Bara Brith

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Bara Brith, Welsh tea loaf recipe, perfect for St David's Day.
Happy St David’s Day! Or to our Welsh cousins, “Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus!” It is no secret that here at Baking with Granny we are firmly a Scottish family but in celebration of the National Welsh holiday, we have managed to obtain a couple of traditional Welsh recipes to share with you. The first being Bara Brith.

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.

Sliced Bara Brith, showing the dried fruit inside the rich loaf.

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!

Bara Brith loaf recipe from Wales.
Slices of Bara Brith cake on a plate, with the loaf behind.

Did you know "Baking with Granny" is "Podi gyda Nain" in Welsh?

Bara Brith tea loaf, full of dried fruit.

Ingredients:

Dried Mixed Fruit
Most 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 Tea
Exactly 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 Sugar
There 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 Spice
One 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 Flour
Bara 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 Egg
The 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.

Bara Brith. sliced and ready to enjoy on St David's Day

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!

Bara Brith, Welsh tea loaf recipe, perfect for St David's Day.

Bara Brith

Traditional Welsh tea bread, made with dried fruit soaked in tea.
5 from 13 votes
PRINT RECIPE
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Welsh
Prep Time: 1 day
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 10 slices

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, place your dried mixed fruit, hot tea and sugar. Once the tea cools, cover and leave the fruit to soak up the tea and sugar over night.
  • The next day, pre-heat your oven to 180°c (160°c for fan assisted ovens or Gas Mark 4). Line a 2lb loaf tin with grease proof paper and set aside.
  • Sift the flour and mixed spice into the bowl of soaked mixed fruit. Add the [beaten] egg and mix everything together until well combined.
  • Pour the mixture into your lined loaf tin, spreading to the corners. Bake in your pre-heated oven for about 1 hour, until dry on top and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Once cool, remove from the tin but keep the greaseproof paper lining on. Bara Brith is best enjoyed after a couple of days kept in an air tight container, sliced with a spread of butter/margarine.
Tried this recipe?Tag @bakingwithgranny or use the hashtag #bakingwithgranny!
Bara Brith recipe from Baking with Granny. Traditional Welsh recipe.

25 Responses

  1. 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.

  2. 5 stars
    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.

    1. 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!

    2. 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.

  3. 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,

  4. 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!

  5. 5 stars
    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.

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

  7. I have been making Bara brith for years. We went on holiday to cardigan west wales.
    And went into a cafe . The lady there gave my mam the recipe
    Then which was about 50 years ago. The recipe she gave us had marmalade in it as well.
    It’s a big favourite in our family and friends that I have as well.
    Happy st David’s day.

  8. 5 stars
    Hi, I’m Welsh & sat in my small Welsh village writing this.
    I’ve made Barabrith a few times & I got a bit too adventurous last night. I added orange peel & orange juice with the tea & now there’s too much liquid. So I’m searching for help guides lol. I shouldn’t have messed with what I normally do. I hope adding more flower will help! I’m going to bake them in a brownie pan & make mini ones.

  9. 5 stars
    Hi,
    Love this recipe Many Thanks, i use English Breakfast Tea bags X 2 . I have also made with extra lemon peel and italian mixed peel add 2 teapoons of honey. A tea loaf for any POOH BEAR. Also fruit no lemon added orange peel and orange marmalade with shreds 2 tea spoons i now have a tealoaf for Paddington. Thats tea with bears and friends sorted .
    Sometimes fruit doesn’t soak up all tea but i either leave little longer or just put all in .
    Going to try Tennesse Wisky Honey added to recipe with Honey and Lemon .
    Tennesse Wisky Apple , herbal teas ,
    Wildjac Cherry rum add cherries maybee chocolate chips . Recipe so adaptable love it.
    Hope this has got people thinking. Good Old Fashioned Traditional will always be the bestin my opinion x

  10. This is not traditional bara brith. This is a type of tea bread. Bara brith is a yeasted bread.

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Hello, I’m Amy, the voice-behind and creator-of Baking with Granny.

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