Sunday, 27 February 2011

From the archives: bara brith

It's almost St David's Day, so what better time to take another look at one of my favourite Welsh specialities?

One of Wales's most famous specialities is bara brith, or 'speckled bread'. The speckles are dried fruit; the bread is a sweet tea bread. It supposedly originated when dried fruit was mixed into the last of the bread dough for a treat.
There are endless variations on the recipe, with each region having its own. One major difference is the use of either yeast (mainly in the north) or baking powder (in the south). Some versions call for mixed dried fruit, others sultanas, and the spices also vary. My family's recipe contains no butter and has the fruit soaking overnight in black tea, but others disagree. There's even controversy on how to eat it: although tradition apparently dictates otherwise, many people enjoy it spread with butter.

The teabread has a South American connection too. Welsh immigrants to Argentina brought the recipe with them, and it is still made there today although it has gained a Spanish name, torta negra.

1 comment:

Hels said...

Excellent post. Of course Welsh mothers added dried fruit into the last of the bread dough for a treat. It didn't cost much and it gave the kids a thrill.

I think making the most of limited resources enhanced the cuisine of all cultures. Gefilte fish was a huge success in Russia and Poland because mothers didn't have enough money to buy fish for all the children. So they minced their bits of fish in with lots of bread and onions, and came up with a tasty and cheap moulded fish balls.