Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bara Brith - Fabulous Raisin TEAbread and an industrious squirrel.

Bara Brith atop one of my fabric designs at Spoonflower
Oh My Goodness this is such an excellent recipe from a copy of British Country Living (the BEST magazine in the known universe) from February 2008 - why have I not made it before - was I leery of it's easy peasiness - perhaps - but now I make this about every 5 days and it comes out dandy every time!! If you like fruit cake this is a winner especially so as it contains only 7 pretty much on hand ingredients - maybe you'll have to avail yourself of raisins but I bet you have the rest in the house - there's no creaming butter or anything fancy but you do need to start soaking the raisins about 6 hours ahead of baking the teabread - that's the only 'hard' part. Off we go!!
Plumping up my raisins in good strong tea - yum!!
First make some strong tea - I have used regular black tea, Earl Grey, regular black with a little Lapsang Souchong - they all tasted good -I think Earl Grey is my fave though but the type of tea is up to you - I bet you could also use either green tea or apple juice - mmm - maybe I'll try apple juice in the next one - you'll need 10 fluid ounces hot tea (300ml) - nice and hot! Now put 10 ounces (about 280g) of dried fruit - I use just raisins but you can use raisins, currants, mixed peel and or sultanas - in whatever combination takes your fancy - pop them into a narrow bowl and pour on the hot tea - leave for about 6 hours - more or less - I have found 6 to be the optimum time - less and they're not plump enough and there's too much liquid left and more and there's no liquid left and the teabread burns on the outside. I added the zest of one lemon and mixed it in with the tea and fruit for a little brightness in the finished delight.

Pre-heat oven to 325F

Avail yourself of the following ingredients (including the raisins soaked in hot tea see above):
9oz (250g) self raising flour OR 9oz regular flour combined with 2 teaspoons baking powder (you don't need the baking powder in the self raising flour as it already has raising agents added to it)
1 large egg beaten
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamom - goes well with the lemon zest zing
5oz (125g) preferably brown sugar but white is OK too - I use slightly off white organic

1. Once your raisins are soaked and nicely plumped sieve the flour and spices into them (don't drain - you want the tea in there) - stir in the sugar, stir in the egg and beat a little until well blended.
2. Butter either an 8" round or a 6" round cake pan (those of you who know me know I have a ridiculous fondness for the 6" round and tall cake pan because it makes cute cakes as seen below) and add batter - smooth the top and pop into your preheated 325 oven - the oven needs to be low to be able to cook a long, slow time.
3. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours until springy to the touch and a skewer comes out clean - check after one hour and if it is browning too much put an aluminium foil hat over to stop the top burning. This cake depends a lot on how long the raisins have soaked and therefore how much wetness there is to the batter.
The texture of the batter - wet but not sloppy!
Bara Brith "speckled bread"- a beautiful Welsh recipe - the recipe in the magazine said to keep it around for a few days before eating as it develops a nice elastic texture due to it's lack of shortening - yeh right - like I've been able to wait that long to find out - it's great as soon as it's cooled - it does get better by
the day and is faboo toasted with lashings of butter - also untoasted with butter is good!!
I made the yeasted Irish version, Barm Brack, of this a few weeks ago - it was lovely but it was much more of a bread with raisins in, harder and more time consuming to make and not as fruity - this recipe is a WINNER!!

It's another snow day here in Maine - as you can see there are still lots of apples on the tree out back and plenty on the ground for the wild turkey's and deer to nosh on.
And below - an enterprising squirrel found a place to stash his apple - in a hollow on top of the washing line pole - clever little devil - would LOVE to have seen him getting this up there - the apple is held nice and securely for him to nibble on safely away from his other wild neighbours!!
See you soon - my next post is about recycling my artwork - do drop by again. Patricia

1 comment:

montreal pastry lover said...

Perfect pastry recipes for this coming holiday season I will surely include this on my list. Thanks for sharing my friend.