Sweet Bread Welsh Bara Brith (Speckled Bread)

posted by Liz Thomas 02-25-101 7:42 PM

Welsh Bara Brith – Speckled (Fruit) Bread

This is a very traditional Welsh recipe and was always included on the table for the famous Sunday high tea – a meal served around 5 pm which included cold meats, chutney and pickles, bread and butter, jam, small cakes (and bara brith) and, naturally, lots of freshly brewed tea.

High tea used to be (and still is in some households) a strong point in the Welsh social structure. My grandmother used to make a big issue of and as children we were never allowed to have any cake unless we ate plain bread and butter first!

This Welsh tea bread is echoed in Brittany (Morlaix Brioche), in Ireland (Barm Brack and in Scotlant (Kerrie Loaf) – all these are Celtic countries with many similarities in the cooking and culture.

1 lb self-raising flour
1 lb mixed dried fruit (sultanas, currants and mixed peel)
2 tbsp orange marmalade
1 egg
6 tbsp soft brown sugar
1/2 pint medium-strong warm tea (no milk)
1 tsp mixed ground spice (or a mix of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg)
1/4 tsp salt
Honey to glaze

Mix the dried fruit and sugar and pour the warm tea over them. Leave to stand overnight (or at least several hours) will the fruit is swollen up. Stir in the flour, spice, salt, marmalade and finally the well beaten egg and mix well.

Line a loaf tin with greased paper, put the mixture in and cook in a moderate oven (325F) for 1 3/4 hours (a skewer inserted should come out clean when the bread is done). Turn onto a wire rack, brush the top with warm honey and allow it to cool completely.

Slice thinly and spread with cold butter – Bara Brith improves with keeping and is better the day after baking. It’s delicious!

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