Welsh bara brith teabread.

flag-mini-Wales Continuing on a culinary exploration of Wales through the pages of Best of Traditional Welsh Cooking ...
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While I am eager to try dishes like “
Anglesey eggs” and “Cockle cakes” (still trying to figure out where I can buy cockles in these parts), I’m sort of stuck in the “Breads, cakes & pancakes” section. I am hopelessly weak when it comes to flour-based food, especially yeast and grainy bread, and bready things like scones, cakes, and rolls.
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My first choice of bread is always a homemade bread sliced thickly, toasted and slathered with butter and preserves, or topped with ham and cheese. But I do love sweets! And this Welsh both bread and sweet.
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Bara (“bread”) brith (“speckled”) is a yeast-raised fruit bread, and bara brith teabread is its quick baking-powder counterpart. Full of tea-plumped raisins, currants and other dried fruits, it is speckled, indeed. The recipes I have for bara brith, and its Irish cousin brack (from the Gaelic “brec” for “speckled”), also call for candied peel, which has limited (read: NO) appeal in my house, so I leave it out.
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With just a little advanced prep the fruit needs to plump and soak up strongly brewed tea for a few hours or overnight this bread is easily mixed and baked. Most recipes call for raisins, sultanas and currants which. Since that amounts to three kinds of raisins, I like to throw in a bit more variety.
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In addition to raisins and currants, I used chopped apricots, craisins and orange-scented prunes. You could also add variety with flavored tea, such as peppery Earl Grey or bergamot-scented Lady Grey. I used Bigelow's Constant Comment, with its distinctive fragrance of orange and clove.
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My favorite part of this recipe comes from its description in the book: “It is meant to be sliced and buttered, but it also tastes good just as it is.” There ... it was meant to be buttered! I love butter, and will someday write an Ode to Butter. In my world it is a food group unto itself.
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Bara brith teabread wears a few generous smears of butter quite well, but is truly delicious as is moist, sweet, and you really can taste tea in the fruit. I also find that sweet breads (not sweetbreads!) are taste-tea topped with cold spreadable cream cheese. Remember those cans of Boston Brown Bread? We smothered rounds of it with cream cheese. And odd as it sounds, try topping bara brith with slices of mild cheddar or monterey jack. It goes, I promise.
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Once the bread is cooled you can slice and store it in a heavy duty resealable bag in the freezer. Then just pull off a few slices at a time and defrost on the counter, in a microwave or toaster oven. Serve up with nice hot tea. And don't forget the butter!
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Welsh Bara Brith
From "Best of Traditional Welsh Cooking"

1-1/3 cups mixed dried fruit (including chopped mixed candied peel, optional)
1 cup hot strong tea, strained
2 cups self-rising flour
OR 2 cups regular flour plus 1 Tablespoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mixed spice, such as apple or pumpkin pie spice
2 Tablespoons butter, chilled
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten

Put dried fruit into a heatproof bowl and pour hot tea over. Stir a few times, then cover and leave to stand at room temperature several hours or overnight. When you are ready to assemble batter, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a large loaf pan and line it with baking parchment.

Sift the flour and mixed spice into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour with fingertips, a pastry blender, or two knives until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, then add the fruit with its liquid, and the beaten egg. Stir well until very soft in consistency.

Spoon mixture into the prepared loaf pan and level the surface with a rubber spatula. Bake for about 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from pan and place on rack until completely cool. Slice, butter, eat. (I don't think you needed
me to tell you that.)