A Welsh connection

The tardy blogger returns!

Family reunions can go one of two ways. Happily the recent gathering of my husband’s whanau was fun, interesting and enriching. It’s all about people and I was lucky to meet too many gorgeous folk to count.

20161023_180903I’m not even going to start on the food – other to say that we were well looked after, with – amongst other things – a delicious hangi and one of my favourite foods, whitebait. I also managed a spot of retail therapy – what are the odds that a small rural town (population >450) had a fabulous clothes/dress shop? Let’s just say the owners would have been happy that the sis’-in-law and me popped on by.

Now that we are post reunion, I have new Facebook friends and, excitingly, new real life friends. Which is how today’s recipe came about. Cousin Catherine popped in for afternoon tea. Her husband David is Welsh so, of course, I pulled down my (chef crush) Bryn Williams’ cook book to look through with him. Before I knew it, I found myself making us each a loaf of traditional Bara Brith (speckled bread). Like most bread, I’m now addicted to it.

I’ve also learnt three fun facts along the way: currants are popular in Welsh cooking; bara means bread and Nain means Nana.

Here’s Bryn’s Nain’s bara, with a few small Marija tweaks.

What you’ll need

15g fresh yeast (or 6-7g instant dry yeast)

225ml tepid water

450g strong flour

½ tsp salt

60g lard (I use butter)

60g brown sugar

175g currants

30g mixed peel (I also added 1 tsp each of finely zested lemon and grapefruit peel)

What to do

Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

20161113_185711Dissolve the yeast, together with one teaspoon of the sugar, in the water. Set aside for 5-10 minutes to let the yeast begin to activate.

20161113_185734Mix the flour and fat together – rubbing with your fingertips so that the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (like scone making). I do this in Kenny with the K-attachment.

20161030_165408Add in the brown sugar, currants and peel/zest. I then pop the dough hook on Kenny and give it a quick mix (which can also be done by hand).

Pour in the yeast/water mixture. Let Kenny loose with the dough hook until the mixture comes together – then continue kneading for a couple of minutes. If doing by hand, knead well for five-seven minutes.

20161113_190652With your hands, roll the dough into a loaf shape and pop into the prepared tin. Cover the loaf lightly with cling film and a tea towel.

20161113_203258Leave in a warm place until doubled in size (this one is a tad over proved – I got busy writing this post and forgot to put it in the oven). If it’s chilly, I sometimes turn the oven on for a few minutes, then turn it off and pop the loaf inside to prove.

Heat the oven to 180°C fanbake.

20161113_210901Bake the loaf for around 25 minutes, until golden -, you may need to cook it longer, depending on your oven, so keep an eye on it. Turn loaf out onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely before cutting it (if you can wait that long).

20161113_212234Serve with hunks of butter. I didn’t listen to my advice here and sliced it hot. Am currently in a carb stupor.

If there is anything left in a few days’ time, it toasts well. Sold it to the six year old as raisin toast.

Right now, I’m looking forward to the next relative popping in – who knows what we’ll uncover in another cook book.

Bara Brith - the undergroundbaker

  • Servings: one loaf
  • Print

Ingredients

15g fresh yeast (or 6-7g instant dry yeast)

225ml tepid water

450g strong flour

½ tsp salt

60g lard (I use butter)

60g brown sugar

175g currants

30g mixed peel (I also added 1 tsp each of finely zested lemon and grapefruit peel)

Method

Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

Dissolve the yeast, together with one teaspoon of the sugar, in the water. Set aside for 5-10 minutes to let the yeast begin to activate.

Mix the flour and fat together – rubbing with your fingertips so that the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (like scone making). I do this in Kenny with the K-attachment.

Add in the brown sugar, currants and peel/zest. I then pop the dough hook on Kenny and give it a quick mix (which can also be done by hand).

Pour in the yeast/water mixture. Continue with the dough hook on Kenny until the mixture comes together – then continue kneading for a couple of minutes. If doing by hand, knead well for five-seven minutes.

With your hands, roll the dough into a loaf shape and pop into the prepared tin. Cover with cling film lightly and a tea towel. Leave in a warm place until doubled in size. If it’s chilly, I sometimes turn the oven on for a few minutes, then turn it off and pop the loaf inside to prove.

Heat the oven to 180°C fanbake.

Bake the loaf for around 25 minutes, until golden (it may be longer, depending on your oven). Turn loaf out onto a cooling rack and let cool before cutting.

Serve with hunks of butter.

 

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