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I absolutely love my recipe for Gluten Free Bara Brith, it’s super easy to make, plus it’s fat and dairy free too. The first time I ever had Bara Brith was on holiday with my parents in Wales, my memory is a bit hazy but we’d just visited a mine, I opted for the Bara Brith in the nearby Café with a nice cup of tea to thaw out (my sisters and I were practically weaned on tea!) I seem to recall there was a tiny earthquake that day too. Just think, all those memories conjured up by a simple slice of fruit cake.
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Can I make this Gluten Free Bara Brith vegan?
I have since made a gluten, dairy and egg free recipe so that I too can have my cake and eat it here’s my Easy Vegan Bara Brith recipe, it’s a smaller loaf weighing 1lb instead of 2lb.
How long should you soak the fruit in tea?
Fair warning, this isn’t one of those cakes that you can decide that you’d like some with a nice cup of tea in an hours time. To get a super moist Bara Brith you need to soak the fruit overnight, it makes a huge difference to the fruit after soaking up all the cold tea – yes, I said cold tea! Each currant, sultana or raisin is simply waiting to burst in your mouth once they’ve soaked for this length of time.
However, on the occasion I re-made this loaf to rephotograph, I cheated (it does happen, I’m not Mary Poppins and practically perfect in every way!) I only left the fruit to soak for 30-40 mins this time and just for a change I decided to use loose leaf earl grey tea that my friend Sally gave me for my Birthday! It was a stroke of genius and really adds a gorgeous perfume to the bake.
Granted, the fruit was not as plump as the overnight fruit in the images above but I’m saying it is possible to make this with time restrictions.
WHAT IS BARA BRITH?
I have to say I’ve loved reading up on the history of Bara Brith. For anyone new to my website, I ought to explain that from time to time I disappear down a rabbit hole and research the origins of recipes. It’s the historian in me, I can’t help it but if you’re going to be a history nerd, be a history nerd of food at least!
Bara Brith is translated from the Welsh word Bara (bread) and Brith (speckled) so the literal title is Speckled Bread. This was a more accurate description of the bake originally as Bara Brith used to be a yeasted bread.
As with many old British bread recipes, self raising flours replaced the yeast element as we looked for bakes that lasted longer and weren’t tough as old boots the next day.
Why add tea to a Bara Brith?
This brings me onto the tea and how that ended up in a fruit cake. The truth is that it’s not entirely clear how tea came to be a main ingredient. What is clear is that Bara Brith has always been enjoyed as a teatime bake with a cup of tea. Any self respecting tearoom in Wales should offer this combination ‘meal deal’. I know, I’ve been to Wales and enjoyed it first-hand.
I believe that as tea was available to any Tom, Dick and Harry by the 1800’s (not just the upper classes), it made perfect sense to soak the dried fruit in cold tea to plump it up overnight before adding to the fruit loaf.
One more fascinating fact before we move on. Did you know that Bara Brith travelled across the world to Argentina? It came about as the Welsh were displaced as a result of the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain after the 1850’s. As we see with many traditional British bakes, the recipe went with them and was held dear by the settlers as a link back to the green grass of home. If you’re interested in reading more about the recipe travelling overseas then you can do so here Bara Brith, The Great Welsh Tradition.
How long with this cake keep?
This Bara Brith fruit loaf will keep well in an airtight container for a few days. You can freeze the loaf too so why not cut slices and wrap each individual slice in baking paper then pop into a reusable ziplock bag for another day. This is perfect for unexpected guests to serve with a cup of tea, simply defrost at room temperature for 30 mins or pop into the oven/microwave to gently warm.
Other delicious gluten free fruit cake recipes
Gluten Free Bara Brith Recipe
If you make it and like the recipe I would be eternally grateful if you popped back and commented leaving a star rating as this will tell search engines that this recipe is worth checking out and others will get to find it in searches.
Gluten Free Bara Brith
- 400 g dried mixed fruit any combination but I tend to use mixed fruit
- 250 g light muscovado sugar
- 300 ml strong hot tea I normally use 3 teabags and remove them before pouring onto fruit
- 350 g Gluten Free Self Raising Flour
- 1 large egg(s)
- Boil kettle and add hot water to 3 teabags in a measuring jug, leave to steep (stew) whilst weighing other ingredients.
- Measure out the fruit and sugar in a large bowl, pour over the tea (with teabags removed) stir, cover with a tea towel and leave ideally for 8 or more hours.
- Read a book, watch 3 films, go to bed…..I just go back and give the fruit a stir form time to time.
- Stir sugar and fruit mixture to mix in any sugar that has settled at the bottom of the bowl, weight out the flour and sieve into the fruit mixture, stir to combine.
- Next add the beaten egg and mix to combine.
- Pour into a greased and lined 2lb loaf tin. NOTE: you may have a bit extra, see how it goes but this cake does not rise massively so don't be scared to fill the tin quite high.
- Cook on 170°C | 150°C fan | 325°F | Gas 3 for 1 hour 20 mins before checking, it will be crispy on top.
- Check the loaf is baked through by inserting a skewer or cocktail stick. If not return to the oven for another 5 mins (maybe cover with foil loosely if getting too brown on top).
- Once baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature.
- This cake is super scrummy served with lots of butter and a cup of tea!
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