Bara Brith Recipe

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Cakes River Cottage HandbookBara brith or ‘speckled bread’ is a traditional Welsh tea bread. The vine fruits used in the recipe are first soaked in tea to give a beautifully moist result. In the Irish equivalent, tea brack, there is often a good drop of whiskey added too. It is easy to make, keeps well and, incidentally, doesn’t contain any fat. You can serve it as it is, or spread it with butter. It’s also lovely with a slice of Cheddar. This recipe has been in my family for years, but I can’t resist sometimes making a few changes, such as varying the dried fruits, replacing the tea with apple or orange juice, or adding a tablespoonful of marmalade. And, as it’s such a good keeper and freezes well, you’ll find it’s worth doubling up the quantities to make a couple at a time.

  • Yield: 16 Servings

Ingredients

  • 175 ml strong, warm tea
  • 225 g mixed dried fruit, such as sultanas, currants or raisins
  • 1 finely grated unwaxed orange juice and zest
  • 150 g light soft brown sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 225 g self-raising flour
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
Equipment
  • 1 litre loaf tin, approx 20 x 10 cm, lightly greased, base and long sides lined with baking parchment
How to Make It
  1. I usually use the remains of a pot of tea to steep the fruit. Otherwise, infuse a tea bag in 175 ml boiling water for 5–10 minutes to create a good strong brew.
  2. Place the dried fruit, orange zest and juice, sugar and tea in a mixing bowl large enough to hold everything. Cover and leave overnight for the fruit to plump up.
  3. When you’re ready to make the teabread, preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4. Add the egg to the fruit mix and stir in. Next, sift the flour, salt and mixed spice together over the mixture. Using a metal spoon, carefully mix together to a soft dough. Spoon into the prepared tin and give it a sharp tap to level the surface.
  4. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour, until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre of the tea bread comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack.
  5. Once cold, wrap the tea bread in greaseproof paper, store in an airtight tin and leave to mature for several days before eating. It will keep for 2–3 weeks in the tin.
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