The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bara Brith

breadsong's picture

Bara Brith

Awhile ago I'd found elra's post on about Bara Brith - I've been wanting to try making this lovely-sounding fruit-and-spice Welsh 'speckled' bread ever since.
I've got Elizabeth David's English Bread and Yeast Cookery on loan from the libary; there's a recipe for Bara Brith in her book too.
This is my variation of Bara Brith, based on elra's and Elizabeth's. 
I was delighted with the light, cakey, tender and flavorful! result:

Both loaves, and a crumb shot (top slice separated upon slicing...couldn't wait until it was completely cool to slice and taste!):


Ingredients (for 2 x 450g loaves)

Weight in grams

Baker's %




Bread flour



Red Fife 75% whole wheat flour






Eggs, whole (= 1 large egg)



Yeast instant, osmotolerant



Sugar, demerara






Unsalted butter, 70F






Raisins, dark



Raisins, golden



Orange peel, candied, diced



Sweet spice blend










(1) Soak currants and raisins overnight in strong, cold tea.

(2) The next day, bring milk, egg, and butter to room temperature. Drain the currants and raisins. Add diced candied orange peel to currants and raisins.

(3) Mix together sweet spices to your liking, to equal 2 grams. I used .7 g freshly grated nutmeg, .7 g allspice, and .2 g each of cinnamon, cloves and ginger.

(4) Whisk milk, egg and salt together to combine, in bowl.

(5) Blend flours, yeast and sugar in a larger, mixing bowl.

(6) Add milk and egg mixture to flour mixture and stir to combine. I used a dough whisk to combine the ingredients.

(7) Kneaded on the counter until the dough windowpaned (improved mix).

(8) Kneaded in the spices, and then the butter in five additions, ensuring each addition of butter was kneaded in before adding the next. I tried to make sure the butter stayed inside the dough, so I wasn't touching/melting the butter with my hands while kneading. The dough became sticky as I was kneading in the butter. I dusted the counter lightly once or twice with flour and used a dough scraper to pick the dough up off the counter, as needed.

(9) Gradually knead in the fruit mixture until fruit is incorporated. I tried to keep the fruit within the dough and not have any pieces sticking out.

(10) Bulk ferment at 80F for two hours, with S&F at one hour.

(11) Shape, preheat oven & stone to 425F, proof for about 45 minutes to one hour at room temperature (70F).

(12) Score, bake with steam, 400 for 10 minutes, 375 for remainder of bake (30 minutes total). After 20 minutes of baking, I rotated the loaves and covered with foil to prevent overbrowning.  Let cool on rack before slicing.

I'm very happy to have discovered this bread!
Happy baking everyone,
from breadsong


Floydm's picture

Very nice!

breadsong's picture

Thank you, Floyd!

Syd's picture

Lovely, breadsong!  I thought the name sounded familiar.  I have a recipe for it in one of my books, too.  Just flipped over it all these years.  Thought the name was interesting but never really looked at the recipe.  Your post has made we want to try it. :)


breadsong's picture

Hello Syd, I was so happy with this bread today and I hope if you make it you're just as pleased!
Thank you so much, from breadsong

SylviaH's picture

What a beauty!  It certainly looks delicious.  I like the idea of soaking the fruit in strong English tea...I have that every morning. 

I've put this one on the 'to do list'!


breadsong's picture

Thank you Sylvia. You'll be able to use some of your own, beautiful candied orange peel!
from breadsong

jemar's picture

As a Welsh woman, living in Wales, I commend you on your Bara Brith.  It looks good, but at first I was surprised to see it labelled as BB as we usually see them baked as a tin loaf in Wales.  Not that it makes much difference to the taste I would think.  They are not usually slashed either, just glazed and well risen.  There is also a version, more often made by the home baker, that is made without yeast using self-raising flour.  I must admit I prefer the version made with yeast and when I do make it, which is not very often I'm embarrassed to admit, I like to add some chopped nuts.  It is a Christmas treat!  It can be bought in most bakers here but not all of them are as good as they should be.

breadsong's picture

Hello jemar,
Thanks for taking the time to write and for your compliments!
I was hoping someone from Wales might let me know if I was on the right track or not with this bread.
There was a link off of elra's post that showed Bara Brith as a pan bread (for this effort, I wanted to practice batard shaping and scoring).
A glaze would have been nice - I have some Lyle's Golden Syrup -  I might try glazing using that, or perhaps honey, next time. Your suggestion for adding nuts sounds good too.
Gyda diolch yn fawr! (Hopefully that's the right translation for 'With many thanks!')
from breadsong


Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

There are many, it seems, not just those sworn to be authentic by bakers in North Wales and those in the South. I agree though that those in Welsh shops, even bakeries, aren't a patch on what we can make at home.
I'm not Welsh but visit frequently - and have travelled round UK for years. We were there two weeks ago for almost two weeks, a daughter has a mountainside farm there.
I make a version of bara brith which we call 'way bread' A couple of slices of this and the appetite is satisfied for hours. No other food is needed while travelling. Very simple, very sustaining.
I soak dried fruit in cold strong Earl Grey tea overnight, specially made because we drink very weak tea. I use plain flour - no leaven of any kind. I use what comes to hand, nuts, seeds, peel and lots of dried fruit, also muscovado sugar which makes the whole thing dark, but no spices.
The bread is not just speckled with fruit, it's solid. And wonderful, as I said, with butter or cheese or just as it is, being moist.
What's better still is that it will keep without drying or growing mouldy.
The original recipe was a version of bara brith ... it sounds and looks like a rich fruit cake but it contains no eggs or butter. It's a type of bread.

breadsong's picture

Hello Mary,
Thanks for writing about your 'way bread', which sounds completely wonderful with the Earl Grey (one of my favorite teas) and loads of fruit.
I may up the fruit content next time based on your example! :^)
Thanks, from breadsong

hanseata's picture

and your breads look much more attractive than the original post, too.


breadsong's picture

Hello Karin, I though elra's crumb shot was really nice; a good distribution of fruit, and her bright orange peel really showed up well (I might not dice my orange peel so finely next time). I did want a lighter-colored loaf & tented with foil partway during the bake. Thanks for your kind words! from breadsong