Bara brith

Bara brith is Welsh for 'speckled bread': a poetic name from a country where poetry is taken very seriously. Enriched with milk and butter and studded with dried fruit, this is a bread to be taken sliced, with afternoon tea (or coffee). This recipe is adapted from Elizabeth David's 'English Bread and Yeast Cookery', and is discussed in more detail in this blog post.

  • 450g strong white flour
  • 30g fresh yeast/14g dried or easy blend
  • 5g salt
  • 60g soft brown sugar
  • 60g currants
  • 20g chopped peel
  • 1 tsp mixed spice (see below)
  • 85g butter
  • 280g milk

David’s basic spice mixture, which works well, is two parts nutmeg and pepper (white works best), to one part each of cinnamon and ginger.

  1. Put the flour, salt, sugar, spice and easy-action yeast (if using) in a bowl. If you’re using fresh yeast or traditional dried granules, rehydrate it before adding.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan on a low heat. Once melted, take it off the heat, add the milk and pour it over the flour mixture (mixing the milk with the butter cools and disperses it). Mix to a dough and knead by hand for 15 minutes.
  3. Now add the dried fruit. Pat the dough out flat and press the fruit into it before folding it in half.  Then gently knead the fruit into the dough until it’s thoroughly incorporated.
  4. Leave the dough to rise in a covered bowl. You’ll probably find that it doubles in bulk more quickly than usual, in around 40 minutes. At this point, shape the dough for a 2lb loaf tin and and leave it to prove. This will take longer than usual, one and a half to two hours depending on the ambient temperature. Preheat your oven to 220°c.
  5. Once the dough is peeking over the lip of the tin, bake it for 50 minutes to an hour. The crust will be well browned after about 30 minutes, so at this point cover the loaf with some tin foil to prevent it from burning, and check it every now and then in the last 10 minutes.

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