Bara Brith means ‘speckled bread’ and is common to all the Celtic countries. In Ireland it is called Barm Brack; in Scotland it is called Selkirk Bannock and in Brittany it is called Morlaix Brioche. It is also an traditional eat in Argentina, characteristic of the Chubut province in Patagonia since 1865, where it is called Torta negra. It is traditionally made with yeast, but very good bara brith is made using baking powder.
1 lb. (4 cups) flour
1 oz. yeast
1/2 pint (1 cup) luke-warm milk
1 teaspoon white sugar
3 oz. (scant 1/2 cup) lard or butter
warm honey to glaze
2 heaped tablespoons chopped mixed peel
1/2 teaspoon mixed ground spice
6 oz. (2/3 cup) seeless raisins
3 tablespoons currants
4 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of salt
See that all utensils and ingredients are warm.
Warm the milk to tepid with the teaspoon of white sugar, crumble in the yeast and set aside for 10-20 minutes until it is frothy. Rub the fat into the flour, then stir in the peel, dried fruit, spices, brown sugar and salt. Make a well in the centre, add the yeasted milk and the well beaten egg. Mix to a soft dough, cover and leave in a warm place to rise for about 2 hours, until it is double its size. Turn onto a floured board and knead well, then put into a well-greased tin, cover again and leave for 30 minutes. Remove cover and put into a hot over (400F) for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 325F and bake for one and a quarter hours. The loaf will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom if it is properly cooked. Put onto a wire rack and brush the top with clear honey whilst it is still warm to give it a nice glaze. Let it get quite cold before cutting, and serve in slices with butter.
Our self catering Welsh holiday cottages have fully equipped kitchens ideal for trying out some of these Welsh recipes.