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Fruit loaf or in Welsh "Bara Brith" - Helen's journal and online home
heleninwales
heleninwales
Fruit loaf or in Welsh "Bara Brith"
Elsewhere on the internet, in a completely different forum, the inhabitants liked my recipe for Welsh cakes and requested the recipe for bara brith, so I'm putting it here so I can link to it. I hope some of my LJ users might be interested too.

This fruit loaf recipe is actually from a book called The Isle of Mull Cookbook which I bought in Scotland many years ago. But whenever I have given the fruit loaf to someone Welsh, they have declared it to be most excellent bara brith, so if a native thinks it's bara brith, then who am I to say it's not?

Anyway, "bara brith" just means "speckled bread", "bara" being "bread" and "brith" meaning "speckled". Besides, there is more than one kind of bara brith, but this recipe makes the cakey variety rather than the sort that is like a bread raised with yeast and with sugar and fruit added.

Bara brith

Note: This is a very easy cake to make (it must be if I can make it successfully!), but you do need to think ahead because of step 1 which needs to be started the day before.

Ingredients

12 ounces mixed dried fruit
4 ounces soft brown sugar
¼ pint of cold tea
8 ounces self-raising flour
1 egg
Pinch of salt

Method

1. Soak the fruit and the sugar in the cold tea for 24 hours.

2. Add the egg (lightly beaten) and the pinch of salt.

3. Fold in the flour.

4. Place the mixture in a lightly greased loaf tin. The one I use -- which is just the right size -- is 8" long by 4½" wide by 2½" deep. (21cm x 11cm x 6.5cm for those of you who think in metric).

5. Bake in a warm oven until its cooked. "Warm" being 335° F or Gas mark 3 or 170° C.

Right, now about the "until it's cooked" part...

The recipe book said 1½ hours and that worked brilliantly when I used an Aga[*] and also the gas cooker I had when we first lived in our present house. However, my current electric fan assisted oven takes much less time; it also requires a setting of 10° less than the stated temperature for a normal oven. I'm assuming that you know your own oven and whether it tends to run hotter or cooler, but I suggest testing after 1 hour and taking it from there. (To test, poke with a skewer and if it comes out clean, it's done. Otherwise, bake for a bit longer.)

What you're aiming for is a nice even brown all over. It won't rise much and it forms a dense cake which is delicious eaten cold and spread with butter.

This cake keeps really well if wrapped in foil or plastic and kept in an airtight container. In fact is better a day or so old -- if you can bear to leave it sitting for that long!



[*] Well, the Aga burned coke and you just got whatever temperature it felt like offering you at that moment, which depended on how long it was since you last riddled and fed it and the direction of the wind. But it was wonderful for baking cakes and I never burned anything while using the Aga, though things did tend to take longer to cook.

Current Mood: accomplished accomplished

15 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
queenoftheskies From: queenoftheskies Date: June 25th, 2014 03:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
That looks delicious!
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 25th, 2014 03:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
It is very nice. Whenever I make one, it never lasts long. :)
stephanieburgis From: stephanieburgis Date: June 25th, 2014 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, I love Bara Brith and I hadn't had a recipe to make it myself. Thanks for sharing this!
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 26th, 2014 08:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I hope you do try it because it's so easy your little ones could help.

There are other recipes and some make a darker, stickier cake, but I feel this one hits just the right balance between too dry and too sticky.
cmcmck From: cmcmck Date: June 25th, 2014 08:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
In some of the border counties such as Shropshire, the tradition is to serve it buttered with a slice of mature cheddar type cheese on top- it sounds odd, but it really does work!

Edited at 2014-06-25 08:32 pm (UTC)
cariadwen From: cariadwen Date: June 25th, 2014 08:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
My mother used to like rich Christmas cake with cheese. I've tried it, it's really nice.
cmcmck From: cmcmck Date: June 26th, 2014 06:57 am (UTC) (Link)
My grandma came from the northeast of England where rich fruit cake and cheese is very much a tradition, so I grew up with it. :o)

Edited at 2014-06-26 06:57 am (UTC)
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 26th, 2014 08:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Cheese (preferably a nice sharp Cheshire) eaten with rich dark fruit cake was a favourite in our family too. That was growing up in Manchester, so it's a tradition in the North West as well.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 26th, 2014 08:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Cheese (preferably a nice sharp Cheshire) eaten with rich dark fruit cake was a favourite in our family too. That was growing up in Manchester, so it's a tradition in the North West as well.
kaishin108 From: kaishin108 Date: June 25th, 2014 11:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
That bread looks and sounds yummy! I just might have to give it a go one day :-)

My stove is old and uses natural gas and things do cook slow. I never heard of a stove using coke, I will have to google that, I can only assume it is some kind of a coal derivative.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 26th, 2014 08:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Coke (the fuel) is a form of processed coal. The resulting coke burns hotter and cleaner, without a smell, so it was ideal for central heating boilers and cooking stoves. Since the 1970s, it was replaced by oil and gas, but when we were wardens of the Youth Hostel a few miles out of town, it still had a big solid fuel catering sized Aga with two fireboxes. (Something like this, but much bigger.) The hot oven had a firebox on either side, the cool oven only had a firebox on one side.

It was a bit like keeping a steam engine running!

Edited at 2014-06-26 08:57 am (UTC)
kaishin108 From: kaishin108 Date: June 27th, 2014 11:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for explaining that, I get so curious about how people heat and cook. I love those old Aga stoves. One of my friends has one. In my dreams - but a gas one ;-)
readthisandweep From: readthisandweep Date: June 26th, 2014 08:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Bara Brith is to quintessentially Welsh I knew I had to include it in Dora. ;)

Yours looks very Welsh! I've always preferred the cakey version.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 26th, 2014 08:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks you, everyone says it's very Welsh, though I always feel obliged to mention that it came from a Scottish recipe book. :)
cmcmck From: cmcmck Date: June 26th, 2014 12:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
I always think of clootie dumpling (which as you probably know, is a sort of boiled fruit pudding) as being closer to bara brith than anything else I can think of.

I miss my late MiL's clootie dumpling!

Do folk ever fry bara brith as part of a breakfast fry up though? :o)
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