A traditional tea loaf originating from Wales, Bara Brith is a deliciously moist, sweet fruit cake topped with a sticky tea glaze!
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1st March is Saint David’s Day so as a Welsh girl I felt I should share a Welsh recipe today! Many of you may not have heard of Bara Brith before. Bara Brith is a fruit loaf flavoured with dried mixed fruits, spices and strong tea. It is sweet, moist and delicious, especially a slice smothered in butter!
If you’re interested in trying another Welsh recipe, check out my delicious Welsh Cake Shortbread too!
What does Bara Brith mean?
Bara Brith translates to “speckled bread”. Traditionally in Wales, it was made using yeast as the leavening agent, but this recipe uses baking powder instead. This Welsh tea loaf is very easy to make and great to serve to guests with a cup of tea. It also keeps really well and actually tastes better the day after baking!
Bara Brith Recipe Ingredients
Full ingredient amounts can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post, but in summary you’ll need:
- Plain flour for the main structure of the loaf cake
- Baking powder to help the loaf rise
- Mixed spice adds a lovely flavour to the fruit cake
- Salt to balance the flavours
- Dark brown sugar for sweetness and moisture
- Mixed dried fruit is what makes this delicious “speckled bread”!
- Orange zest adds a little extra flavour to the spiced fruit cake
- Strong tea is what the dried fruit is soaked in overnight, causing them to plump up and become even more delicious
- Egg to bind the ingredients
- Butter for a little added buttery flavour
How to make Welsh Bara Brith Cake
This Bara Brith recipe is so easy to make, you just need to plan ahead the night before by soaking the fruit overnight! Full instructions with step-by-step photos can be found in the recipe card below, but here’s a quick summary:
- The night before baking, add the dried mixed fruit, orange zest and sugar to a medium bowl
- Add two tea bags to a jug and then fill to 280ml with boiled water. Stir and leave to brew for five minutes, then remove the tea bags
- Pour the hot strong tea into the medium bowl and stir to combine all of the ingredients. Cover the bowl with film and leave to soak overnight in the fridge
- The next day, remove the bowl from the fridge, take out 1 tablespoon of the fruit liquid and set it aside in a small bowl for later (to glaze your baked loaf!)
- Preheat your oven to 160°C/140°C fan
- In a large bowl, whisk the plain flour, baking powder, salt and mixed spice
- Add the egg and melted butter to the bowl of fruit, stir to combine and then pour into the large bowl of dry ingredients. Fold all the ingredients together until no pockets of flour remain
- Pour the mixture into a 2lb/1kg loaf pan and level the top with a spoon or spatula. The mixture will be quick thick
- Bake on the lowest shelf of your oven for around 80 minutes
- Once removed from the oven, place on a wire rack and brush the remaining tablespoon of fruit liquid on top of the warm cake!
Top tips for making the best homemade Bara Brith cake
- Leaving the fruit to soak overnight is really important, as this allows the fruit to absorb a lot of the liquid, making them extra plump and tasty!
- I suggest baking this on the lowest shelf of your oven at a relatively low temperature of 160°C/140°C fan. This is to help the loaf cake bake through evenly without burning on the outside. I highly recommend placing a loose ‘tent’ of foil over the loaf cake after around 40 minutes of baking; this helps to prevent the top from burning!
- Bara Brith is known to taste even better the next day – if you can wait that long to slice into it!
- Serve a thick slice of Bara Brith with butter and a nice cup of tea!
Bara Brith FAQs
How do I know when Bara Brith is baked?
Insert a cake skewer or cocktail stick into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s done. If it comes out with some cake mixture on, place it back into the oven for 5 more minutes before checking again. To feel confident about the temperature your cakes bake at, I highly recommend using an oven thermometer!
How should Bara Brith be stored?
Bara Brith is best kept at room temperature in an airtight tin or container. Keeping it in the fridge will cause it to dry out more quickly!
How long will Bara Brith keep for?
Bara Brith keeps quite well; it should be good for around 5-6 days.
Can Bara Brith be frozen?
Yes, this loaf cake freezes well! Simply double wrap in film or place in an airtight container. It should keep well in the freezer for around 4 months.
To conclude, this Bara Brith cake recipe is:
- A deliciously sweet, spiced fruit cake topped with a sticky tea glaze
- Very easy to make with no electric mixers required
- A classic Welsh recipe which is perfect to serve any time of year, especially Saint David’s Day!
- Keeps well at room temperature and freezes well too!
If you try this recipe I’d love to see! You can show me by tagging me @bakerjoblog or using #bakerjoblog!
Other loaf cake recipes to try:
- 2lb/1kg loaf pan
- Large bowl and medium bowl
- Pastry brush (for glaze)
- 400 g mixed dried fruit
- Zest of 1 large orange
- 200 g dark brown sugar you can substitute with another moist sugar such as light brown sugar or light or dark muscovado sugar
- 280 ml strong hot tea two tea bags
- 260 g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder level
- 1 tsp mixed spice level
- 1/4 tsp salt level
- 1 medium egg room temperature
- 30 g unsalted butter melted
Night before baking
- The night before making your Bara Brith, add two tea bags to a jug and fill to 280ml with boiled water. Stir and leave to brew for 5 minutes, then remove the tea bags.
- Add the dried mixed fruit, orange zest and dark brown sugar to a medium bowl, then pour in the hot tea and stir to combine. Cover the bowl with film and place in the fridge to chill overnight.
Day of baking
- Preheat your oven to 160°C/140°C fan
- Remove the bowl from the fridge and take 1 tablespoon of the fruit liquid from the bowl. Place it into a small bowl and set aside for later, as this will be used to glaze your finished Bara Brith!
- Line a 2lb/1kg loaf pan with baking/parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray, and set aside.
- Place the plain flour, baking powder, mixed spice and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
- Add the egg and melted butter to your fruit mixture and stir to combine.
- Pour the whole fruit mixture (including all of the liquid) into the large bowl of dry ingredients and fold together with a spatula or wooden spoon.
- Fold through until just combined with no pockets of flour remaining. The mixture will be quite thick.
- Pour the mixture into your prepared 2lb/1kg loaf pan and level the top with a spatula or wooden spoon. Place the pan on the lowest shelf of your preheated oven and bake for around 80 minutes. After around 40 minutes, place a loose 'tent' of foil over the top of the pan; this helps prevent the top from burning.You'll know when the loaf cake is baked by inserting a cake skewer or cocktail stick into the centre and checking it comes out clean. If it has some cake mixture on it, return to the oven for 5 more minutes before checking again.
- Once baked, place the tin on a wire cooling rack and use your pastry brush to glaze the top of the cake with your remaining tablespoon of fruit liquid. Leave to cool in the pan for around 20 minutes before removing and placing back on the wire rack to cool completely.Bara Brith will keep well for up to 5-6 days when stored at room temperature in an airtight tin or container, or double wrapped in film.