Hello dear reader,
Did you watch the Great British Bake Off? I had been rooting for the lovely Beca from the very start but unfortunately she was put out in the semi-finals. In an earlier round the challenge was to make a yeasted tea loaf. Since Beca is from Wales, she immediately knew she just had to make Bara Brith which is a traditional Welsh teacake. Beca used her grandmother’s original recipe, which you can find here, but modernised it up a little by replacing some of the traditional dried fruit with dried cranberries.
The monthly bake club I attend was the same week of Beca’s departure from the competition, so I decided to make Bara Brith in her honour. Some quick Googling told me that the traditional recipe using yeast is now rarely used by home bakers, who often go for the quicker route of making a cake-based teacake. I took the elements I particularly liked from a few different recipes and came up with my own easy take on Bara Brith…
1) Weight out 450g dried fruit.
You can use whatever mix you like – I used dried cranberries, sultanas & chopped dates as this is what I had in the cupboard. The chopped dates look a little odd here as they are packed with rice flour to stop them sticking together!
2) Place the fruit in a bowl. Make up 250ml tea, using two teabags. Pour over the dried fruit and leave to soak over night.
3) Weight out 75g nuts and roughy chop. I used walnuts as this is what I had.
4) Add the chopped nuts to the soaked fruit, stir well & leave the nuts to soak whilst prep other ingredients.
5) Preheat the oven to moderately slow (160C, 320F, Gas Mark 3). Mix 450g self-raising flour, 2 teaspoons mixed spice and 150g muscavado sugar. Add the soaked fruit and nuts, along with one egg and the juice of one orange. Mix well.
6) Pour into a 1.2 litre/2lb silicone loaf tin (or a greased and lined metal loaf tin) and bake for about 1¾ hours, until golden and a skewer inserted in centre comes out cleanly. Leave to cool for 20 minutes, remove from tin and glaze.
7) To make the glaze, boil together 50g white sugar and 50ml water until starts to thicken. Pour over the Bara Brith and leave to cool.
I tweeted Beca to let her know I was making Bara Brith in her honour to take to bake club. She very kindly tweeted back to say we should eat it with proper salted butter. Immediately I thought of the Cornish butter that Rodda’s had sent me. How perfect I tweeted back – Welsh tea cake made by someone from Northern Ireland, taken to a Scottish bake club and served with English butter. A great combination of Britishness!
I am entering my Bara Brith into a few blog challenges. First up is Tea Time Treats run by Karen at Lavender and Lovage and Kate at What Kate Baked. Kate is hosting this month and the theme is bread – any sweet breads and yeast breads – perfect!
[Edit: Turns out I was a little late with my entry for October’s Tea Time Treats. However Karen has serendipitously chosen dried fruits as the November theme, so I am entering my Bara Brith into November Tea Time Treats instead. Nice!]
An interesting blogger challenge that I recently discovered is called “One ingredient” and is run by Nazima at Franglais Kitchen and Laura at How to Cook Good Food, with Laura hosting this month. Each month they select one ingredient which must be used in the recipe. Laura is an ex-chef and Nazima is married to an ex-chef, so I am a little nervous entering this one! However the one ingredient theme this month is walnuts, so it seems meant to be!
So do tell dear reader, if you were baking Bara Brith which dried fruits would you use and would you choose walnuts or something else?