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Gluten Free Barmbrack Loaf

A simple, Irish-inspired gluten free barmbrack loaf made with almond flour, maple syrup, applesauce, and dried fruit.

A slice of gluten-free barmbrackon a plate with a cup of tea and a saucer to its left.

Gluten Free Barmbrack Loaf Recipe

This beautiful gluten free barmbrack loaf is my version of the Irish quick bread. Often served around Halloween or the new year, barmbrack is welcome any time you want a lightly sweet loaf. “Bairín breac” is so easy to do gluten-free with a simple blend of almond flour and arrowroot flour. I did a combination of regular and golden raisins here, soaked overnight in black tea, though you could do either one alone. A little bit of brown sugar rounds out the rich flavor of this not-too-sweet loaf that is perfect with afternoon tea or as a morning snack.

Barmbrack is traditionally made with yeast in a rustic round shape – see a more classic recipe for barm brack here – but in this more modern version, it needs only baking powder for leavening. And, instead of making it into a round, I baked my barmbrack as a loaf that’s easy to slice and spread with a little butter or apple jelly if you wish.

This is how James Joyce described barmbrack in a short story from The Dubliners: “The fire was nice and bright and on one of the side-tables were four very big barmbracks. These barmbracks seemed uncut; but if you went closer you would see that they had been cut into long thick even slices and were ready to be handed round at tea.” As I am quite fond of the idea of tea time, especially by a fire, this sounds just right.

What is Barmbrack?

Barmbrack, also called barm brack or bairín breac, is a yeasted, speckled loaf served at Halloween. It is typically made in flattened rounds and is very good toasted. The brack – you may also see barmbrack shortened to “brack” – is sweeter than sandwich bread, but it is closer to bread than cake. In my version, I used almond flour and a loaf pan, and soaked the raisins overnight in tea; you can also soak the raisins in whiskey. Brack is meant for breakfast or as a snack, preferably with butter.

Gluten-free barmbrack loaf and a cup of tea.

Why You’ll Love It

A more modern version of the Irish yeasted sweet bread called barm brack, this gluten free barmbrack loaf takes its inspiration from classic recipes by incorporating tea-soaked and plumped golden raisins and raisins with a little extra black tea added to the batter. This recipe is naturally gluten free and is easily whisked together. A few highlights:

  • Lightly sweet: Just a little brown sugar (sub maple syrup if you wish) serves to sweeten this loaf, giving it a hint of sweetness rather than making it into a dessert loaf.
  • Easily gluten-free: Just two gluten-free flours, almond flour and arrowroot, in the perfect ratio, work together to create a sturdy, moist crumb.
  • Dairy-free: If you need to keep dairy-free, no problem, this loaf is already dairy-free! You’ll rely on applesauce for a little extra sweetness and moisture, and you won’t need any milk.

What You Need for Gluten Free Barmbarck

Here’s a glance at the ingredients in this barmbrack loaf. The full ingredient amounts are in the recipe card at the end of this post.

  • Almond flour – Protein-rich almond flour forms the base of the loaf
  • Arrowroot flour – A starchy gluten-free flour, arrowroot adds a bit of lightness to the loaf
  • Baking powder
  • Salt – I always use fine grain sea salt in my recipes!
  • Eggs – Use large eggs
  • Applesauce – Applesauce added moisture and structure to the loaf. Make sure to use unsweetened applesauce if possible.
  • Brown sugar – Or try coconut sugar or maple syrup
  • Black tea – Use your favorite black tea of choice
  • Raisins and golden raisins

How to Make Barmbrack

I’ve outlined how to make this recipe below. Find the detailed instructions in the recipe card lower down.

  1. Soak raisins: Place the raisins, tea bags, and boiling water in a bowl and let steep for 12 hours, then drain and remove the tea bags.
  2. Prep: Preheat the oven and grease and line a loaf pan.
  3. Combine dry: In a medium bowl whisk together the almond flour, arrowroot, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Combine wet: In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, applesauce, coconut sugar, and tea. Stir in the raisins.
  5. Make the batter: Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture.
  6. Bake: Pour the batter into the prepared pan, then and bake for 45-50 minutes. Cool completely before serving.
A gluten free barmbrack loaf on a cutting board, cut into slices.

Tips & Substitution Suggestions

If you need to play around with flours in this recipe, I’ve included a few substitutions below, plus some tips for how to make this gluten free barmbrack:

  • Almond flour substitute: You can use teff or oat flour by weight for the almond flour.
  • Arrowroot substitute: Use tapioca flour instead of the arrowroot.
  • Use 1:1 gluten free flour: If you prefer, substitute 2 ¾ cups of gluten free 1:1 baking flour, such as Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur Flour.
  • Try whiskey: As noted, for a little alcoholic zing, you can soak the raisins in whiskey rather than tea. I like Jameson’s!
  • Refined sugar-free: Instead of brown sugar, try coconut sugar or maple syrup. Maple syrup is especially nice because it adds a little extra moisture.
  • Check the expiration date on your baking powder: This seems like a no-brainer but it’s good to repeat every so often: It’s essential to check the expiration dates on your containers of baking powder and baking soda. If they’re past their expiration date, or nearing the date, toss them and pick up a fresh package to ensure your loaf rises accurately.

Serving Suggestions

This lightly sweetened loaf is more of a breakfast than a dessert, although if you want to make a dessert that’s not overly sweet, you could top slices of brack with a little whipped cream or a drizzle of honey and call it good.

Barmbrack is wonderful warm and spread with a little butter, or toasted and spread with butter or peanut butter for a heartier snack. It’s best served with tea.

Storage Options

  • Counter – Wrap the loaf in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container or a sealable bag and store it on the counter for up to 3 days.
  • Fridge – Cover the loaf tightly or place it in an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Freezer – To freeze barmbrack wrap it in a layer of plastic wrap, then foil, or place it in a freezer-safe, sealable bag, and place it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw the bread in the fridge before serving it.

More Irish-Inspired Recipes

Gluten-Free Barmbrack Loaf

Nicole Spiridakis
A simple, Irish-inspired gluten free barmbrack loaf made with almond flour, maple syrup, applesauce, and dried fruit.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Irish
Servings 10 servings
Calories 183 kcal


  • 2 ¼ cups almond flour (260 grams)
  • ½ cup arrowroot flour (70 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, coconut sugar, or maple syrup
  • ¼ cup black tea
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup golden raisins


  • Soak the raisins overnight: In a medium bowl, place raisins, 2 tea bags, and 1 ½ cups boiling water. Let this steep for about 10-12 hours.
  • After soaking the raisins, drain the tea and reserve ¼ cup. Remove the tea bags.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F degrees, lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together the almond flour, arrowroot, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, applesauce, coconut sugar, and tea. Stir in the raisins. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir until just combined.
  • Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan, place in the oven, and bake for 45-50 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool for 10 minutes, then turn out onto the rack to cool completely. Let the loaf cool completely before serving.
  • Loaf will keep, well wrapped in the fridge, for 5 days.


Serving: 1 sliceCalories: 183kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 0.4gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gSodium: 146mgPotassium: 127mgFiber: 1gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 2IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 109mgIron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Let me know in the comments how it went!

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