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barm brack on tea plate. teapot and cup and cake stand behind.
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Barm Brack Iced Fingers

A traditional Irish bread originally made for Halloween with the inclusion of dried fruit and a little spice. Adapted from: The Barm Brack recipe from the Great British Book of Baking, accompanying GBBO series 1.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Proving Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 45 mins
Course: afternoon tea, Cake
Cuisine: British
Keyword: enriched dough, yeasted bake
Servings: 6
Author: Angela – Only Crumbs Remain


  • baking sheet



  • 60 g (2½oz) raisins
  • 60 g (2½oz) sultanas
  • 200 ml (7floz) black tea
  • 225 g (8oz) strong white bread flour plus extra for dusting
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon mixed spice
  • 35 g (1½oz) butter chilled and diced
  • 37 g (1½oz) light muscovado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fast action yeast
  • 1 medium Egg lightly beaten
  • 80 ml (3floz) lukewarm milk blood warm

For the Sugar Glaze

  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • tablespoons boiling water

For the Water Icing

  • 50 g (2oz) icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoon cold water


Make the dough

  • Place the raisins and sultanas in a bowl and pour over the tea.   Set aside.
    60 g (2½oz) raisins, 60 g (2½oz) sultanas, 200 ml (7floz) black tea
  • Place the flour, salt, cinnamon, mixed spice and diced butter in a bowl.  Rub the butter into the flour with your thumb and finger tips until it resembles breadcrumbs.   Stir in the sugar and yeast.  Make a well in the centre and add the egg. 
    225 g (8oz) strong white bread flour, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon mixed spice, 35 g (1½oz) butter, 37 g (1½oz) light muscovado sugar, 1 teaspoon fast action yeast, 1 medium Egg
  • Pour in ¾ of the milk.  Using your hand, mix the flour with the liquid, adding more milk to bring the dough together and clean the bowl as you do so.  Tip the dough onto the work surface and knead for 10 - 12 minutes, avoid adding any extra flour.  The dough is quite a 'close' structure but will gradually become more elastic and stretchy as it is kneaded. 
  • Thoroughly strain the fruit, discarding the tea liquid.   Flatten the dough out and tip on the mixed fruit.  Bring the dough together and thoroughly distribute the fruit in the dough by kneading for a further minute.
  • Set aside to rise.  Place the dough back in the bowl.  Cover the bowl with cling film or a shower cap (purposefully used for baking) and set aside until it has doubled in size.  This can take a little longer than a plain dough due to the added weight from the fruit.  It will also depend on the temperature of the room, though ours took about 1.5 hours. 
  •  Tip the risen dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knock back.  Divide into 6 equal pieces, .  Shape each piece into a ball and then roll into a sausage, all the approximate same length.  Place on the baking tray side by side with about 2cm between each.    Cover the baking tray or sit inside a large plastic bag.
  • Set aside to rise for the second time.   Place the tray somewhere warm to allow the fingers to increase in size again, this will take about 40 - 45 minutes.  After half an hour pre-heat the oven.
  • Preheat the oven to 220℃ (200℃ fan)/425°F/gas mark 7. Place the baking tray in the oven and bake for about 13 - 14 minutes, turning the tray around after about 10 minutes.  

Make the glaze

  • Dissolve the sugar in boiling water and set aside.
    3 tablespoons sugar
  • Once baked, use a pastry brush to paint the top of the fingers lightly with a sugar glaze. Place the fingers straight back int the oven directly onto the oven rack (no baking tray) for a further 1 - 2 minutes.  Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.


  • Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and gradually add enough water to mix to a spreadable smooth thick iicing.   Once the fingers have completely cooled spread the icing over the tops of the buns and allow to set.
    50 g (2oz) icing sugar