Welsh Recipe: Bara Brith (Speckled Bread)
What Is Bara Brith?
Bara brith—pronounced "bara breeth" (rhymes with teeth)—is a very traditional Welsh recipe and teatime classic. The name literally means "speckled bread," and it's baked and sold commercially in most parts of Wales. But virtually every Welsh region, town, and family seems to have their own special version of this recipe.
But this tasty bread isn't only found in Wales. Welsh settlers brought it to the Chubut Province of Argentina when they arrived there circa 1865, and it has since become a traditional Argentinian food known as torta negra, which means "black cake."
This bread can be made in two ways: as a yeast bread with dried fruits in the style of the Irish Barmbrack (although this version has a limited shelf-life and needs to be eaten as soon as possible), or it can be made in the style of a fruit cake with self-raising flour and packed with candied peel, raisins and currants which have been soaked in tea overnight. This version tends to be the favourite, as it can be kept for quite a long time.
- 1 (75-gram) packet of dried cranberries
- 14 ounces/400 grams dried mixed fruit
- 1 mug of strong hot black tea
- 100 grams butter (and a wee bit more for greasing)
- 2 heaped tablespoons of orange marmalade
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 450 grams self-raising flour—try a mix of wholemeal and white
- 175 grams light soft brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 4 tablespoons of milk
- 50 grams granulated sugar, for dusting
Preparation should take no more than 15 minutes, and the cooking should take between 1 hour and 1 hour and 15 minutes. But don't forget that the fruit will need to soak overnight before use.
- Place the cranberries and dried fruit in a large bowl and pour the hot tea over them. Give the mix a good stir, then cover the bowl and allow to stand and soak overnight.
- Preheat oven to Gas mark 4 (160°C).
- Take a 2-pound (900-gram) loaf tin and grease with butter. Line the bottom with baking parchment.
- Gently melt the marmalade and butter together in a saucepan, then leave to cool again for 5 minutes before beating in the eggs.
- Drain the fruit and mix together with the sugar, spices and flour. Add the butter and marmalade mix and the milk, and mix together until you get a nice even mix.
- Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin and level it off. Sprinkle with the sugar and bake in your pre-heated oven for between 1 hour and 1 hour 15 minutes until it becomes a nice golden brown colour. Prick it with a skewer or fork—if it comes out clean, then the bara brith is ready.
- Leave (in the tin) to cool completely, then serve sliced, buttered or unbuttered according to taste—lovely!