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Guest recipes with Colette Ioannidou


An Irish take on Halloween

When I used to bake for my family, there was a book by Darina Allen I relied on for special Irish days, The Festive food of Ireland. It not only contains some lovely traditional foodstuffs but also gives information about the origins of the recipes and the feast days. Barmbrack is one such always popular treat. The name is a mix of old English (beorma) and Irish (brac) speckled, as the rich bread is made with fruit and candied peel. You may prefer to substitute instant yeast for the old method given here. As with the Vasilopita, a wrapped ring, charm or coin can be added to the mix.


450g white flour

½ level teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon mixed spice

¼ level teaspoon nutmeg

Pinch of salt

55g butter

20g yeast/or 2 teaspoons dried yeast

85g cup caster or fine sugar

300ml tepid milk

1 egg, beaten

225g sultanas

110g currants

55g mixed chopped candied peel

Glaze: 1-1½ tablespoon sugar, 2-3 tablespoons boiling water

Sieve flour, salt spices into a bowl, rub in butter. Cream the yeast with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and 1 tablespoon of tepid milk; it should soon froth slightly. Pour the remaining tepid milk and the egg into the yeast mix, combine with dry ingredients and sugar. Beat well with a wooden spoon or knead with your hand in the bowl until the mix it is stiff but elastic.

Fold in dried fruit and peel, cover the bowl with a damp cloth or cling film, leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.

Knead again for 2-3 minutes and divide between two greased 450g/1lb loaf tins. Add the charm, ring or coin at this stage. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes or until the dough comes to the top of the tin.

Bake in a preheated oven 180C oven for about an hour. Test with a skewer before taking out of oven. Glaze the top with sugar dissolved in boiling water. Turn onto wire tray to cool. When cold cut into thick slices and butter generously. If it goes stale, it makes nice toast.

Porter Cake

Many Cypriots I know enjoy the famous dark blonde stout made in Ireland for Guinness or Murphy brands. This is great on St Patrick’s Day, but you can make a feast of it any day.


225g butter

225g brown sugar

300ml stout

Zest of orange

225g sultanas

225g raisins

110g mixed peel

450g plain white flour

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2 teaspoons mixed spice

110g glace cherries

3 eggs

Melt butter and sugar in saucepan with stout. Add orange zest and all fruit except the cherries. Bring to boil and boil for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, allow to cool until lukewarm.

Sieve flour, soda and spice into a mixing bowl. Add fruit mix to flour, then add cherries. Whisk eggs and add gradually, mixing well.

Spoon the mixture into a prepared 23cm round tin. Bake in the middle of a preheated 180C oven for about 1½ hours. Optional: pour 4 tablespoons of stout over the cake when it’s cooked (always prick the cake with a skewer to be sure it’s ready) and keep for a day before cutting. It will last several weeks in a tin.




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