We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are Barm Cakes?

Jessica Ellis
By
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
DelightedCooking is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At DelightedCooking, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Barm cake is an unusual term with a surprising amount of meanings. In England, it is a term for a bread roll similar to a hamburger bun, often filled with French fries and sausage. In Ireland, barm cakes are an alternate term for barm brack, a traditional Halloween dessert. Barm cake has also come to use in slang, to refer to a stupid or idiotic person, as in “I’m such a barm cake when it comes to math.”

The slang use of barm cake is of uncertain origin, but likely is a reference to the blandness of the British roll. The simple plainness of barm cakes may relate to other British slang terms for stupidity, such as simpleton. In any case, this term is an excellent piece of obscure slang for those who enjoy insulting others in a way they likely will not understand.

The British use of the term refers to a plain, soft roll, usually topped with flour before baking. Originally, its name came from the heavily-flavored barm leaven. Barm is created during fermentation of yeast, often during the process of making ale or lager. When scraped from the top of the liquid, barm was often combined with hops and was originally used as the yeast agent in barm bread. Today, most barm cakes are made with regular yeast, and is often found in fish and chip shops as chip barms.

The Irish version of barm cakes are considerably more fun, and attached to an ancient superstition. Barm brack, as it is commonly known, is a fruit and spice cake traditionally served on Halloween. Typically, a wedding ring is baked randomly into the cake. Whoever gets the slice of barm brack with the ring in it is said to be the next person to marry, or to at least be married by the next Halloween.

To make Irish barm cakes for your next spooky celebration, the typical recipe calls for sultanas, raisins, candied citrus peel and nutmeg mixed into a simple egg and yeast dough. Bake on a high heat for approximately an hour. If you are going to include the traditional ring, warn your guests to check their slices before eating! It is easy to break a tooth or swallow a small ring, which will unpleasantly ruin the thought of getting married within the year.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis , Writer
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for DelightedCooking. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.

Discussion Comments

By anon971410 — On Sep 25, 2014

Actually here in Manchester I've frequently heard the term "barm cake" used to describe someone who is daft or crazy (not stupid), but really it's just an alternative to saying "barmy".

By anon91148 — On Jun 20, 2010

2Quote - "The slang use of barm cake is of uncertain origin, but likely is a reference to the blandness of the British roll."

The term used is not "Barm Cake" but 'BalmPot' which was derived from the pre and Victorian self medicating salve of goose grease saved in a pot. This had many applications, added wintergreen for bronchitis, applied for burns, menthol added for inhalation, etc.

By anon74828 — On Apr 04, 2010

Quote - "The slang use of barm cake is of uncertain origin, but likely is a reference to the blandness of the British roll."

Don't guess when you don't know. It's more properly "barmpot", and is the same origin as "barmy", and means "frothy, empty headed", from the frothy nature of barm (= yeast)

By anon61252 — On Jan 19, 2010

My mother used to make barm cake. Has anyone the recipe? It was 1 1/2lbs of plain flour but only 3oz of mixed fruit and very little margarine, sugar but I don't have the exact weights for all ingredients.

Jessica Ellis

Jessica Ellis

Writer

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
Learn more
DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.