Tag Archives: fruit loaf

Bara Brith – the cake and the loaf

The cake version

The cake version

 

The loaf version

The loaf version

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.

Fruit loaf bread pudding

A bit unusual for us this, but this morning I found myself with about half of the Fruit Loaf left.  Now, I made this three days ago, so whilst I was happy to have one more slice toasted I feared that the rest might end up as chicken food.

My youngest loves bread pudding, so it seemed the obvious way of getting the rest of the loaf consumed.  Sorry chickens!

Actually this is the perfect way to use up this loaf, my normal bread pudding recipe requires dried fruit, mixed spice and the zest of an orange.  Well, all of this is already in there, with the marmalade taking the place of the orange zest.  So this was easy peasy to put together and tastes really lovely. I did add a little extra mixed spice and some nutmeg because I love aromatic bread pudding.

750 – 800 g (10-12 oz) leftover fruit loaf
50g (2oz) melted butter
300ml (½ pint) milk
1 egg
½ tsp mixed spice
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
75g (3 oz) dark brown muscovado sugar

Method

Break the bread into a large bowl.  Traditionally you are supposed to remove the crusts but it would be a shame to remove the crust of this loaf as it is so tasty so I didn’t.  I just made sure the crusty bits were broken up quite small.  Combine the melted butter and the milk and pour over the bread.  Give the mixture a good stir and then set aside to soak for 30 minutes.

Beat the egg and add to the bready mixture, along with the spices and sugar and stir well to combine.

Butter a shallow dish, I used my ceramic flan dish with measures 23 cm.  Pour the mixture in and level the top.  Place in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the Baking Oven of the Aga for about 1 hour.  It may take a little longer, depending on your oven.  It should be golden brown and firm to the touch. Allow to cool a little.  It’s good warm or cold.