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Fruity favourite with a buried treasure surprise

Halloween barmbrack (BELOW)

Ingredients

450g (1lb) strong white bakers' flour

1/2 level tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 level tsp mixed spice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Pinch of salt

25g (1oz) butter

20g (3/4oz) fresh yeast + 1 tsp sugar + 1 tsp tepid milk

75g (3oz) caster sugar

300ml (10fl oz/1 1/4 cups) tepid milk

1 organic egg, whisked

225g (8oz) sultanas

110g (4oz) currants

50g (2oz) candied peel, chopped

Two 12.5 x 20cm (5 x 8in) loaf tins

Bun wash (see right)

Hidden treasure

Ring, stick, pea, piece of cloth, all wrapped in greaseproof paper

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. It's a help if all utensils are warm before starting to make the barmbrack.

Sieve the flour, cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter.

Mix the yeast with 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp tepid milk and leave for 4-5 minutes, until it becomes creamy and slightly bubbly.

Add the caster sugar to the flour mixture and mix well. Pour the tepid milk and the egg into the yeast mixture and then add to the flour.

Knead well either by hand or in the warmed bowl of an electric mixer at high speed for five minutes. The dough should be stiff but elastic. Fold in the dried fruit and peel, cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place until it has doubled in size.

Knead again for 2-3 minutes. Grease the loaf tins and divide the dough between them. Add the ring, stick, pea and piece of cloth, tucking them well in. Cover again and leave to rise for about 30-45 minutes until well puffed up.

Bake for about one hour or until golden and fully cooked. Glaze the top with bun wash, put back into the oven for about two or three minutes. Turn out to cool on a wire tray. When cool, serve cut into thick slices and spread with butter.

Bun wash

Put 600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) water and 450g (1lb/2 cups) sugar into a pan and boil for 2 minutes.

Brush over the barmbrack as soon as it comes out of the oven.

This makes a large quantity of bun wash but it keeps very well.

Pumpkin soup with rosemary oil (left)

Ingredients

50g (2oz) butter

150g (5oz/1 cup) chopped potatoes, one-third inch

110g (4oz/1cup) peeled diced onions, one-third inch

Salt and pepper

350g (12oz/3 cups) chopped pumpkin, one-third inch

1.2l (2 pints/5 cups) homemade chicken stock or 1l (1 3/4 pints/4 1/2 cups) stock and 150ml (1/4 pint/ 1/2 cup) creamy milk

3 tbsp rosemary, chopped

Rosemary oil

4fl ozs (100ml/1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp rosemary, chopped

Method

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.

When it foams, add potatoes and onions and turn them until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the rosemary oil. Heat the chopped rosemary with the oil until hot but not smoking. Cool and strain.

Add the pumpkin and stock to the saucepan with the potatoes and onions. Boil until soft, but do not overcook. Liquidise with the rosemary.

Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Drizzle a little rosemary oil over each bowl of soup before serving.

For more recipes and information on upcoming courses at Ballymaloe Cookery School visit www.cookingisfun.ie or call 021 464 6785


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