3 min read

cake in the house

cake in the house
i can feel you judging me for the amount of butter i use… 😄

if i could only ever eat three cakes for the rest of my life, they'd be:

  1. my mother's fruitcake. with not a single glacé cherry and zero vile green maraschino cherries (seriously not the colour or flavour they're meant to be), this cake is so moist and delicious that i asked for it as our wedding cake
  2. hummingbird cake. there's too many ingredients in this cake for it to be something i'd bake at home, but i'm happy to order a slice whenever i come across it. i first discovered this being served in a cafe here on the island. also made locally, by the little tart bakery, this one is a once-a-year birthday treat kinda thing. one where i have to plan ahead and make sure there's more than just the two of us to eat it, because i'd probably attempt to devour it alone and that would not have any kind of happy ending.
  3. bara brith. this seriously sticky, fruit-laden cake... born in the land of wales, this is the cake i turn to when i want something cake-y. not born with a sweet tooth, this cake isn't over-the-top sweet and gives me an excuse to eat something (other than toast, or corn-on-the cob) covered in butter.

and it's this third cake i want to tell you more about. because it's so easy to make that it really doesn't feel like you're making any effort. but the end result is a glorious loaf that is impossible to resist cutting into as soon as it emerges from the oven (even though better and more gooey after a couple of days rest).

soak your favourite dried fruit and peel in strong black tea overnight, mix in some flour, sugar, spice and egg and it's in the oven in under 10 minutes. it's such a forgiving recipe that it's easy to substitute regular self-raising flour for a gluten-free one and swap out the eggs for a vegan alternative.

the recipe i use comes from one of my favourite recipe books: a cook's year in a welsh farmhouse by elisabeth luard. the whole book is a delightful, month-by-month, recipe-diary of life and cooking throughout the year. stories and illustrations by the author, accompanied by lovely imagery from talented photographer clare richardson, have me reaching for this book when i am in need of creative inspiration or something delicious to cook.

this bara brith is the perfect antidote to any kind of malaise (specially on a cool, grey winter morning), and is equally content paired with a hot drink, or enjoyed on its own.

jane's bara brith

One of my favourite recipes in the book because it's so quintessentially Welsh (and Ceredigion is a Welsh-speaking area) is Jane Edward's way with bara brith...though I must admit that her Welshcakes run it a close second. Bara means bread and brith means speckled. The speckles are raisins and how many you include depends on the household. Some people include ground ginger and others allspice. My neighbour and tutor in all things Welsh, Jane Edwards, had this foolproof recipe from her mother, who had it from her mother, which is good enough for me.

Serves 6-8

500g mixed dried fruit and peel
300ml strong hot tea
125g dark brown muscovado sugar
250g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 egg, forked to blend

Soak the fruit and peel in a roomy bowl in the tea for at least 6 hours - overnight is fine.

Next day, sieve the flour and spices into the soaked fruit (no need to
drain), stir in the sugar, spice and egg. Beat all together till smooth.

Preheat the oven to 300F/150C/gas2.
Line a small loaf-tin with buttered paper and tip in the mixture. Bake in a gentle oven for about 1 1/2 hours, till well-risen, firm and brown. Cool and store for at least 2 days, till rich and gluey - it needs a few days to
develop its characteristic elasticity.

Slice thinly and spread with salty Welsh butter.

Recipe from A Cook's Year

you'll find the original recipe here

✪ if you have a go at making this, i'd love to know what you think of the recipe. and, if you have a favourite cake, i'd love to know what yours is too.

the title of this post was inspired by a regular feature of the same name from uk magazine, the simple things