I have a weakness for bread, any type of bread, but most of all homemade bread, so I was quite excited when Lysy of Munchkin Mail chose “Bread” as the theme for our Intercontinental Blogging Challenge. The concept being that periodically we pick a theme and each prepares a dish from the others native cuisine based on the theme. For our bread challenge, Lysy has prepared Steamed Boston Brown Bread along with a complementary meal. Your must pop over and read about her experience preparing a steamed bread recipe, I believe Alton Brown would be very proud of her resourcefulness! The hardest part regarding the theme of “Bread” was choosing which English bread to bake. I narrowed it down to the uniquely shaped Cottage Loaf and the fruity enriched “speckled bread” Bara Brith. The sweet appeal of the honey glazed Bara Brith won me over, I could just imagine the warm from the oven bread smothered in butter, delicious!
Now that I had decided which bread to make for the challenge I had to pick a recipe, easier said then done! It quickly became clear that there were two different styles of Bara Brith, one being a yeast bread and the other a more cake-like quick bread. I debated back and forward regarding which version was most authentic and decided on the yeast version based on a recipe from Delia who I trust is quite knowledgeable on the subject. I varied from Delia’s recipe in a few different ways but kept true to the overall concept with very delicious success!
It IS a small world and I must point out the pleasant coincidence of coming across an English “food blogging friend” who has also prepared Bara Brith using Delia’s recipe. Where as it’s not all that shocking that an English woman prepared Delia’s recipe for Bara Brith, what did surprise me was that upon searching for “bara brith recipe” on the Internet, Antonia of Food Glorious Food! was the 3rd result of 13,300. It really is a small world 🙂 I must give credit to Antonia for the idea of soaking the dried fruit in Earl Grey before incorporating it into the dough, very good tip!
Bara Brith is a traditional Welsh sweet bread, containing lots of tea-soaked dried fruit, which gives the loaf its speckled appearance.
1 lb. (about 3 ½ cups) flour (I used 1 ½ cups whole wheat and 2 cups all-purpose)
8 oz. (1 cup) soy milk
1 package SAF Perfect Rise Yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoon mixed spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, etc.)
2 oz. (about ⅓ cup lightly packed) brown sugar
3 oz. (6 T.) butter, melted
¼ cup plain or vanilla soy yogurt (in place of the egg)
12 oz. (2 heaping cups) mixed dried fruit (currants, raisins, etc.)
Earl Grey for soaking the fruit
honey, to glaze the warm loaf
2 lb. (9″ X 5″) loaf tin, well buttered
Combine the flour and soy milk in your mixing bowl, stirring to combine. Allow the mixture to sit for about 5 minutes so the flour can become hydrated. Add the yeast, salt, spices, brown sugar, melted butter and soy yogurt to the flour and soy milk, stirring to combine. You can knead the dough by hand or use your electric mixer (as I did) with the dough hook attachment and knead for about 10 minutes, until a nice dough has formed. Transfer the dough to a buttered bowl, rolling the dough around until lightly coated in butter. Cover with plastic wrap and a plate or towel (to hold the plastic in place) and set aside to rise for 1½ to 2 hours, until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, place the dried fruit into a bowl of warm, strong Earl Grey so the fruit can hydrate a bit and plump up. When your dough has completed it’s first rise, drain the fruit thoroughly and pat dry. Lightly flour your work surface and sprinkle half of the dried fruit onto the floured area. Pour your dough on top of the dried fruit, gently flattening it out into a rough rectangle shape. Place the remaining half of the dried fruit on top of the dough and fold the dough over once or twice, gently incorporating the dried fruit. Pat the dough into a rectangle that is almost as wide as your bread pan. Roll the dough into a log, pinching the seam with each turn to develop tension in the dough. Pinch the final seam closed and rock the dough back and forward a few times before placing it in the buttered loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel and let rise for about 45 minutes to an hour. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Place the risen loaf in a 375 degree oven and bake for 60 minutes, covering it half way through with foil to prevent the top from becoming too dark. Note: I checked the internal temperature of my loaf at 45 minutes and it was 170 degrees so I left it in another 10 minutes (total of 55 minutes) and the internal temperature was 195 degrees, which is about right.
Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Drizzle the loaf with honey while still slightly warm and enjoy!
Makes 1 loaf.
Thank you Lysy, if not for you I would never have made this yummy bread!