February 13th, 2004

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The cakes have been presented

I was in the main college today, so managed to pounce on my rescuers of last week and present each of them with a bara brith. They both appeared rather startled, claimed to have forgotten all about the incident and seemed to consider getting oily and wet on a dark cold evening as they struggled with a recalcitrant wheel that just didn't want to be removed from its parent vehicle as just a matter of routine. But they got me out of a fix and enabled me to get to my evening class with time to spare, so I think a small cake as a token of my thanks was definitely in order.
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View from study (sunny)

Recipe for bara brith/fruit loaf

This is the recipe I use, taken from The Mull Home Companion, a wonderful book of recipes and household hints. If you ever need a remedy for louping ill in your sheep (feed them some elm leaves), or an emergency cure for cough and sore throat (take 1 desert spoon of sugar, moisten it with vinegar and sip the mixture from the spoon, which does work) or instructions on how to cook capercailzie (in case you should run over one with your car), this is the book you need.

This recipe is really, really easy. Even I can make it reliably and I don't generally do cakes.

Bara brith/Fruit Loaf

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

Put the fruit and sugar to soak in the cold tea and leave it for 24 hours (overnight will do). Then tip the soaked fruit mixture into a larger mixing bowl and add the egg (lightly beaten) and a pinch of salt. With a large wooden spoon, fold in the flour and stir everything together until it's evenly mixed. Scoop the mixture into a lightly greased loaf tin (small loaf sized) and bake for approximately 1½ hours at Gas mark 4/180°C (350°F). I seem to remember this cooking time and temperature was correct for my old gas stove; however, in my electric fan oven, I found that it needed less time and a cooler setting. 160°C (say Gas mark 3) and about 1¼ was perfect.

To test whether the bara brith is done, remove it from the oven and poke it carefully with a metal skewer or thin knife. If the skewer comes out clean, the cake is done; if mixture sticks to it, then give it another 10-15 mins and test again.
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