Bara Brith Blondies

a fresh, bite-sized twist on a Welsh classic…
Bara Brith Blondies Recipe - Welsh Food and Drink - The Cardiff Cwtch

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus! (Happy Saint David’s Day!) …For yesterday! The Welsh weather was hilariously on form all weekend – one minute sunny, the next minute rain, thunder, hail stones… And so my Saint David’s Day weekend was spent indoors (are we ever going to get a dry weekend?). Most of my Saturday was spent pottering around in the kitchen whipping up a few of my favourite Welsh Bakes to dole out to family and friends, and then on Sunday – I scoffed the lot. Standard. Obviously I made a massive batch of Welshcakes (I mean, it’s criminal not to scoff at least a dozen Welshcakes on Saint David’s Day, I think you’ll agree…), tried my hand at Aberffraw Shortbread, and I also made these Bara Brith Blondies.

Let’s be honest, Welsh Cakes and Bakes are never going to win any beauty contests; they’re pretty much the equivalent of me first thing on Sunday morning when I’m plodding around in my yoga pants and glasses walking the dog – unappetizing, no frills, what you see is pretty much what you get (and is at its finest when paired with a cup of tea). Welsh baking is simple and homely – it’s supposed to taste good, not look good, and usually be made with whatever you’ve got bashing around in your cupboard. And that’s why I love it.

I fancied making some Bara Brith over the weekend, but I wanted to try something a little different to the traditional tea loaf we all know and love (find my recipe for that right here). I wanted something a bit more bitesized – perfect for lunchboxes, for tea breaks, and for warming up in the microwave and serving with ice cream (I also saw someone serving up pancakes topped with little bits of Bara Brith over the weekend on social media – how genius is that!?). And so, I came up with these Bara Brith Blondies. They’re a really easy twist on the traditional recipe, with the same tea-soaked sultanas and mixed spice flavour, a super moist sponge and a honey drizzled crust. Yum! 🙂

Easy Bara Brith Recipe - Welsh Food and Drink - The Cardiff Cwtch

Bara Brith Blondies

Ingredients
  • 250g sultanas
  • 300ml boiling hot water
  • 1 black teabag (I used Earl Grey)
  • 170g melted butter (cooled)
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 100g dark muscovado sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 260g plain flour
  • runny honey to glaze
Bara Brith for kids Recipe - Welsh Food and Drink - The Cardiff Cwtch
Method
  1. Soak your sultanas and teabag in the boiling hot water – leaving them to steep overnight if possible, or for a couple of hours. The sultanas should plump and soak up either all or most of the tea. Discard any leftover water.
  2. Grease and line a deep, rectangular baking tin, and set your oven to 160C.
  3. To make the batter, cream together the melted butter and sugars. Stir in the eggs, mixed spice and vanilla bean paste, and then fold in the flour and tea-soaked sultanas.
  4. Try not to overwork the batter – call it quits when all the ingredients have more or less come together – and then pour it into your baking tin, gently smoothing it into the corners.
  5. Bake for 1 hour, then leave to cool.
  6. Brush the surface with runny honey, and then chop up and scoff with a cuppa. 🙂
Bara Brith Blondies Recipe - Welsh Food and Drink - The Cardiff Cwtch - St David's Day Food

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus, pawb! (Happy Saint David’s Day Everyone!) 💛 You can find a video of this recipe (along with two other easy Welsh Bakes with a Twist) over on my IGTV.

10 Autumn Bakes to try This Weekend

Ten banging bakes to fuel you through a soggy Sunday on the sofa…

Batter up! Because, is there anything better than a Baking Day? Don’t answer that; the truth is that most of the time there are plenty of things I’d rather be doing than holing up in the kitchen spilling flour all over the countertops. Autumn is the exception; as soon as those leaves start falling, it’s all I want to do. It’s probably down to the weather. I mean, we’ve swapped those long summer weekends spent out and about in beer gardens and on beaches, with cold and gloomy ones where staying in and dragging the duvet downstairs onto the sofa becomes the best offer on the table. And those are the weekends I’m living for right now. Marathon lie ins followed by lazy breakfasts (check out some of my favourite brunch recipes here) and a day spent pottering about the house. Slowly crossing things off the “To Do” list in between ticking things off the “To Watch” list and baking something sweet and satisfying to curl up with a cuppa and scoff later. 

I’ve done a bit of digging through the archives and picked out some of my favourite guaranteed cosy cakes, breads and bakes to make a list of 10 Autumn Baking Ideas that are perfect for one of those lazy Autumn weekends spent indoors. This one’s set to be a washout (again, ugh!), and so whether you’re planning on a full on Baking Day or just fancy passing the time with a bit of boredom baking, why not give one of these babies a try? 🙂

Orange and Nutella Babka

I’d never heard of the utter genius that is the Babka until this time last year when they seemed to be all over social media. Stuck somewhere between cake and bread, they’re basically a pillowy, sweet dough that’s rolled with any kind of filling you fancy – from chocolate to the oh so Autumnal apple and cinnamon – and then twisted and knotted before throwing it into the baking tin, giving it it’s trademark swirls.

I’m playing around with another Babka Recipe as we speak, but for now here’s last year’s Nutella and Orange-spiced offering.

Apple Pie Cake

If you want to know what I’m up to this weekend, then here’s your answer. I’ve got a mate coming to stay and my parents popping over for a Sunday roast and so one of these Apple Pie Cakes will be going in the oven tonight. If you’re bored of bog-standard apple pies and crumbles, then this is the bake you’ve been waiting for. Sweet, cinnamon-spiced apple pie mix swirled on top of a beautifully moist buttermilk sponge, it’s quite possibly my favourite cake EVER; it’s easy to make and delicious scoffed with custard, double cream or ice cream (or even by itself!). Save now, thank me later.

Biscoff Buns

I’m a total bun-head; I love iced buns, sticky buns, cinnamon buns… My anaconda don’t want none, unless you got buns hun. Especially cinnamon buns. Phwoar. I’m still working on my recipe for whipping them up at home, but until I stumble on the perfect recipe, here’s a twist with a Biscoff filling. If you’re yet to stock your cupboard with a jar of Biscoff Spread, then you’re missing out, my friend! That delicious little saucer surfer of a biscuit is now in spread form and works beautifully on toast, in porridge, and as the filling for this tear and share tray of sticky Biscoff Buns. Yum!

Feeling Blue-berry Muffins

Sometimes it’s nice to just go back to basics and bake something simple and satisfying, right? Well you can’t go wrong with a tray of Blueberry Muffins fresh out of the oven and bleeding blueberry juice all over the shop. The added crunchy topping to these blueberry muffins give them a little something extra.

Banana Crumble Cake

Bog-standard banana bread gets a glow-up with this recipe for Banana Crumble Cake. Hands down one of my favourite recipes with its moist, banana sponge (without the dense mattress texture you sometimes get with banana bread) and crunchy cinnamon crumble topping. You’ll never want waste speckled bananas on anything else!

Chocolate and Praline Dipped Madeleines

Here’s a recipe to keep in mind for party season, when you need to take a plate of something. Madeleines are so simple to make, but add the Chocolate and Hazelnut Praline topping and you’ve got something that not only tastes delicious but looks like it took you hours to make.

(These Chocolate and Hazelnut Praline Muffins are also a winner if you’re looking for something a bit more substantial…)

Leftover Pumpkin Traybake

How many times have you gutted a pumpkin to carve and thrown out all the good stuff? How many times have I said, “I’ll make it into soup or risotto!” and still ended up throwing it all out? Well, if you fancy actually using up your pumpkin guts for once, then you can’t go wrong with this very easy Pumpkin Traybake. Full of spice and topped with a cream cheese frosting, this bake makes use of every part of the pumpkin that doesn’t get turned into a lantern for Halloween – even making use of the seeds for a crunchy topping. 🙂

Bramble Bars

We’re pretty much nearing the end of blackberry picking season now, but if you’ve still got some stored up in the freezer and don’t fancy popping them in a crumble, why not try these Bramble Bars instead? Part flapjack, part bakewell tart – they’re sandwiched with a layer of sweet, blackberry jam. Yum!

Bara Brith (Welsh Mottled Bread)

It’s never going to win any beauty contests, but there’s nothing better than a slice of hot Bara Brith smothered in butter with a cup of tea. For the uninitiated, it’s a spiced tea loaf filled with dried fruit soaked overnight in tea. Very easy to make, Bara Brith is Wales itself in bread form; traditional, homely and full of tea.

Bakewell Tarts

I couldn’t resist picking up a pack of Cherry Bakewell Tarts from Home Bargains the other day and – oops – I’ve already pretty much polished it off. Hey, they’re small, alright?! These homemade Bakewell Tarts are not small, but are just as moreish – plus the recipe is a snap thanks to a few short cuts. Bake at your own peril! 😉

Happy baking! Let me know what your favourite Autumn bake is in the comments section! 🙂

Bara Brith (Mottled Bread)

I think every Welsh kid makes Bara Brith at some point.  Either with your mamgu yn y gegin, peering over the counter-top on tip toes (…maybe).  Or like me, you got to make a lumpy burnt mess in the school kitchen, but never bothered eating it because ew, dried fruit, and I’d much rather have that packet of nerds thank you very much.

Bara Brith is Wales itself in bread form; traditional, homely and full of tea.  🙂

 

Bara Brith

(This recipe works best with a small loaf tin, for a larger loaf tin simply double-up the ingredients.)

  • 150g mixed dried fruit (raisins, sultanas)
  • 250ml hot water
  • one teabag (I used Glengettie – good Welsh tea, but any old brew will do)
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 85g dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 tbsp marmalade
  • 1 tbsp honey (plus a little more for glazing)
  • 1 egg
  • 250g self-raising flour.
  1. Combine the hot water, teabag and mixed fruit in a bowl and leave to soak overnight.
  2. When you’re ready to bake, set the oven to 160° (fan) and grease the loaf tin.
  3. Add the sugar, honey and marmalade into the bowl with the tea and mixed fruit (don’t forget to take out the teabag!).
  4. Add the egg and then sift in the flour and mixed spice.  Stir until all the ingredients are combined.
  5. Bake for an hour; the cake should have risen, cracked and turned golden brown.
  6. Once cooked, remove from the oven and glaze with honey.
  7. Serve warm with butter. 🙂