Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Childhood baking: Minature Bara Briths

I suspect we all have one.

No, not a bellybutton.

Nor an adoration of pop star that is quite frankly embarrassing and, even under duress, has never been acknowledged publicly (I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours).

We all have a favourite childhood bake.

The bake that in one taste, sniff or word brings tumbling back memories of a minature version of yourself agog at the wonder that is this item of childhood delight.

The bake for me that brings back rose-tinted, nostalgic rumblings from my tum is Bara Brith. I know I'm slightly biased, being from Wales and all, but Bara Brith is the best. 

Some bake it as a yeasty speckled bread, but for us, it was always a fruity, lightly spiced sticky fruit loaf. I'd travel back to university each term with two tightly wrapped loaves, the Bara Brith cuddled in a layer of baking parchment and a layer of foil. They would be very welcomed back in York, where for the first year the little Baby Belling in halls was not terribly conducive to ten people being able to cook a decent meal. It was ceremoniously used one Pancake Day and the rest of the year we survived on Cornflakes, pizza and alcohol. Only sometimes all together.

This is the (sacred) recipe, which I've made into miniatures. 



(for five mini loaves)

Half a cup of cold tea
6 oz (170g) dried mixed fruit
3 oz (85g) brown sugar
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
6 oz (170g) self-raising flour
1 egg

Five mini loaf cake cases

1. Soak the fruit and sugar in the cold tea overnight (if timing permits; the fruit and sugar should have soaked up the majority of the tea)
2. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3/325 F/160 C. 
3. Beat the egg and add the egg to the fruit mixture, using a wooden soon to mix throughly
4. Sift the flour and mixed spice and stir into the mixture with a wooden spoon
5. Divide the mixture into the mini loaf cases (the mixture should fill approximately three-quarters of the loaf cases)
6. Pop in the oven for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the loaves comes out clean

Baker's notes....
  • Bara Brith lasts days. You could conquer Everest with it and still have enough left over for a stroll up Snowdonia
  • It also freezes well, wrap tightly in freezer bags and freeze for up to three months
  • You could spread a little Welsh butter on the slices, but adding jam is blasphemy 
  • If you don't have ready mixed dried fruit, you could use a mixture of sultanas, raisins, currents and peel


  1. They look yummy. I have never made Bara Brith but feel compelled to have a go.
    And are we confessing our childhood pop idols? Mine was Russ Conway. Yes, really, but I was only about six years old and didn't know any better, until Elvis arrived on the scene.

  2. I LOVE Bara Brith and those look wonderful.....and what a great idea to make mini ones too ~ more to a bite than a slice!

  3. These just look so sweet, but I'd be tempted to eat a whole one. Another baking must for the autumn:-)

  4. They look gorgeous - I love teabreads, whether they're called Bara Brith or not! And butter is almost obligatory in my house! I'm not confessing my pop idol though....

    Sorry to be irritating but do you mean 6oz (175g) or 3oz (85g)?

  5. Thank you so much C, for pointing my error out! Ingredients now corrected, thank you very much again!

  6. These miniature Bara Briths look good enough to bring to Everest! I don't even recall what my childhood bake was, perhaps my sweet tooth developed later than the rest of my body. It's my first time here too (thanks for visiting mine) and I already love your humour. I studied in Cardiff for a year then went to Uni in Yorkshire (sadly not York) but I used to haunt Betty's in York at the weekends ;-).

  7. I made Bara Brith for the first time a few months ago - it is wonderful. I didn't know that it freezes well, that's a good tip. I'll definitely try out your authentic recipe!

  8. Those look so cute and tasty as minatures. Loafly! (no, not funny?) Are you going to do a series of posts on childhood baking? Could be fun! I don't think I can pin point a particular childhood favourite. My Granny did beautiful kisses, shortbread, dropscones, rock cakes and fairy cakes/buns decorated with a thin, pink icing and half a glace cherry. All favourites :)

  9. These look interesting - I have to admit I've never heard of a Bara Brith before. Love the miniature version.


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