I have never before posted two sweet recipes back to back on this blog. However, I had already prepared Welsh teabread and had planned to write about it next week, when I realised that 1st March is St David’s Day – Wales’ patron saint’s day. So I decided to swap my schedule around and put up this post this week, in case any of you are looking for traditional Welsh recipes for the weekend.
This is a simple and straightforward take on the famous Welsh teabread known as ‘bara brith’ – which simply means ‘speckled bread’. There are many versions, some made with yeast. Sweet, warm pudding spices, candied peel, and chopped nuts are often added; and sometimes the top of the bread is covered with crushed sugar cubes before baking. However, I prefer this unfussy version. In this unyeasted form, the bread will keep longer than yeasted loaf.
Variations of this bread are found all over Britain. In Scotland, you’ll find Selkirk bannock, and in Ireland, the barm brack – both are similar.
This recipe is easy to make even if you are unaccustomed to baking. If it sinks a little or there are cracks on top, it doesn’t matter – just make sure that the bread isn’t too hard, which is the only important bit.
Butter generously and eat with a pot of tea on a leisurely weekend afternoon. Accompany with plum jam or orange marmalade if you like. Makes one 2lb/ 1 kilo loaf.
6 oz/ 150g currants
6 oz/ 150g sultanas
8 oz/ 200g light muscovado sugar
10 fl oz/ 300 ml strong black tea, freshly made
A little softened butter, for greasing
10 oz/ 250g white self-raising flour
1 medium egg, beaten
1. Start the preparations the night before, or a few hours in advance. Place the dried fruit and sugar in a bowl, pour over the hot tea, and leave overnight or for several hours.
2. When you are ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 150C/ 300F/ gas mark 2.
3. Lightly grease a 2 lb/ 1 kilo loaf tin. Line the base and the sides with lightly greased greaseproof paper.
4. Add the flour and egg to the fruit and tea mixture. Mix thoroughly.
5. Place the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, and level the surface.
6. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes until well-risen and firm to the touch. A skewer or knife inserted into the centre should come out clean. If not, place the loaf back in the oven a little while longer, making sure not to overcook.
7. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 – 15 minutes. Then turn out on a wire rack and cool completely.
8. Slice and spread with butter (and preserves, if you like) before eating.