Welcome to my kitchen, where I’m whipping up a classic Welsh tea bread – Mary Berry’s famous Bara Brith. This simple, no-fuss recipe combines flour, yeast, eggs, butter, sugar, and dried fruit to create a moist, dense loaf with bold flavors. It’s perfect for breakfast, tea time, or any time you need a little something sweet. The hints of citrus and warm spices will comfort and satisfy you. I can’t wait for you to try this delicious baked treat.
Grab your apron and let’s get started on a slice of fruity delight!
What is Bara Brith?
Bara Brith is a Welsh word that means “speckled bread”. It is a type of tea bread that is made with dried fruit, sugar tea, and sometimes spices. It is usually sliced and spread with butter and enjoyed with a cup of tea. Bara Brith has a rich history and is often associated with special occasions, such as Christmas or Saint’s Day. It is also a popular gift to bring to friends and family.
What is Mary Berry Bara Brith Recipe?
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Mary Berry’s Bara Brith recipe is a favorite for several compelling reasons:
- Ease of Making: This recipe is incredibly straightforward. Without the need for yeast, kneading, or rising, it simplifies the baking process. Simply soak the fruit and sugar in tea overnight, mix in the flour and egg, and bake.
- Versatility: You have the freedom to use a variety of dried fruits such as raisins, currants, sultanas, cranberries, cherries, or apricots. Enhance the flavor and texture further by adding nuts, seeds, citrus zest, or candied peel. Additionally, the amount of sugar and spice can be adjusted to suit your taste preferences.
- Moist and Tender: The combination of tea and fruit ensures that the bread is both moist and soft, and it retains its quality for several days. It’s also freezer-friendly for up to 3 months and easily reheated in the oven or microwave.
- Deliciously Balanced Flavor: This bread strikes a delightful balance between sweetness, fruitiness, and spiciness, making it an ideal choice for breakfast, brunch, afternoon tea, or dessert. It can be enjoyed plain or accompanied by butter, jam, honey, cream cheese, or whipped cream.
Ingredients Needed to Make Mary Berry Bara Brith
To make this recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Dried Mixed Fruit: 375 grams (13 ounces). You can use a mix of raisins, currants, sultanas, cranberries, cherries, or apricots.
- Brown Sugar: 250 grams (9 ounces). Light or dark, depending on your preference for sweetness and caramelization.
- Strong Tea: 300 milliliters (1 1/4 cups). Choose from black, green, herbal, or fruit tea.
- Mixed Spice: 2 teaspoons. A combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, allspice, and coriander, available ready-made or mixed at home.
- Self-Raising Flour: 450 grams (16 ounces). Contains baking powder so no need for additional leavening.
- Egg: One large, beaten. This helps to bind the ingredients and adds moisture.
How to Make Mary Berry Bara Brith
Making this recipe is very easy and straightforward. Here are the steps you need to follow:
Soak Fruit and Sugar in Tea:
- In a large bowl, combine 375 grams of dried mixed fruit with 250 grams of brown sugar.
- Pour in 300 milliliters of strong tea.
- Stir the mixture thoroughly, then cover with a lid or a plate.
- Leave to soak overnight, or for at least 8 hours, at room temperature. This allows the fruit to plump up and the sugar to dissolve.
Prepare the Oven and Baking Tin:
- Preheat your oven to 150°C (300°F).
- Grease a 900-gram (2-pound) loaf tin with butter for easy release. Optionally, line the tin with baking parchment for added ease of removal.
Mix in Egg and Flour:
- Add one large beaten egg to the soaked fruit mixture and mix well.
- Sift 450 grams of self-raising flour and 2 teaspoons of mixed spice over the mixture.
- Gently fold everything together with a spatula or wooden spoon until just combined. The batter will be thick and sticky. Be careful not to overmix to avoid tough bread.
Bake the Bread:
- Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf tin and smooth the top.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. The bread is done when a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, and the top is golden brown and firm.
Cool and Serve:
- Let the bread cool in the tin for about 20 minutes.
- Then, remove it from the tin and let it cool completely on a wire rack.
- Slice the bread into thick pieces.
- Serve with butter, jam, honey, cream cheese, or whipped cream as preferred.
Enjoy your homemade Mary Berry Bara Brith, a perfect treat for any time of the day!
What Do I Serve With Mary Berry Bara Brith Recipe?
You can serve Mary Berry Bara Brith Recipe with a variety of toppings and accompaniments, depending on your preference and occasion.
Here are some suggestions:
- Butter. This is the classic and simple way to enjoy Bara Brith. Just spread some butter over a warm slice, and savor the melt-in-your-mouth goodness.
- Jam. You can add some jam to your buttered slice, for some extra sweetness and fruitiness. You can use any jam you like, such as strawberry, raspberry, apricot, or marmalade.
- Honey. You can drizzle some honey over your slice, for some natural sweetness and shine. You can use any honey you like, such as clover, acacia, or manuka.
- Cream cheese. You can spread some cream cheese over your slice, for some tanginess and creaminess. You can use plain or flavored cream cheese, such as strawberry, blueberry, or lemon.
- Whipped cream. You can dollop some whipped cream over your slice, for some lightness and fluffiness. You can use whipped cream from a can, or whip your own with some heavy cream and sugar.
- Custard. You can pour some custard over your slice, for some richness and smoothness. You can use store-bought or homemade custard, and serve it hot or cold.
- Ice cream. You can scoop some ice cream over your slice, for some coldness and creaminess. You can use any ice cream you like, such as vanilla, chocolate, or caramel.
- Fresh fruit. You can add some fresh fruit to your slice, for some freshness and juiciness. You can use any fruit you like, such as berries, bananas, apples, or oranges.
Pro Tips to Make Perfect Mary Berry Bara Brith
To ensure your Mary Berry Bara Brith turns out perfectly, consider these professional tips:
- Fruit Soaking: Soak the fruit and sugar in tea overnight or for at least 8 hours. This step is crucial for plumping up the fruit and dissolving the sugar, resulting in a moister and more flavorful bread.
- Tea Selection: Opt for strong tea varieties like black, green, herbal, or fruit tea to infuse the bread with rich flavor and color. Exploring different teas like Earl Grey, chai, or rooibos can add unique nuances to the bread.
- Gentle Mixing: Sift the flour and mixed spice into the fruit mixture, then fold gently. A light hand ensures the batter stays airy and prevents the bread from becoming tough and dense.
- Prep the Tin: Grease and line your loaf tin with butter and baking parchment. This prevents sticking and makes bread removal easier. A light dusting of flour can also be helpful.
- Baking Process: Bake in a preheated oven at 150°C (300°F) for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. The bread is ready when it’s golden brown and firm, and a skewer comes out clean. Minimize opening the oven door to prevent the bread from sinking or drying out.
- Cooling the Bread: Allow the bread to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack. This helps the bread maintain its shape. Avoid cutting the bread while hot to prevent it from crumbling.
By following these tips, you can create a Bara Brith that is both delicious and beautifully textured.
Variations of Mary Berry Bara Brith
Customize your Mary Berry Bara Brith with these delightful variations:
- Nutty Bara Brith: Incorporate about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chopped nuts such as walnuts, almonds, or pecans. Nuts add protein, healthy fats, crunch, and texture.
- Berry Bara Brith: Mix in about 1/2 to 1 cup of fresh or frozen berries like blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries. Berries introduce tartness, juiciness, color, and antioxidants.
- Zesty Bara Brith: Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of citrus zest from lemons, oranges, or limes. Citrus zest brightens the bread with fresh flavors and adds vitamin C and fiber.
- Candied Bara Brith: Stir in 2 to 4 tablespoons of candied peel, such as orange, lemon, or citron. Candied peel brings in sweetness, chewiness, and a festive flair.
- Spicy Bara Brith: For an aromatic twist, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of extra spices like cardamom, star anise, or vanilla. These spices enrich the bread with depth, complexity, and warmth.
How do I store Mary Berry Bara Brith’s Leftovers?
You can store Mary Berry Bara Brith leftovers in an airtight container or a ziplock bag, at room temperature or in the refrigerator, for up to 5 days.
Here are some tips to store the bread properly:
- Wrap the bread tightly with plastic wrap, foil, or parchment paper, to prevent it from drying out and losing its flavor.
- Label the container or bag with the date and name of the bread, to avoid confusion and spoilage.
- Keep the bread away from heat, moisture, and sunlight, to prevent it from molding and going bad.
- Slice the bread only when you are ready to eat it, to keep it fresh and moist longer.
How do I reheat Mary Berry Bara Brith’s Leftovers?
You can reheat Mary Berry Bara Brith leftovers in the oven or the microwave, for a few minutes, until warm and soft. Here are some tips to reheat the bread properly:
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and place the bread on a baking sheet. Cover the bread loosely with foil, to prevent it from burning and drying out. Bake the bread for 10 to 15 minutes, or until warm and soft.
- Place the bread on a microwave-safe plate and cover it with a damp paper towel, to prevent it from drying out and hardening. Microwave the bread for 10 to 20 seconds, or until warm and soft. Check the bread every 5 seconds, and adjust the time as needed.
- Enjoy the bread with your favorite toppings and accompaniments, such as butter, jam, honey, cream cheese, whipped cream, custard, ice cream, or fresh fruit.
- Nutrition value: One slice (about 100 grams) of Bara Brith contains about 189 calories, 1 gram of fat, 43 grams of carbs, 4 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fiber. This may vary depending on the type and amount of fruit, sugar, tea, and flour used.
What is the difference between Bara Brith and Welsh Cake?
Bara Brith and Welsh Cake are staples of Welsh cuisine, each with its unique characteristics. Bara Brith, a rich tea bread, incorporates a delightful mix of dried fruits soaked in tea, often enhanced with sugar and a variety of spices. This bread is traditionally baked in a loaf tin, resulting in a dense, moist texture, perfect for enjoying in slices smeared with butter. In contrast, Welsh Cake is more akin to a flat, scone-like cake, crafted from a dough containing flour, butter, sugar, eggs, currants, and a blend of spices. Cooked on a griddle to a golden brown, these cakes are lightly crisp on the outside, soft inside, and typically dusted with sugar. Both these Welsh specialties offer distinct flavors and textures, making them cherished treats in their own right.
How do I make Bara Brith vegan or gluten-free?
You can make Bara Brith vegan or gluten-free by making some simple substitutions. To make it vegan, you can replace the egg with a flax egg (1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons of water) or a mashed banana. You can also use vegan butter or oil instead of butter. To make it gluten-free, you can replace the self-raising flour with a gluten-free flour blend, and add 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum. You can also use gluten-free tea and dried fruit.