Now you have to imagine that I am saying this in a Welsh accent. Bara Brith is bloody brilliant boyo. If like me, you have never heard of Bara Brith, don’t be perturbed. Last year I found myself headed towards Wales, with my father at the wheel and me nodding off in the back seat listening to my iPod, I felt like a teenager again. Tired and slightly disgruntled at the fact that he still listens to Radio 4 so loudly that it hurts my poor little eardrums. And trying really hard not to ask ‘How many more miles?’ As we made our way through the meandering lanes we talked and the subject of Bara Brith arose. I was told that it was a traditional Welsh fruit loaf. To really cement its presence in my life, it appeared, as if by magic. As we all tumbled out of the car, tired and hungry, we walked into our rented cottage and found a complimentary bottle of red wine and a loaf of Bara Brith on the kitchen table.
It is rich and moist and spiced and loves butter nearly as much as I do. After the holiday, to be honest, I didn’t really give it a thought but I stumbled across a recipe the other day and it inspired me. And so, as I often do, I started tinkering around in the kitchen at about nine o’clock at night. Mr T was rolling his eyes; he loves eating my food but doesn’t love the trail of destruction I leave in my wake, especially as he is the dishwasher. However, the next morning when I turned the soaked fruit into warm spicy loaves he wasn’t complaining and neither were my colleagues. Most people see a late start at work, as a reason to lie in and catch up on extra sleep. I, on the other hand, see it as a chance to wake up early and treat my colleagues to freshly baked fruit loaf. I don’t think any of us regretted my decision.
It is a lovely, simple Pierre Roelofs recipe, which is not too strenuous to bake early in the morning, no beating required, just languorous stirring. Before I whisked it away into the grateful hands of my colleagues, I ran into the back garden and took a couple of snaps in the early morning sunshine. I hope my questionable photography skills show it off to full effect… Here is the recipe. Enjoy with butter. If you put margarine on it, I will know and I will pity you for having such bad taste.
Pierre Roelofs Bara Brith
400g Mixed Dried Fruit (raisins, currants, sultana’s, mixed peel)
75g Dried Cranberries (I used Blueberries and they were yummy)
250ml Hot black tea
100g Unsalted butter
2 heaped TBSP Marmalade
2 Eggs lightly beaten
450 g Self Raising flour
165g Brown sugar
1 TSP each ground cinnamon and ginger
125ml milk (and then some)
A slug of booze (I used orange liqueur but I think anything like brandy, whisky would work well too)
- Make hot, strong tea, pour over dried fruit along with a dash of booze (if the mood strikes you) and leave overnight or a few hours
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees c, grease and line a large loaf tin or two small loaf tins
- Melt butter and marmalade over low heat until melted, cool for 5 mins
- Add lightly beaten eggs to butter mixture
- Mix flour, sugar, spices and a pinch of salt in large bowl
- Mix drained fruit and butter/egg mixture together
- Combine wet and dry ingredients, fold gently, do not overwork
- Add 125ml milk, this probably won’t be enough, keep adding until it is softly dropping from the spoon.
- Pour into loaf tins and bake until cooked, if they get too dark, cover with foil
- A large loaf will take around an hour, a small loaf about 40 minutes, check with a skewer, if mix is still wet, check again in 10 mins.
I adore this loaf, it is supposedly a bread but there is no yeast and it definitely has a cake like texture, either serve warm straight from the oven or toast under the grill and smother in butter. The booze isn’t in the original recipe but it seemed so festive, it was almost rude not to!