You can vary this recipe hugely. Some prefer white flour, you can add more sugar or butter if you like it sweeter or richer, and there are those that do not make it with yeast, but instead with some bicarbonate of soda. This is my favourite version, this week.
One important tip for bara brith is that it is hard to make well in a cold kitchen. All utentensils and ingredients (including the milk) need to be at warm room temperature.
- 1lb (4 cups) wholemeal flour
- ½ oz yeast
- ½ pint (1 cup) milk
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 3oz (barely ¼ cup) lard or butter
- 1 egg, well beaten
- 2 heaped tablespoons mixed peel
- ½ teaspoon mixed ground spice
- 6oz (2/3 cup) seedless raisins
- 3 tablespoons of currants
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar (you can use molasses sugar if you prefer the flavour)
- Pinch of salt
- To glaze: either warm honey, or a syrup made of sugar dissolved into hot water
- Dissolve the white sugar into the warmish milk, and stir in the yeast. Set this to one side until it becomes frothy. This takes about 10-20 minutes.
- Rub the butter / lard into the flour with your finger tips, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Stir in all the dried fruit, and the salt and brown sugar.
- Make a well in the centre of the flour / fruit mix, and poor in the frothy milk and the well beaten egg.
- Mix until it forms a soft dough, the stop mixing so that you don’t over work it.
- Cover, and leave in a warm place to double in size. This can take up to 2 hours.
- Turn the dough onto a floured board, and knead it well.
- The shape the dough a little, and put into a very well greased 3 pint loaf tin. Cover again, and leave again, this time for about 30 minutes.
- Cook in a hot oven (400 degree F, 210 degree C) for 20 minutes. Then take the oven temperature down to 325 degrees F, xxx degrees C, and cook for another hour – hour and a quarter. Cover the top with baking parchment if it is browning too quickly.
- Test that it is cooked – turning it out (without burning yourself if you can) and tap the bottom, it should sound hollow.
- Turn it onto a wire rack, and whilst it is still warm brush the top with the warm honey / sugar syrup to make a glaze.
- When it is completely cold, slice and eat, with butter if you like (I don’t in this case).