Value for money



Ballymore Crust Barmbrack (Aldi) €0.99

This is the brack for you if you are not really into brack. It lacks much of the dried fruit that we think a decent Halloween fruit cake should have. While the sultanas were in short supply there was a whole lot of orange peel in the mix which gave it a sweetness that we found to be ever so slightly overpowering. This is a pale and uninteresting affair and in no way could it be described as a brack lover’s brack. It does come with a ring – a very, very cheap looking ring – and a warning which says: “Do Not Choke”. We are not sure if this warning refers to the ring or the dry dough. But overt sweetness and shortage of fruit aside, it is very cheap and, when covered in butter, is absolutely fine.

Verdict: Dressed-down brack

Star rating:***

Superquinn Brack €3.49

Superquinn was once beloved for its excellent customer service and its home away from home feel, but over the years and under new ownership standards appear to have slipped. We were relieved that they still carried out one of their best traditions: freshly baked goods in store. This brack is luxurious with lots of lovely sultanas and a lovely mixed spice flavour. It is gorgeous and Pricewatch didn’t even get it in to the toaster before digging in. At €3.49 it is slightly more expensive than its counterparts but worth it, despite the fact that it lacks a ring for the little ones.

Verdict: A brack out star

Star rating:****

TeaTime Express Halloween Brack €3.69

At this time of year traditional cake makers turn their hands from coffee cakes and pineapple slices to Halloween brack. They discreetly tell us that our brack contains a ring but they do not tell us that it is gold with a giant emerald! Granted, it’s not real but it does make a difference from all the fake gold bands. Now back to the brack: it’s just lovely. Outside it has a vibrant rich bronze colour and inside it contains a golden hue with lots of sultanas, raisins and orange peel. It was light and fluffy as it should be. As the most expensive of the bracks we tasted, we conclude that we should trust the bakers on the brack issue.

Verdict: Brack in business

Star rating:*****

Staffords Bakeries €2.99

This brack was very dark brown and looked almost burnt although it did not taste as charred as it looked. The predominant taste was fruit, not much of a surprise given that 42 per cent of the ingredient list was made up of dried fruit of one kind or another. It turns out that we are clearly very hard to please. We were disappointed with too little fruit in some of the bracks we tried and put off by too much fruit in this one. All the sweet juiciness made it kind of chewy while the presence of cherries made it sweeter than it needed to be. The best thing about this brack is the ring: it’s a plain gold band. We feel the brack could learn a lot from this ring.

Verdict: Better get brack to basics

Star rating: **

Connell Bakery Barmbrack (Lidl) €0.99

Like the Aldi brack, the best thing about this is its price and at 99 cent, it is more than 60 per cent cheaper than the most expensive product we reviewed. Other than that there are very few nice things we can think of to say about it. It is not terrible, but it lacks much by way of flavour and was too bland for our tastes. The absence of taste was one thing – and something we could have forgiven – but the absence of a ring was another thing altogether. Pricewatch could count the sultanas in each slice at a quick glance. It was very pale and tasted almost undercooked. The dough was sweet, cake-like and tough, not at all like a brack – more like a “bric-a-brack”.

Verdict: Look Brack in anger

Star rating:**

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