Don’t worry, it’s more fun than it seems. Traditionally served during Samhain (the Celtic festival of the dead celebrated at the end of harvest), a loaf of barm brack contains five different objects: a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a coin and a ring. If you receive a piece of bread containing the pea, that means you won’t get married this year. If you get the stick, you’ll have an unhappy marriage. The cloth means you’ll have bad luck; the coin means you’ll be rich; and the ring means you’ll be married within the year. Optional addition: a medallion, which would mean you are going into the priesthood or joining a nunnery. (That one doesn’t get used very often these days.)
Even more fun than a loaf of fortune-telling bread is a cocktail based on it. Sean Muldoon, the celebrated Irish bartender and co-owner of The Dead Rabbit in NYC, developed a recipe for a drink that features the bread’s flavors of dried fruit and spices. Made with Irish whiskey (preferably single-malt), allspice liqueur, homemade toasted-raisin syrup, cream and an egg yolk, the drink is silky, indulgent and perfect for a chilly Halloween night. Get the recipe here.