Bubby: We just can’t let our Welsh dreams go! We gave you a fantastic Welsh novel and some great historical facts last week and this week, we’re giving you dessert.
Sissy: First, the history of Bara Brith (which literally means “speckled bread”). This sweet fruit bread has been around forever, it seems, and there are many versions floating about. It is the go-to holiday or special occasion treat in Wales, and is eaten thickly sliced with butter.
Bubby: Two more interesting facts: there is a version in Argentina called “torta negra,” brought over by Welsh immigrants decades ago, and there are two main traditional recipes – one that is yeast-raised and one that is more of a quick bread. We are lazy, so we went with the quick bread version.
Sissy: Since most families in Wales have their very own Bara Brith recipe, we decided to come up with our own as well, (but we kept the measurements in grams just to prove that we’re British) which we shall call Two Sisters Speckled Bread. Are you ready for it?
The secret to the moist denseness of this bread is soaking your fruit, sugar, and orange zest in herbal tea.
You can use a regular size loaf pan or three small ones if you’re giving these as gifts. Plus, the little ones are super cute!
Adding an orange and honey glaze makes them so pretty and even more delicious.
Two Sisters Speckled Bread (Bara Brith)
100 g each raisins, dried dates and dried figs, chopped
200 g brown sugar
zest of one medium orange
350 g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1 large egg, beaten
50 g. softened butter
1 tsp. vanilla
FOR GLAZE (optional):
1/4 c. honey
juice of that orange you zested already
Mix together the fruit, sugar and orange zest in a large bowl. Pour the hot tea over the top and either let sit covered overnight (or cheat like we did and microwave for two minutes, let rest for five and then microwave again for two more).
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and line a standard loaf pan (or three little ones) with parchment. (Sissy made us use wax paper but Bubby has issues with that…). In a mixing bowl, beat together the egg, butter, vanilla and spices. Then slowly add in 1/2 the flour. Pour in half the liquid and fruit mixture, then the other half of the flour and lastly the remaining fruit and liquid. Mix together well. Pour into prepared pan(s).
If you like, mix together honey and orange juice (Sissy needs to go to the store so all we had was a clementine, which was surprisingly delicious) and brush it over the tops of the bread while still warm. Slice thick and butter generously. So yummy!
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