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Speckled bread

The last two weeks have whizzed by in a blur of cold wet weather, school holidays and peeps laid low with a nasty chest cold.  That said, highlights of the past fortnight include dinner with Kylie Kwong, two days styling a photo shoot for Feast magazine, and my kitchen featured on one of my favourite blogs Bleubird Vintage. All good!

This enforced time indoors was meant there's been a lot of cooking on the still to be named cooker.  Some results triumphant, and a couple of less than successful efforts.  The later a result of spending too long at the local pub with a friend for some much needed mama time out - oops!

Funny enough, this weather has seen an awful lot of Welsh cookery appearing on the menu. Mainly because these recipes are so fast and easy...they must be a busy lot those Welsh folk.  Think Welsh rarebit, because I'm always running late for dinner and it sounds much posher than grilled cheese on toast. Welsh cakes because they're quick and cooked in a frypan on the stove, rather than having to wait for the oven to heat up. And my favourite, bara brith, meaning speckled bread in Welsh.   This has to be the easiest cakie/bread type recipe you can make.

I use a recipe from Matthew Evans' book The Real Food Companion.   Not only is it a doddle to make, but Matthew's inspired addition of marmalade gives the bread a bitter edge that I find irresistible.  Matthew is happy for me to share his recipe.

Bara Brith

500g mixed dried fruit such as sultanas, golden raisins and currants
100g sugar
300ml hot black tea, strained
500g self raising flour, sifted
2 tablespoons marmalade
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1 egg, beaten
1-2 tablespoons honey, warmed to glaze

Mix the dried fruit and sugar together in a bowl and pour the still hot tea over the fruit. Stand until the fruit is swolllen. Leave overnight if you can ( I'm never that organised!) or warm it in a saucepan to help speed up the process. There should be still be some liquid when you go to make the bread.

Preheat the oven to 170C.  Grease a 20 x 12 x 11 cm loaf tin and line the base and sides with baking paper.

Put the tea soaked fruit in a big bowl, stir in the flour, marmalade and mixed spice and then the egg until well combined (I sometimes add a little milk here if it's too dry or stiff).  Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, pressing to avoid air bubbles and to even out the top.  Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Brush the top with the warmed honey just as it comes from the oven.

Allow the loaf to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Bara brith keeps well, stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Cut into slices, spread thickly with soft butter and served with tea, bara brith hits the spot after an afternoon spent in the cold wet garden. Which is where you can usually find this mama pottering until it's too late for anything but grilled cheese on toast for dinner. Again.


  1. Oh yum Michelle...this looks like perfect cold weather food, The Real Food Companion is one of my all time favourite books, a constant source of inspiration. I spotted you at Bluebird Vintage, well done! Can you please let us know when your styling will appear in Feast?

  2. Oh this looks so delicious and will be perfect for the wet, cold days ahead.

  3. Looks delicious. I have everything on hand so I will try and make it this week. Though my homemade marmalade is on the sweeter side, so it won't be as bitter.
    Sounds like a very exciting week and I was pleasantly surprised to see your gorgeous kitchen on the Bleubird blog. Thanks for the welsh rarebit reminder. I think we're overdue to eat that again.

  4. Oh yum! That looks and sounds so tasty!

  5. gorgeous michelle.
    our english girl is coming today.
    i daresay there'll be a fair bit of cheesy toast while we get to know her too. xx

  6. Congratulations on being featured on Bleubird, Michelle! How fabulous, and such a great compliment to you and your amazing kitchen space. Lots of love from a fellow Tasmanian! (

  7. Made this this morning, although I used 375g plain flour and 125g whole meal flour, added an extra egg as it was quite dry and some extra milk. I also used my own home made marmalade jam. Absolutely delicious, definitely will make it again and so easy to make. Fantastic bread to take on a picnic as well as camping with a cup of tea. Thank you so much for the recipe. My partner also loves it.

  8. It was a grey old afternoon and I thought about baking the Christmas cake I've been meaning to bake for 6 months. I had a hankering for fruit cake. Then I remembered this speckled bread. We put marmalade in our Christmas cakes as well, almost finished -can't wait to try it.

  9. The Real Food Companion is on my book wish thank you sweet one for sharing this goodness. Hope the little ones have recovered.....we've had a nasty cold here's still hanging around :( x

  10. This looks wonderful! And I love the name. :)

  11. Mmm yum, going to try baking this on the weekend. Thanks for the recipe:) nx

  12. in the oven.... fruit soaked in Arctic Fire and left out the sugar - poppets waiting impatiently. Being a bit Welsh myself I can tell this is going to be just the thing for chilly mornings with a pot of Russian Caravan...x

  13. Yum!
    It's the middle of a grey, wet summer here in Ireland, and traditionally we eat Barm Brack (as it is called here, which also means speckled bread) at Halloween, but I am inspired to make some today to have by the fire later. Thank you!

    I came here from Gourmet Girlfriend, really enjoying reading back through your recent posts. GORGEOUS blog! xxx

  14. We are coming into fall here in the pacific northwest. We haven't had rain in ages but the cold and wet will soon settle in. I am going to make this the first day it rains.

  15. This reminds me of a bread I travel 20 minutes to buy. Its delicious & kept me satisfied when I was spending hours on the lounge breastfeeding earlier in the year.