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Home • Recipe • Bara Brith
Published by Amy
Much like how Scotland have St Andrew’s Day, England has St George’s Day and Ireland has St Patrick’s Day, Wales have St David’s Day, a day in which they celebrate the the life of the patron saint of Wales. Each year on the 1st March, the people of Wales dawn daffodils & leeks, hold parades & concerts, and feast on traditional Welsh foods & drinks.
Such foods include Welsh Rarebit, Cawl, Welsh Cakes and of course, Bara Brith.
So what is Bara Brith?
The name originates from the Welsh words for “bread” (bara) and “speckled” (brith), so it quite literally translates to “bread speckled.” Presumably referring to the appearance of the dried mixed fruit, speckled throughout the loaf. And traditionally it would have been made using yeast and resembled more of a bread appearance & texture.
These days, it is made without yeast and is more along the lines of a moist, dense, sticky fruit cake. And it is truly delicious, especially when sliced and enjoyed with a generous spreading of butter!
Dried Mixed FruitMost supermarkets now stock an own-brand bag of dried mixed fruit, which is generally a combination of currants, raisins, sultanas and mixed peel. However, if you aren’t able to find one, or there is a particular dried fruit you aren’t keen of, you can easily make your own by mixing the individual fruits to the required weight.
Hot TeaExactly as it sounds, you need a cup of hot tea. This is used for soaking the dried mixed fruit overnight, allowing the currants, raisins and sultanas to plump up a little. As well as adding moisture to the Bara Brith.The teabag you have for your usual cuppa is just fine. For those overseas, a strong English Breakfast tea is what you are after. However, if you are feeling adventurous (and don’t mind straying from tradition) you could even experiment with different teas; an Earl Grey perhaps?
Soft Dark Brown SugarThere is some sweetness within the dried mixed fruit but some sugar is a welcome addition to your Bara Brith. This recipe uses a soft dark brown sugar, however you could use a soft light brown sugar if that is what you have to hand. In fact, you could even use a caster, granulated, muscovado sugar…; whatever sugar you use will be dissolved in the hot tea, so texture isn’t a big factor, but different sugars will influence the over all taste of your final loaf.
Mixed SpiceOne of my most favourite ingredients that adds a little something extra to the flavours of Bara Brith. You can buy little jars of Mixed Spice in my UK supermarkets but if you are overseas, you can easily mix your own from individual spices.
Self-raising FlourBara Brith is quite a dense loaf cake but by using self-raising flour over plain flour, you allow just a little bit of lift to the end result.
Free-range EggThe egg is an important addition to Bara Brith as it works like the glue holding the rest of the ingredients together. The size of egg isn’t too important, just make sure you are using free-range.
I should point out as well, that like our Welsh Cakes, this recipe comes directly from a Welshman; my godmother’s partner to be exact. We may be able to confidently claim our recipes to be traditional when they are Scottish but I wanted to make our Welsh recipes came from a reliable source too.
So, a special shout-out goes to Stephen for being kind enough to share his Bara Brith recipe!
I am northern Irish woman but I love this welsh tea bread. It’s similar to something called barm brack that we have. It freezes beautifully too.
An excellent recipe, thank you!
Brilliant recipe, easy to follow and excellent results. Loved by all the family
Awesome results on this recipe, everyone has loved it! Many thanks.
Made this a few times with success’ If the knife comes out a little wet how much longer should I return to oven
Delicious with butter, easy to to follow recipe.
I have not made this yet, but it looks amazing. I just have one quick question, and that is if I did the recipe normally, but when it comes to bake it can I put it into rounded cake molds. Also then can I cover and decorate with buttercream and if so what flavour would go best? Would be very appreciated if you could get back soon as has to be done for my school for st davids day.
Hi Evie. You can absolutely bake your Bara Brith in a different shaped tin, you may just have to keep an eye on it whilst baking as depending on the size/depth of your tin it may bake faster/slower. As for buttercream, my first thought is that it definitely doesn’t require it. Bara Brith is delicious as is. However if it was something you wished to proceed with, I would simply go with a plain or vanilla buttercream as not to distract from the flavours already present. Hope that helps!
buttercream?? no way just eat it sliced with butter buttercream would be far too sweet !!
I am sure you ciuld put it in a round cake tin rather than a loaf tin. I don’t think butter icing of any flavour would enhance this recipe. I have seen a si.ilar recipe where it is decorated with nuts or preserving sugar crystals – although I haven’t tried that myself. Have a go and see what your family like.
Dydd gwyl dewi da i chi gyd . Happy St David’s Day to you all x
I make something similar but soak the fruit in cider or ale and add an extra teaspoon of cinnamon. I am not a fan or dried mixed peel and substitute chopped apricots,
I have a very, very similar recipe and I put 100ml brandy in it. Been making it for 50+ years and it is still a great favourite of my family and friends!
Excellent and forgiving recipe. Through every fault of my own, I had to make 1/2 quantities in a 1lb tin. Didn’t have mixed fruit to hand so made up my own; probably added a bit too much tea (and forgot to add the sugar until after it cooled). Nothing a trip to the microwave and a bit more s/r flour could not fix. :-)
Turned out brilliant.
Delicious, a go to recipe for my B&B visitors!
Not sure what is in your mixed spice. Could I just use cinnamon? I live in Canada and my Mom and Grandma were both born in Wales. I have made Welsh cakes for years but never this recipe. Definitely going to give it a go! Thanks for the recipe.
Hi I’m also Canadian and wondered the same thing. Perhaps like pumpkin pie spice? Then googled it and found a recipe on BBC good food. If you don’t have mace, perhaps leave it out or replace with more nutmeg. Going to make this cake instead of the usual Christmas cake this year.
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