In the dark days of the famine, the Irish turned to food lore in hopes of ending hunger. One tradition was on New Year’s Eve, when the woman of the house would bake a barmbrack, a fruity, sweet bread. The man of the house would take three bites out of the cake and dash it against the front door in the name of the Holy Trinity to banish hunger from the homeland. The fragments of the cake were gathered and eaten by the family. While the traditional recipe contains dried fruit, you can easily make this classic your own with a few additional additions.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare the yeast according to package directions. Sift together the flour and baking soda. Combine the dry ingredients with the yeast and the rest of the ingredients and knead until a dough forms. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover. Allow the dough to rise for at least 2 hours.
Place the dough in a cake pan and lightly brush the top of it with melted butter. Allow to bake for 1 hour, or until the cake springs back at the lightest touch. Allow to cool completely before serving.