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.

Welsh Cake Batter Fudge

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Fudge is one of those things that I’ve always wanted to try making but, ugh, TOO MUCH EFFORT!  I mean, the traditional way of doing things involves heating up butter and sugar to an exact temperature and using a sugar thermometer and a lot of faffing around, and – like I said – EFFORT.  I felt like for my first time I didn’t want to take on more than I could handle – so I cheated and used condensed milk.  It’s still definitely one of those recipes that needs 100% focus and attention (no scrolling instagram or twitter while you’re stirring!), but it’s much easier and – providing you let the sugar dissolve completely – makes a really creamy fudge.

I usually bake Welshcakes on St David’s Day, but honestly, the ladies at Bakestones in Cardiff Market knock mine right off the board.  They’re so good!  So this year I decided to make this Welshcake Batter Fudge.  It’s not the prettiest looking fudge around (just like Welshcakes aren’t exactly the prettiest cakes), but tastes just like the real deal thanks to the sultanas and a hint of mixed spice. 🙂

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Welsh Cake Batter Fudge

Ingredients

  • one 397g can of condensed milk
  • 150g sultanas
  • 2 tsp of mixed spice
  • 120g butter
  • 450g demerara sugar
  • pinch of sea salt
  1. Pour the condensed milk, mixed spice, butter and sugar into a deep, non-stick saucepan and stir slowly on a low heat until all the ingredients have combined and the sugar has completely dissolved.  If you move too quickly to step two, then you’ll get a grainy fudge.
  2. Get a bowl, fill it with ice cold water and keep it nearby for the next step.  Crank the heat a little and bring the mixture to the boil – stirring constantly and simmering for around ten minutes.  You want the fudge to reach its “soft ball” stage, which is when you’re going to stop boiling it and bring it off the heat.  The time it takes to reach this stage is going to vary, so either test it with a sugar thermometer (you want the fudge to hit 118°C), or get a spoon and drop a little into your bowl of cold water.  If the fudge is ready, it should ball and set, but remain a little squidgy when you squeeze it between your fingertips.
  3. When it’s ready, take the fudge off the heat and pour in the sultanas.  Stir them into the fudge and keep beating until it starts to thicken up and set.  Pour it into a square, lined baking tin and sprinkle with sea salt.  Leave it to cool before cutting it into squares. 🙂

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Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus, pawb! (Happy St David’s Day, everyone!) 💛

 

*Tinker’s Muffins

I’m sneaking in a blog post a day early this week to celebrate St David’s Day! Dydd Gŵyl Dewi hapus pawb!  Here in Wales everyone has their special own way of celebrating the patron saint of Wales on March the 1st.  Kid celebrate in school with a full-on Eisteddfod, some pin a fresh daff to their suit before heading in to work, or pick up a pack of Welsh Cakes on the way home.  I’ve heard that there are even a few pop-up celebrations in London this year, with both Borough Market and Paddington Station serving up Welsh nibbles to commuters (definitely not to be missed if you’re in and around the big smoke today!).

Me?  Surprise, surprise, I like to celebrate with my stomach, and why not? Some of my favourite recipes are Welsh ones because they’re easy to make and taste good, and that’s probably down to the fact that food and drink produced here in Wales is tip top.  So, today I’ve partnered up with Food and Drink Wales to celebrate Welsh Food and Drink by serving up this easy recipe for Tinker’s Muffins as well as a competition to win a hamper full of fantastic Welsh produceIf you fancy seeing what everyone else is cooking today, or want to share a recipe of your own, you can follow along by using the hashtags #ThisIsWales and #GwaldGwald.

Tinker’s Cake or “Dinca Fala”  is an old Welsh recipe for an apple threaded version of the more popular Welsh Cake, and was a favourite of iron workers travelling around the South Wales Valleys.  This version has a little added spice with some stem ginger and a sweet apple cider glaze.  Yum! 🙂

Tinker’s Muffins (Makes 12)

Ingredients

  • 200g self raising flour
  • 1stp baking powder
  • 1stp ground ginger
  • 50g wholemeal spelt flour 
  • 100g demerara sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125 ml milk 
  • 4 tbsp melted butter (I used Dragon Menyn Hallt Cymraeig)
  • 250g cooking apples (grated)
  • 50g chopped stem ginger

For the glaze:

  • 50g melted butter
  • 175g icing sugar
  • 2tbsp welsh cider (I used Taffy Apple Cider)
  • 1tbsp pumpkin seeds
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together your dry ingredients – that’s the flours, ground ginger, baking powder and sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, milk and melted butter before stirring the mixture into the dry ingredients.  Once combined, fold in your grated apple and chopped stem ginger.
  4. Share the batter between twelve muffin cases, then bake for 25 minutes.
  5. Once baked, leave the muffins to cool while you make up the glaze.  Mix together the butter, icing sugar and cider until smooth then drizzle over the muffins.  Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over the top, then serve. 🙂

Competition

Food and Drink Wales are offering up one hamper filled with Welsh Food and Drink goodies, including; Radnor Brecon’s Smoky Campfire Marmalade and Pin Gin Marmalade, Nom Nom Halen Mon Sea Salt Chocolate Bar and their Earl Grey Chocolate Bar, Tregroes Toffee Waffles, Tan Y Castell Welsh Cakes, Welsh Brew Tea Bag Sample Packs, a Welsh apron, as well as some Welsh Gin.

To be in with a chance of winning click here to enter.  Entries close at midnight on Thursday 15th of March and the competition is open to UK residents over 18 only.  I’ll announce the winner on Friday 16th of March.  Good luck!

Now Closed!

Happy St David’s Day everyone! (And happy March 1st!) ♡

*Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea

It’s tough when you live hundreds of miles away from your Mum.  Back when I lived in London I’d rarely get to see my Mum at all let alone on Mother’s Day, unless one of us decided to brave either the trains or the cruel mistress that be the M25 – and if not, then a stuttery facetime call would just have to do.  Nowadays I’m lucky enough to have my Mum less than twenty minutes down the road, and this year – since we have an actual bed in our spare room – Sunny’s Mum could come spend Mother’s Day with us too!  To celebrate our lovely mothers, we all crammed into the kitchen for tea, puppy cuddles and plenty of cake 🙂

Are you sick of the puppy pictures yet?  Duh, of course you’re not – just look at his cute face! 😉

I made chocolate brownies and this massive four layer ombre cake with a raspberry drizzle – which I frosted in my pyjamas at 6am when Bungle woke me up (Which was actually 5am until I realised that the bloody clocks had gone forward.  Will I ever get my Sunday lie-in again???).


I was also kindly sent a few of these Lurvill’s Delight drinks to try – a long lost Welsh soda that’s been recently resurrected and is back on the shelves in and around Cardiff.  It was originally created back in 1896 in the Rhondda valley by a couple of brothers who used the profits they made from the drink to pay for 150 coal miners and their families to sail across the pond and start a new life in America.  But in 1910 there was a dock leaf shortage, and since it was one of the drink’s main ingredients, production sadly came to sudden halt.  If you’re a fan of summery, botanical drinks like elderflower then you’ll love it – it’s not too fizzy, not too sweet (the  main ingredients are rhubarb, dock leaf and juniper berry) and I can imagine plonking a pitcher of the stuff on the barbecue dinner table with some chopped apples floating around in it 🙂



How did you spend Mother’s Day this year? 🙂