Taste test BarmBrack
It's not Halloween without barmbrack, and there are plenty out there. But is there really any difference between the bargain versions on offer in the supermarkets, and the hand-crafted ones? Or should you knuckle down and make your own?
Avoca 1.2kg, €9.95, 8/10
This dense, dark brack from Avoca has less spicing than others that we tested and is the only one not to contain a ring - 'for health and safety reasons' - which means that children may be disappointed. The list of ingredients is refreshingly short: sultanas, mixed peel, tea bags, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, mixed spice and treacle. A good choice for grown-ups, and its large size and the fact that it's made by hand justifies the price-tag. The sticky treacle topping was not to everyone's taste.
Aldi, Specially Selected, Halloween Barmbrack, 454g, €1.79, 8/10
Good and moist, with what feels like a generous amount of fruit. At 34pc, the main ingredient is sultanas, and the brack also contains candied mixed peel, glacé cherries and candied ginger. There is a long list of additives and preservatives though, as with all the bracks other than Avoca's.
Tesco Finest, Halloween Barmbrack, 454g, €3, 6/10
Nice texture and good flavour, with subtle spicing, plenty of fruit and 'a hint of Irish whiskey' that is discernible but not overpowering. Pretty good.
Lidl, Connell Bakery, Halloween BarmBrack, 89c, 440g, 4/10
Our testers found this brack from Lidl on the dull side, lacking in spicing and flavour, although the texture is good. Contains palm oil. Very cheap, so one to consider if you're catering for large numbers.
Ryan's of Tipperary Fruit Brack (purchased in Applegreen), 650g, €3.99, 3/10
The texture of this brack is dry, the flavour is lacking, and one of the ingredients is palm oil. Our testers weren't keen.