Bara brith

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Bara brith
Bara Brith (3320696816).jpg
Bara brith, a traditional Welsh bread
Alternative names Speckled bread
Type Sweet bread
Place of origin Wales
Main ingredients Yeast, mixed fruit (such as raisins, currants and candied peel)
Variations Without yeast, using self raising flour instead
Cookbook: Bara brith  Media: Bara brith

Bara brith, sometimes known as "speckled bread" (the literal meaning of the original Welsh-language name), can be either a yeast bread enriched with dried fruit or made with self-raising flour (no yeast). It is traditionally flavoured with tea, dried fruits and mixed spices, and is served sliced and buttered at tea time. A decrease in popularity of it led to supermarket Morrisons removing it from their shelves in 2006, and a year later a survey showed that 85% of teenagers in the UK had never tried it. It has been subsequently championed by celebrity chefs such as Bryn Williams, and is known to be favoured by Charles, Prince of Wales. Several variations on bara brith have been made, including changing it into a chocolate and into ice-cream.

History[edit]

Bara brith derived its name from the Welsh language, "bara" meaning bread and "brith" translating as speckled. It is claimed to have been invented by a Welsh chef who added dried fruit and spices to a bread dough, creating the first version of the traditional Welsh tea loaf.[1] It has subsequently been used as a coloqiualism - to "over spice the bara brith" means to do something to excess.[2]

In 2006, British supermarket chain Morrisons withdrew bara brith from sale at 19 of its Welsh based stores. Complaints were issued in the press, but the company insisted that the bread was removed because of lack of sales.[3] A survey conducted by British supermarket chain Sainsbury's in 2006 showed that 36% of teenagers in Wales surveyed had never tried bara brith. When responses across the UK were viewed, some 85% of teenagers had never tried the traditional Welsh bread.[4]

Celebrity chef Phil Vickery cooked bara brith in Brynsiencyn, Anglesey, in 2011 for a segment on the ITV television series This Morning. He used a traditional recipe which had been handed down to local chef Nerys Roberts through her family.[5] Her bakery had previously supplied British supermarket chain Safeway with bara brith, before it was bought out by Morrisons.[6] Beca Lyne-Pirkis baked a bara brith for one her entries during the fourth season of the BBC television series The Great British Bake Off in 2013. She based it off her grandmother's recipe, although found it difficult to complete within the three hours allocated for that round. But, it won praise from judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.[7]

Recipe[edit]

The bread is made by mixing flour (either white or self raising), yeast (if not using self raising flour), butter, mixed dried fruit (such as raisins, currants and sultanas), mixed spices and an egg.[7] Some recipes favour soaking the dried fruit in tea overnight before the baking.[1] This mixture is then proven to allow fermentation to take place. After an initial period, the air is knocked out of the mixture and it is allowed to prove once more. This period of preparation can take up to two hours, including the resting time for the bread mixture. It is then baked in an oven.[7] Bara brith is traditionally served at tea time, alongside tea. It is normally sliced with butter spread on one side.[1]

Variations[edit]

In Argentina, bara brith is also known as torta negra ("black cake"). One of the most traditional foods coming out of the Chubut valleys, it was brought by the Welsh settlers who started arriving in the country in 1865.[8] Other variations exist within Wales. Lyne-Pirkis' version of the bara brith on The Great British Bake Off substituted a tea oil to replace the overnight soaking process for the fruit.[7] In E. Smith Twiddy's The Little Welsh Cookbook, a cup of cold tea is included in the mixture, and marmalade is used as a glaze.[9] Celebrity chef Bryn Williams uses lard in his recipe, and a combination of raisins and candied peel as the mixed fruit.[10]

The flavours of a bara brith have also been made into other types of food. Pemberton's Victorian Chocolates in Llanboidy, Carmarthenshire, developed a bara brith inspired chocolate in 2009, using a tea flavoured cream filled chocolate complemented with dried fruit and possessing a cake-like texture.[1] When Charles, Prince of Wales visited Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, in 2011, he tried bara brith ice-cream. It had been created by a local ice-cream parlour who knew of the Prince's fondness for the bread.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Williams, Sally (11 April 2009). "Crumbs. Chocolate Inspired by Bara Brith". Western Mail. Retrieved 13 April 2016 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  2. ^ Shipton, Martin (14 April 2010). "Is Ieuan Over-Spicing the Bara Brith with Barnett as Pounds 300m in Cuts Loom?". Western Mail. Retrieved 13 April 2016 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  3. ^ "Give Us Back Our Bara Brith". Daily Post. 4 February 2006. Retrieved 13 April 2016 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ Williams, Sally (5 July 2007). "'Junk-fed' teenagers shun traditional British dishes". Western Mail. Retrieved 13 April 2016 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  5. ^ "TV Chef Tries Hand at Firm's Bara Brith". Western Mail. 15 November 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2016 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  6. ^ Parri, Ian (15 February 2006). "Feedback". Daily Post. Retrieved 13 April 2016 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  7. ^ a b c d "Beca's Bara Brith with a Twist Is a Bake off Hit". South Wales Echo. 16 September 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2016 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  8. ^ Bain, Andrew (2009). Lonely Planet's 1000 Ultimate Experiences. Victoria: Lonely Planet. p. 291. ISBN 978-1-74179-945-3. 
  9. ^ Hershey, Sarah (1 July 2001). "Bannocks". Countryside and Small Stock Journal. Retrieved 13 April 2016 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  10. ^ "Wales on a Plate". Western Mail. 3 March 2012. Retrieved 13 April 2016 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  11. ^ Stone, Antony (2 July 2011). "Charles Tastes End of His Tour - with Bara Brith Ice-Cream". Western Mail. Retrieved 13 April 2016 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 

External links[edit]