I have become a little obsessed with bara brith. A long time ago someone used to make our family a bara brith on a regular basis. It was delicious. It became a little less delicious when we heard that she mixed it in her bath.
There are two types of bara brith. The cake version and the yeasted bread version. Bara Brith translates from the welsh as speckled bread, referring to the currants, raisins and candied peel within each slice. The arguments about which is the real bara brith rage on. History has it that bara brith would have been the last loaf put in the dying oven at the end of the weekly bake, adding the fruit to the bread dough to make it a more palatable loaf. When raising agents came into regular use the bread became a cake.
The cake version is often a tea bread with the fruit steeped in strong cold tea overnight. This makes it a very moist cake that lasts for days. Spread with butter, it goes very well with a flask of coffee and a beautiful view.
The bread version, though, I have been having trouble with. I initially tried a version from a traditionally welsh cookery book. This particular recipe asks for wholemeal flour. However, I found that the enriched dough became just to heavy to get anything more than a small rise, making for a heavy bread. It tasted OK, but the cake tasted better. However, I was determined to keep trying. I found another recipe, and this one uses plain white flour. The rise was much more successful, but perhaps not authentic, traditional bara brith. If anyone makes a bara brith bread (the yeasted version) that they enjoy then I would be very interested in their recipe.
At the moment I think my heart belongs to the cake version. It lasts for days making it a handy cake to have in the tin. The bread is just a little too heavy, even when made with the white flour and if I want a fruit loaf then this one wins hands down.
I would be interested in your bara brith thoughts to keep the obsession alive.