Traditional “Bara Brith” Tea Loaf – A traditional recipe for Bara Brith, which translates as “speckled bread” in Welsh. This recipe makes a large, rich Bara Brith tea loaf, but is made with SR flour and not yeast, so can be made very quickly and easily. However, you do need to allow time to soak the fruit overnight, but after that, it’s a very simple “all in one” recipe for this beautiful Welsh tea loaf.
Perfect for a Proper Welsh High Tea
As we edge closer to St David’s Day on the 1st March, I am sharing a lovely recipe for Traditional “Bara Brith” Tea Loaf. Bara Brith was originally made with yeast, and in North Wales you will still see the yeast versions of this tea loaf in local bakeries. I have made Bara Brith with yeast before and it makes a lovely fruited bread, similar to Lincolnshire Plum Bread. However today’s recipe for Traditional “Bara Brith” Tea Loaf is made with self raising flour and eggs as the raising agents, and is simplicity itself to make.
A Bara Brith is a classic British tea loaf or tea bread, a fruited cake that is baked in a loaf tin and is classed as a “quick bread”. A quick bread is a cake or loaf that is raised with no yeast, where baking powder, SR flour and/or eggs are used as the raising agents. They are staple tea time treats, and once the fruit has been soaked they can be made in about an hour and a half. The soaking of the fruit is essential, and if normal “English Breakfast Tea” isn’t’ your cup of tea (sorry!), then you can use Lapsang Souchong for a smoky taste, Earl Grey for an aromatic flavour, or any other black tea of your choice.
My recipe for Traditional “Bara Brith” Tea Loaf is a rich, moist tea loaf that is packed with fruit, including dates and preserved ginger. It’s a recipe I created based on a Welsh commercial Bara Brith I buy in the local bakery, and after a couple of attempts, I think I’ve perfected the recipe. Most recipes for Bara Brith suggest just dried fruit and mixed spice in their list of ingredients, but the tea loaf I buy from the local bakery has a definite toffee like flavour with a subtle layer of ginger. And, it’s a lovely sticky loaf that is rich and dense, which is evident in my recipe is too.
So, as well as a goodly amount of dried mixed fruit and peel, with some warm and aromatic mixed spice, I have also added dried ginger, chopped dates and preserved (crystallised) ginger in today’s recipe for Traditional “Bara Brith” Tea Loaf. I have made this several times now and it has gone down a storm with my Welsh neighbours and friends, as well as my family too. To get that essential sticky topping, I glazed my Bara Brith with some homemade marmalade, which is also added in the main cake recipe for an extra citrus kick.
Serve this Traditional “Bara Brith” Tea Loaf in thick slices slathered in butter as part of the perfect Welsh High Tea. The loaf keeps very well, similar to any rich fruit cake, in an airtight container or tin, and as well as being the ideal “panad”, it would be a welcome addition to any school or office lunch box. I hope you enjoy my recipe, which is shared below, and please do let me know if you make my recipe for Welsh Bara Brith, Karen.
The expression in Wales to “Over spice the Bara Brith” means to do something in excess!
Disclaimer: [AD] The beautiful Mason Cash Batter Bowl that I used in my recipe and which is shown in the photos, was a gift from The Big Kitchen. I was not paid to share photos of this gift on my site or to create this recipe. RRP: £17:50
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Traditional “Bara Brith” Tea Loaf RECIPE
Welsh Bara Brith
A traditional recipe for Bara Brith, which translates as "speckled bread" in Welsh. This recipe makes a large, rich Bara Brith tea loaf, but is made with SR flour and not yeast, so it can be made very quickly and easily. However, you do need to allow time to soak the fruit overnight, but after that, it's a very simple "all in one" recipe for this beautiful Welsh tea loaf.
- 450g (1lb) mixed dried fruit and peel
- 50g chopped, pitted dates
- 50g chopped preserved ginger
- 300ml (1/2 pint) hot tea
- 4 tablespoons marmalade plus extra for the glaze
- 2 free-range eggs, beaten
- 25g butter, melted
- 4 tablespoons soft brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
- 450g (1lb) SR Flour
- Place all of the dried fruit, dates and ginger into a large jug or bowl, and pour over the hot tea. Cover and allow to soak overnight.
- The next day when you are ready to bake the Bara Brith, pre-heat the oven to 170C/350F/Gas mark 3 and grease and line a 2lb (900g) loaf tin with butter and baking paper.
- Put the marmalade, beaten eggs, melted butter, sugar, spices and the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the tea-soaked dried fruit.
- Mix well with a wooden spoon until everything is amalgamated. Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 1 and a half hours, until the loaf is well risen and the centre is cooked through. (If the loaf gets too brown whilst cooking, cover it with some foil)
- Remove the loaf from the oven, brush over the marmalade glaze whilst the loaf is hot and then allow to cool in the tin for 5 to 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.
- Cut into slices once the Bara Brith is cold, and spread with butter if desired. Store cake in an airtight tin.
If you don't have any self raising (SR) flour, use plain flour with 1 teaspoon baking powder added.
Nutrition InformationYield 12 slices Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 129Total Fat 3gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 36mgSodium 32mgCarbohydrates 25gFiber 1gSugar 14gProtein 2g
Nutrition information is an approximate calculation based on the ingredients listed and it can vary according to portion sizes and when different ingredients are used.
Hi again Karen, I sound like a old pal.we make tea loaves on a regular basis for friends family neighbours,the elderly Irish lady next door always says no it’s barm black,.while my mother in law likes plenty of marmalade and referes to if as sticky bread .my late father even called it poor mans Christmas cake.so many names lost count. we’ve only made your granny cake just the once but it beats all the other tea breads hands down.
Karen Burns-Booth says
Hello again Micky,
I love it when readers interact on my site, and yes, we seem like we are already old pals!
There are so many regional British tea cake recipes, such as Barm Brack as your Irish neighbour calls it.
I am so pleased to hear that my recipe for Granny’s Tea Cake is a hit, it’s always the simple recipes that seem to resonate with people I think.
THANKS again for leaving a comment here, I do love to hear from my readers.
Oh I do love a simple tea loaf and your ?Bara Brith looks delicious.
Karen Burns-Booth says
Thanks Janice – it’s a rather rich and sticky version based on my favourite one from our local bakery!
this looks wonderful karen. the ginger and the marmalade must give this loaf a wonderful flavour. cheers sherry
Janice Pattie says
Thanks for including Mary’s Tea Loaf in your post. I do love a tea loaf and Bara Brith is a classic.
Karen Burns-Booth says
My pleasure Janice
Brian Jones says
One bara brith recipe I used had me add the dry mixture to the fruit and tea, retaining any liquid not absorbed by the fruit. In your recipe, so I use any unabsorbed tea, or do I strain it out?
Karen Burns-Booth says
You should be able to use all the liquid. Add it gradually and if it looks too runny, the cake mixture, don’t add any more. I always use all of mine however.