10mins + 30 mins
- 350g ‘Simply Natural’ organic dried fruit (mixed)
- 200g strong, hot organic black tea
- 11g dried yeast
- 500g ‘Simply Natural’ organic bread flour
- 2 tsp ‘Simply Natural’ French sea salt
- 2 tsp organic mixed spice
- 50g ‘Simply Natural’ organic brown sugar
- 75g unsalted organic grass-fed butter
- 2 cage-free barn eggs
- Make the strong, black tea and pour it over the dried fruit while still hot.
- Leave to stand for 30 mins while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Strain the fruit and when the tea is 32°C add the yeast and cover.
- Mix together the flour, mixed spice and salt.
- Add butter, sugar and flour mixture to the TX bowl and blend for 30 secs speed 5.
- Turn into a large bowl and add the drained fruit, coating it with the fine breadcrumbs.
- Crack in the 2 eggs and mix carefully, then add in the foaming yeast mixture.
- Mix together, knead for 10 mins, then cover and leave in a warm place for 1hr to rise.
- Knock back the dough, knead then divide and shape into two loaves.
- Leave to rise for another 30 mins in a warm place.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C and then bake the loaves for 40 mins.
- Tip: To serve, add salted butter or a slice of feta cheese and enjoy!
Bara Brith (Welsh), Barm Brack (Irish) or ‘speckled bread’ is one of the traditional dishes in the Celtic lands baked for Samhain (Saahwin) the night of the 31st October/1st November now known as Halloween.
It bears witness to an inclusive culture, one that gladly absorbed treasures from other lands. It is a tea bread, made by steeping the dried fruit in a strong solution of Camellia Sinensis which as the name suggests comes originally from China to Europe in the 17th century. Prior to that the fruit was soaked in alcohol as in present day Christmas cake.
Fruit has been sun-dried in the Mediterranean and Middle East since at least the time of Tutankhamun 3,000 years ago, as 8 baskets of dried fruit were found in his tomb. Date palms grew abundantly in the Fertile Crescent and were likely domesticated 5,000 years ago. In China peaches, apricots and plums were dried around 3,000 BC. Drying fruit helps make a source of nutrient-rich energy and fibre available during the winter months when fresh fruit is scarce.
Maritime nations such as the Phoenicians plied their trade between the British Isles and the Mediterranean as early as 2000 BC, with the name ‘Britain’ derived from the Phoenician name ‘Baratanac’, meaning ‘Land of Tin’ which they traded for in Cornwall.
Spices from India and Indonesia complete the dish, which like the Celtic peoples has now travelled as far as Patagonia, S. America where you may walk into a tearoom and order tea and a slice of Bara Brith!
Credits: Ceri, ZENXIN Master Chef