Intro: 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
If you are pushed for time: If you do not have time too soak fruit over night, check this recipe out for Boiled Cake
Step 1: 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
- 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
The evening of Day 1
Make your tea with boiling water.
I use organic Earl Grey tea bags.
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
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
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
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
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
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
Turn out onto a wire rack and ...
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
*** 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
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
This simple recipe can be changed to suit your needs as follows:
Add a teaspoon of allspice when adding the flour
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
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
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
- 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)
- 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
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
Step 10: If You Are Pushed for Time ...
Here's a quick update for you.
If you are pushed for time and cannot soak your dried fruit overnight, try this Boiled Cake recipe.
As equally as traditional as a Bara Brith