Bara Brith, more popular as ‘speckled bread of Wales’ is a unique nut free non-alcoholic tea cake aka fruit cake loaded with fruits and raisins. Why unique? This tea cake has no nuts at all (a buzz alert for all nut allergic people) and surprisingly it is flavoured with real tea. In welsh language the phrase bara brith means literally speckled bread; bara is welsh word for bread and brith stands for speckled. It is often baked in shape of a loaf and toasted lightly before serving. Bara Brith is served with honey & salted butter or cheese and enjoyed with a cup of good tea. So technically Bara Brith is a real tea soaked ‘tea-cake’ which is served on tea time to enjoy over tea. (Sounds like those tongue twisters… lol)
As I mentioned before Bara brith is is flavoured with real brewed tea. The raisins and dried fruits are soaked in strongly brewed tea overnight to plum them up and next day tea soaked fruits are added in the cake batter along with the tea and some additional spices. Traditional bara brith is baked as bread, risen with yeast and loaded with tea flavoured raisins and fruits. But in modern days bara brith became more popular as tea cake rather than a mildly sweet bread. The cake version uses either self-rising flour or baking powder as rising agent and flavoured with some additional spices to the tea. The usage of spices can vary from family to family according to preferences.
Bara Brith is not just a beautifully flavoured tea cake it has some royal tag with it. It is the favourite cake of Charles, Prince of Wales. I had shared Classic Victoria Sandwich Cake before which is a favourite of his mother, Queen Elizabeth. No wonder these delicious sweet treats got handpicked by the royal family of England. This bara brith cake is gorgeously speckled and vibrant with tea soaked various fruits. It more looked like a cake jeweled with different gems. I must say it is one of a kind in its own way!
Fruitcakes are not so loved in my family; these are probably the only cakes which keep lying on shelves for days. Honestly even I’m not a fan of repetitive things! As we are enjoying Classic Christmas Fruitcake since childhood, I had taken a mission to bake different kinds of fruitcakes on every Christmas. Few years back I tried Eggless Christmas Cake with Date Walnut which was an instant hit! Then we also have my mother’s Classic English Tutti Frutti Cake which I bake almost throughout the year as tea-time cake. So this year I was hoping to try Scottish Dundee Cake or Whiskey Cake which are pinned on my desk for more than 2-3 years now.
All was set! And then, only then my Lecreuset set of mixing jug and pie pan from Better Butter team had arrived! Take a look here; aren’t they cute? By the way I won that beautiful set for my Eggs in Spaghetti Nest recipe on Better Butter’s ‘egg-cellent’ recipe contest. And I found out about this Bara Brith on Lecreuset’s website only. I was so excited to bake a cake which is using freshly brewed tea just like my Chai Masala Tea Cake. And my happiness got doubled when I saw that bara brith doesn’t require any alcohol. My father is strictly against alcohol (but he is a complete teaholic) and he can’t enjoy my Christmas cake as I always end up adding alcohol in the fruit-mix. So this nonalcoholic fruitcake seemed to be a perfect thing for my new Christmas Fruit Cake catalog. And here is the result!!
When I was styling my freshly baked bara brith I knew I had to pick some gorgeous props which will complement this magnificent piece of work. I had went through my best possible brass props and made this impromptu cake stand with an aged brass wine glass and a brass plate (both I got in family inheritance). And I happily paired them with this brass tea set which is the latest addition to my brass collection. When I had shared these images on my Instagram handle some of my friends and even strangers had asked me about the props so I’m sharing the details here. If you are interested to buy these check here for the brass tea set and check here for the teacup saucer set (brass).
Watch my elaborated step by step video recipe of Bara Brith.
Read the entire recipe and Notes carefully before you start cooking. Do make sure all ingredients are at room temperature (unless mentioned) and weighed or measured correctly in appropriate weighing machine or measuring instruments such as cups or spoons. Remember these are not regular cups or spoons which is used in daily life.
Serving & Storage:
Keep the cake on wire rack and brush with honey while still hot/warm. Allow the cake to cool enough to handle and then remove from pan, wrap in foil and keep in airtight container.
Cake will be good at room temperature for 3-5 days. For longer shelf life refrigerate the cake in same manner mentioned before.
Serve Bara Brith Tea Cake with slice of butter and more honey. This raisin cake is accompanied with a good cup of Earl Grey.
- For Soaking:
- Earl Grey tea: 2 tea bags or 2 tsp, any other strong black tea will work
- Boiling water: 300ml
- Raisin: 100g
- Sultana: 100g
- Current: 100g
- Tutti-frutti: 100g
- Ground Spices:
- Cinnamon: 1 tsp
- Ginger: 1 tsp
- Nutmeg: ½ tsp
- Orange zest: ⅛ cup or zest of one large orange
- For Baking:
- Flour: 400g, 3 cups
- Baking powder: 1 tsp
- Butter: 115g
- Brown Sugar, dark: 175g, 1 cup
- Egg: 2
- Orange juice: ¼ cup
- Milk: 2 tbsp
- Dip tea bags in boiling water and soak for 5 mins; discard bags and bring tea to room temperature. If using tea leaves brew tea in boiling water for 5 mins and follow the same as mentioned before.
- Soak all dried-fruits in room temperature tea for 6 hours to overnight. Cover the pot with a kitchen towel.
- Preheat the oven at 160C and line in 8” round baking pan with baking paper.
- Sieve flour and baking powder in a separate bowl, twice and set aside until needed.
- Whisk butter and sugar together in a bowl with a whisk or spatula. Add egg one at a time and whisk. It’s really doesn’t need to be fluffy or well whisked. Just mix them, that’s it.
- Now add the mixture to the soaked fruits and mix lightly with a spatula.
- Gradually add flour mix, spices and orange juice and mix until everything is incorporated. Don’t over mix.
- Add dash of milk at a time if mixture is too sticky or dry. Mixture should pour in dollops.
- Transfer the mixture into the prepared baking pan, cover the pan with foil and bake for 75 mins. Insert a skewer in the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean cake is done, otherwise bake for another 10-15 mins.
2. If you are looking for alcoholic Bara Brith mix whiskey in tea liquor at 1:2 ratio when tea is at room temperature.
3. Soak fruits when the tea is at room temperature, otherwise fruits will be mushy.
4. If you are in hurry combine all dry ingredients and wet ingredients in two separate bowls and then pour dry-mix in wet-mix slowly and mix with a spatula. It will cut down the prep time.
5. This cake can be cut down in smaller portions and freeze up to 3 months.