Saturday, 22 January 2011
As you all must know by now, I live in Chester, which is right on the doorstep of Wales. In fact, the Welsh border is but a five minute walk from my home. I love that, coz I love Wales!! It's beautiful, quaint and very rustically rural in many places.
When we lived in Kent and wanted to go to the seaside we would go to either Hastings or Eastbourned and we loved them. Up here we like to go to Prestatyn, which is not as big as the more popular seasides, but again . . . it's not as crowded either. Down in Kent I would have opted for chips or ice cream as a seaside treat . . . but here in Wales, it's Bara Brith . . . EVERY time!
Also known as "Speckled Bread," Bara Brith can either be a yeast bread enriched with dried fruit or something like a quick bread/cake made with self-rising flour. Traditionally using vine fruits and candied peel, it involves soaking the fruit mixture overnight in hot tea. I generally always opt for the quick bread/cake one as it stores a lot longer, whereas the yeast version needs to be eaten pretty much right away.
This particular version is very low in fat as well, as there is no butter involved at all in it's creation . . .which leaves one free to totally indulge in spreading it with lots of cold butter when it's warm from the oven, or when it's cold for that matter, with a clear conscience!!
Bara Brith and a hot cup of tea, herbal or otherwise. It's a good thing.
Makes one 2 pound loaf
The quick bread version of a traditional Welsh cake using whole wheat flour, vine fruits, chopped peel and soft brown sugar. Low in fat, high in pleasure. Eat sliced and spread with softened butter. Delicious! Plan ahead as the fruit needs to soak overnight.
4 ounces dried currents (1 scant cup)
2 ounces raisins (1 scant half cup)
2 ounces chopped mixed peel (1/3 cup)
(chop your own)
400ml of hot strong tea (1 3/4 cup approx.)
12 ounces self raising whole wheat flour (3 cups)
4 ounces of soft light brown sugar (1/2 cup packed)
1 large free range egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp mixed spice ( a blend of sweet spices, see column on right side of page)
Weight your fruit out and place it into a bowl. Cover with the hot tea and leave to sit overnight.
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 5. Butter a 2 pound loaf tin and line with baking paper. Butter the paper.
Whisk together the flour, brown sugar and mixed spice in a bowl. Drain the fruit, reserving the soaking juices. Stir this into the flour mixture to coat. Add the beaten egg and enough of the soaking liquid to make a soft batter. Spread into the prepared pan, evening off the top.
Bake for 45 minutes, until risen and firm to the touch. A toothpick inserted in the centre should come out clean. Remove from the oven to a wire rack to cool. Allow to cool for ten minutes in the pan before removing to finish cooling completely. Store in an airtight container.