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Bara Brith

There are several different versions of this Welsh 'speckled bread'. Many of them don't contain yeast; but, for me, this version is the nicest and if there's any left over it's delicious toasted. In my Welsh childhood, I remember it made with yeast, very spicy and spread with lots of butter. Please note that easy-blend yeast is not suitable for this recipe.

 
 
 Bara Brith

  Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients
 8 fl oz (225 ml) milk
 2 oz (50 g) brown sugar, plus 1 teaspoon
 4 level teaspoons dried yeast
 1 lb (450 g) strong plain flour
 1 level teaspoon salt
 3 oz (75 g) butter or margarine
 1 level teaspoon mixed spice
 1 egg, beaten
 12 oz (350 g) mixed dried fruit
 clear honey, to glaze
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Equipment

You will also need a Deliaonline Silverwood loaf tin (or standard 2lb loaf tin), greased.

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course and Delia Smith's Illustrated Complete Cookery Course.

Method

First warm the milk in a small saucepan till it's hand-hot, and then pour it into a bowl. Whisk in the teaspoon of sugar, followed by the yeast, then leave it in a warm place to froth for about 15 minutes.

Now sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, stirring in the remaining 2 oz (50 g) sugar as well. Then rub the fat into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the mixed spice next, then pour in the beaten egg and frothed yeast, and mix to a dough.

Now turn the dough on to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes), then replace the dough in the bowl and cover with a damp cloth or some clingfilm. Leave in a warm place to rise until it has doubled in size – about 1½ hours. After that, turn the dough out and knock it down to get the air out, then gradually knead the fruit in and pat out to a rectangular shape. Roll it up from one short side to the other and put it in the loaf tin (seam-side down).

Place the tin inside an oiled plastic bag and leave it to rise, until the dough has rounded nicely above the edge of the tin (about 30-45 minutes). Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C). When the dough has risen and springs back when pressed lightly with a floured finger, remove the bag; transfer the loaf to the oven and bake on the shelf below centre for 30 minutes. Then cover the top of the loaf tin with foil to prevent it over-browning, and continue to bake for a further 30 minutes.

Turn the loaf out, holding it in a tea-cloth in one hand and tapping the base with the other. It should sound hollow – if not, pop it back upside down (without the tin) for 5 minutes more. Cool the loaf on a wire rack, and brush the top with clear honey to make it nice and sticky, before the loaf cools. 

Slice thinly and serve buttered.

 

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