With how popular St Brigid’s Day is, it is no surprise that there are a number of traditional Irish recipes associated with the holiday. Here, we share our favourites!
Since St Brigid is closely associated with dairy, many foods for her feast day on February 1 include it. Butter is commonly used, either in the food or as a topping, as is cream or milk. Colcannon is a traditional treat for St Brigid’Day
Essentially a bowl of Irish mashed potatoes, Colcannon is a hearty main course or side dish that’s hard not to love.
- 8 large potatoes (russet potatoes are best, do not use waxed variety)
- 1 head of green cabbage or kale if you prefer
- 1 cup milk or cream
- 1 stick butter, divided into three parts
- 4-5 green onions chopped (for flavor but many prefer not to have these)
- Salt and pepper
- Peel potatoes, place in large pot to boil.
- As potatoes are cooking, prepare cabbage, remove the core, make thin slices & place in large/deep saucepan.
- Add boiling water to cabbage & stir & by 3 or 4 minutes the cabbage should turn dark green & appear wilted. Time can vary because the texture of the cabbage can vary so just keep an eye on it to be sure it is not over cooked.
- Drain the cabbage very well & return to the saucepan. Add one-third of the butter, cover it & place it on the table to melt slowly. Do not place back on the stove.
- Check on the potatoes to see if they have now become soft. If so, drain the pot & place the potatoes into the saucepan & keep burner low, lid off & give a few minutes for any water remaining to evaporate
- Add milk, another third of butter & let the butter melt. Do not boil.
- Break up & mash the potatoes into the milk & butter mixture with a fork or masher.
- Mix the cabbage into mashed potato & milk/butter mixture
- Let sit 3 minutes on low burner & if preferred, add pinch of salt, parsley & then make a well in the center, add the last third of butter & let it melt, mix.
An old St Brigid’s Day tradition that became a popular treat all year round, but especially around Halloween, is a fruitcake known as Brack or Barmbrack (Báirín Breac) meaning “speckled loaf.”
Quick to make and requiring only a few ingredients, it was a the choice of treat for visitors that would come to the house on St Brigid’s day, offering Brid dolls, crosses or other treats. As with many customs, the ingredients depended on what was available or preferred locally. These cakes included almost always raisins, sometimes currants, various dried or candied fruits, and tea or whiskey.
A slice of Barmbrack was also left on the table, on the windowsill or outside the door overnight on St Brigid’s Eve (last night of January) along with milk, butter and other treats made for St Brigid who traveled that night blessing her faithful followers or for a more needy soul who was hungry.
Here is one recipe to celebrate St Brigid’s Day with a cinnamon raisin Barmbrack.
- 1 cup raisins (add 1 cup of currants if preferred)
- 1 tea spoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tea spoon mixed spice
- 1/2 tea spoon nutmeg
- (Add a couple of drops of whiskey if preferred)
- 2 teas spoons of active dried yeast
- 1 or 2 tea spoons of sugar depending on preference
- 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
- 3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 tea spoon of salt
- 4 table spoons of melted unsalted butter
- 1 large egg whisked
- zest of half lemon (if preferred)
- Soak raisins and currants in bowl of cold water (or black tea) for 6 hours .
- Stir strongly the yeast and tea spoon of sugar in milk. Wait 10-15 minutes as it sets.
- Mix the flour, sugar, spices and salt and stir in bowl then create a well and add the melted butter, egg, lemon zest and yeast mixture and knead. The dough should be very thick when done.
- Drain the raisins or currants as well and add to the dough and knead. Keep the liquid and add some of it until the dough softens.
- Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for two hours or until it has increased in the size you want to serve it.
- Lightly pat down the dough a bit, place in loaf pan.
- Lightly cover the pan and let the dough rise one hour or until it reaches serving size you wish.
- Preheat oven to 350
- Bake the brack 50-60 minutes (less if making two or more smaller loaves) or until you place a knife in the middle of the loaf & it comes out clean with nothing on it.
- Remove from oven, cool, slice and enjoy with your favorite butter or dry!
St. Brigid’s Oatcakes
An old tradition carried on today calls for the making of St Brigid’s oatcakes which were divided into small pieces and given to children visiting homes and providing newly made St Brigid’s Crosses on the eve of St Brigid for the year ahead as well as for gatherings & celebrations of the day on February 1.
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons butter, in small pieces
- 3/4 cup uncooked oatmeal (old fashioned)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grease a baking sheet.
- Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Add butter bits and cut in with knife until mixture is crumbly. Add oats and mix well.
- Beat the egg with the buttermilk in a separate bowl.
- Make a “well” in the dry ingredients, then pour in the egg mixture and mix all with a fork until the crumbs hold together. Form the dough into a ball and knead (on a floured surface, about 20-25 times). Add flour if the mass is still too sticky to work with.
- Form the doughball into 8-inch round and transfer it to the baking sheet.
- Score a deep cross into the bread but do not cut through.
- Bake for fifteeen to twenty minutes, or until medium brown and a tester comes out clean.
For more traditional Irish recipes, consider A flavour of Kylemore Abbey, an exclusive recipe book written by the Benedictine community residing at the famed Kylemore Abbey and photographed by award-winning Irish photographer Valerie O’Sullivan.