Minor British Institutions: Bara Brith

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The easiest, but incorrect, way to describe Bara Brith is as a Welsh version of Dundee Cake. But it is a lot, lot less rich and fruity than its Scottish counterpart, and is not really a cake as such, but bread.

Indeed "Bara Brith" means "Speckled Bread" in Welsh, and like all the best delicacies, its origins are slightly obscure, though certainly Welsh.

Someone in the principality sometime in the 19th century decided that not only would it make a nice treat to chuck a few bits of dried fruit into their bread mix, but to soak the fruit overnight in tea.

It isn't that easy to taste the unusual marinade in the finished bread, but connoisseurs will note that it has a slightly dry quality, making Bara Brith the ideal accompaniment to a nice cuppa, especially with a coating of Welsh butter.

Glazing with honey is optional, but seems to take it a little too far from its humble origins. An ideal snack for the age of austerity.