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Food. Bara Brith Tea Time Treat from Wales
Teisen Dorth or Bara Brith, Cosy Times at Tea Time
Any one who has spent any time in Wales knows that the weather is doubtful at best. The misty mountains and sea fog can add a sense of gloom by tea time. This is traditionally around four o'clock. In modern times, Tea has been pushed back til nearer five or six when the breadwinners return and the children are back from school. this cosy meal in the early evening has become more substantial and is often substituted for the more formal "Dinner" when lunch becomes the main meal of the day.
Forget the weather and the cares of the Day and draw up a chair for Tea. The table will be groaning with fresh bread , local cheese, Plate tarts with lemon curd or jam, several different cakes and often the fragrant Bara Brith. Bara Brith is a fruity bread made with yeast and dried fruits, spices and candied peel. Its secret ingredient is Tea. This delicacy is known as Teisen Dorth in South Wales. The fruits and peel are set to soak in tea for at least overnight so that they are plump and delicious when baked. Bara Brith, speckled bread, is related to The Irish Tea bread called Brack and is made in a similar fashion.
Here is a recipe for Bara Brith. It is not set in stone as all the ingredients may not have been available, so dried fruit can be a mixture of raisins, sultanas and a few currants. Candied citrus peel is a nice addition if you have some. Home made works better than the kind you buy at Christmas. As children, we diligently saved our orange peels to make this treat. Any kind of tea will be fine and obviously the stronger the more flavor the Bara Brith will have.I have never tried it with Earl Grey Tea but I think that could be a great variation. Here is a recipe.
Pint of tea (strength to taste)
12 oz Dried fruit and candied peel mixture
Ground Cinnamon and Nutmeg.......pinch of Salt
4 tsps dried Yeast........2 oz Brown Sugar.......1 lb White baking flour
1 Egg........3 oz lard (Butter or Margarine may be substituted)......Baking tray or Bread tin.
Place dried fruit mixture in a bowl, pick it over carefully for pips and stems.
Make enough tea at the desired strength to completely cover the fruit. Pour on while hot.
Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator at least overnight as soon as the mixture is cool.
Next day, place the flour, salt in a large mixing bowl, add the lard and rub into the flour.
Mix the yeast with a teaspoon of the sugar and a little warm water and leave aside for ten minutes to let it start.
Beat the egg. Stir the spices into the flour mixture, make a well in the center of the flour and gradually knead until you have a smooth and elastic dough. Use the tea from the fruit to provide liquid as necessary Cover the dough with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise for about an hour when it should double in size.
Knead again and roll until you have a rectangular shape the knead the fruit into the dough bit by bit. Roll to a rectangle again then fold to fit the greased loaf tin. Preheat oven to 375'. Cover with plastic film and leave to rise again above the sides of the tin, about 30 mins. Place tin in the middle of the oven and bake for 30 mins. Cover the top of the loaf with baking paper to prevent burning and bake for another 30 mins. The loaf should sound hollow when tapped. If not bake for a further 5 to 10 minutes until it does.Brush with a little honey if a sticky glaze is desired. Cool on a wire rack.
Slice and spread with salty Welsh butter, brew a nice cup of tea and enjoy!