Introduction: Bara Brith - a Traditional Welsh Tea / Fruit Bread

Picture of Bara Brith - a Traditional Welsh Tea / Fruit Bread

A traditional Welsh fruit loaf made with tea.

Bara Brith, which translates to 'speckled bread’ or 'mottled bread', is made all over Wales and is usually served with a salted butter, but can be eaten without

There are many variations of this traditional fruit loaf many, like this one, does not contain yeast.

In many Welsh families, the recipe is handed down through the generations, and this one is my family's recipe. I have made this Instructable as informative as possible, with additional helpful tips along the way

Check out the last 'step' for modern day alternatives and some variations.

You can also use this recipe for a Christmas fruit cake and decorate it.

Planning note: Fruit will be soaked overnight

Step 1: You Will Need

Picture of You Will Need

For my family's traditional recipe, you will need:

On day 1:

  • 350g Dried mixed fruit
  • 400ml Hot strong tea (not shown)

On day 2:

  • 250g Brown sugar - I use soft, dark brown sugar
  • 600g Self raising flour
  • 1 Egg
  • A well greased and lined large loaf tin or two smaller ones - see notes (1) (2)
  • A large mixing bowl
  • A small amount of honey or homemade sugar syrup (optional) for glazing (see "Glaze and allow to cool" step)

    Don't forget to check out the last step for some variations and suggestions

    (1) Tins: I use a large tin that holds 4lbs of liquid, but you can use two 2lb tins

    (2) Mixture: If you can half your egg, once beaten, you can half the remaining ingredients and use one 2lb tin. This would be about the smallest tin my family would have in the cupboard. See "Variations and alternatives" step

    Conversions (approximate):

    • 350g = 1 1/2 cups
    • 400ml = 1 3/4 cups
    • 250g = 1 cup
    • 600g = 2 1/2 cups

    If you don't have self raising flour - Just add 2 teaspoons of baking powder for each 150g / 6oz / 1 cup plain flour

    I found a good cooking conversion chart hereif you need it:

    Step 2: Day 1: Soak Fruit in Tea Overnight

    Picture of Day 1: Soak Fruit in Tea Overnight

    The evening of Day 1

    Make your tea with boiling water.

    I use organic Earl Grey tea bags.

    Remove teabag

    When you remove the tea bag, top up the liquid to 400ml

    Pour over your dried fruit then cover and leave the stand overnight

    Step 3: Day 2: Mix in Sugar

    Picture of Day 2: Mix in Sugar

    Day 2:

    Pre-heat your oven 180*C / 350*F / Gas Mk 4

    After the fruit has soaked overnight, add it to a large mixing bowl and add the sugar.

    The darker your sugar, the darker the fruit loaf.

    It will still taste good with lighter sugars

    Step 4: Mix in Egg

    Picture of Mix in Egg

    Beat your egg and add to the mixture

    Or half your beaten egg if using half the ingredients for a smaller loaf

    Step 5: Mix in Flour

    Picture of Mix in Flour

    Mix in your flour a little at a time.

    I always find that, toward the end of the 600g of flour, the mix gets a little stiff, but keep at it. It's worth it

    Step 6: Pour Into Tin(s) and Bake

    Picture of Pour Into Tin(s) and Bake

    Line your tin(s) and pour in the mixture. Smooth the top.

    Bake at 180 °C / 350 °F / Gas Mk 4 in the middle of the oven.

    Sit back and enjoy the aroma for the 60 to 90 minutes cooking time.

    *** I check mine after an hour, it's usually done by then. ***

    Test with skewer. Once your skewer comes out of the cake clean, it's cooked


    Tips:

    I'm going to be honest here, never ever have I been able to 'pour' this mixture.

    I have always spooned it into the tins.

    Once spooned in, dampen your fingers and gently push it into the corners and down into the tin.

    To prevent your finger marks showing on the finished loaf, dampen the back of a metal spoon and smooth the top over

    Step 7: Glaze and Allow to Cool Down

    Picture of Glaze and Allow to Cool Down

    Turn out onto a wire rack and ...

    Glaze (optional):

    I cheat and mix 2 heaped teaspoons with a little boiling water and brush over whilst it's still hot.

    This will help it stop drying out and give it a wonderful shine

    Tip:

    *** Whilst it's still warm but not hot, wrap up for storage, this will allow it to sweat a little and ensure the outside does not go hard and crusty ***

    Store in a bread bag

    Step 8: Serve

    Picture of Serve

    Serve with butter

    I also use this recipe for my Yule / Christmas cake. I just change the shape of the tin to a round one then ice and decorate it to your needs

    Step 9: Variations and Alternatives

    Picture of Variations and Alternatives

    This simple recipe can be changed to suit your needs as follows:

    Spices:

    Add a teaspoon of allspice when adding the flour

    Smaller mix:

    As I mentioned previously, if you can confidently half the size of your egg, you can half the size of the other ingredients. See below

    Liquids / Tea:

    • I was once asked to make a loaf for someone with the fruit soaked in coffee, I had no complaints, so I guess it turned out OK
    • You can use many types of tea including fruit teas, but peppermint and licorice tea did not taste good for me.
    • You can replace the tea with fresh orange juice, just heat it up to soak the fruit

    Alcohol:

    The hot tea can be reduced by 25% and replaced with brandy, whisky etc - Try warming up the alcohol a little first so it will easily soak into the fruit

    Fruit:

    Provided the end weight doesn't go over, you can replace about 2 tablespoons of the fruit with any or more of the following:

    • Glace cherries
    • Walnuts
    • Chopped fresh stem ginger
    • Other dried fruits (would not recommend bananas)

    Or even completely replace the mixed dried fruit with one or all of the following:

    • Dried cranberries (craisens)
    • Currants
    • Sultanas

    Butter:

    • You can always use your usual spread
    • Add a little jam or marmalade too
    • Or even Apple Butter - check my Instructable for the How To

    Christmas Cake:

    Change the loaf tin to a round tin and decorate for a rich and delicious Christmas cake

    Half mixture alternative:

    The Bara Brith I have made here weighs about 1.5kg / 3lb. If this is a little too big for you, here's a half recipe so you don't need to work it out.

    • 175g [3/4 cup] Dried mixed fruit
    • 200ml [between 3/4 and 1 cup] Hot strong tea
    • 125g [1/2 cup] Brown sugar
    • 300g [1 1/4 cups] Self raising flour
    • 1/2 Egg

    Comments

    ThirdEarthDesign (author)2016-12-20

    Good to see a fellow Welshy on here. I do like a bit of bara brith, may have to give this a try one day :-)

    I hope you enjoy. Post me a pic when you've done one.

    I love mine with real Welsh butter and a nice mug of coffee.

    Don't forget to vote for this in the contest.

    I have a couple of other Welshey things on here too:

    https://www.instructables.com/id/Fondant-Leek-Welsh...

    https://www.instructables.com/id/Fondant-Daffodil/

    Just perfect for a St David's Day bake

    About This Instructable

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    Bio: My name is Niki, I am a mum of three amazing grown up kids as well as a Grandma. I am a keen hobbyist and ... More »
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