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Photo Article from the Welsh Hovel: Joshua and I produce Bara Brith

Tom Winnifrith
Monday 19 February 2024

For St. David’s Day, the Pest, aka my son Joshua, has a choice of three Welsh tasks for a school contest. No sheep jokes, he is only seven. And fear not, any English person owning a second home in the village won’t be “coming home to a real fire” though Joshua is a fierce nationalist.  That reminds me, it is Ireland vs Wales on Saturday which we will be watching with an Irish family though the Mrs says she will join the kids in rooting for Wales. Traitor.  Back to the contest: the task we have chosen is making Bara Brith, a Welsh sort of fruit cake.

The normal fruit cake we all make is on the anniversary of my father’s death: what we term grandpa cake, an Irish recipe from the amazing Darina Allen. That is to say it is one where the dried fruit sit in a pint of Guinness overnight before you add in the flour, sugar and eggs.  In the case of Bara Brith the dried fruit and brown sugar spent the night in black tea, as you can see in photo one. The next day, Joshua and i added flour, one egg and mixed spice, before baking for ninety minutes in the slower Aga oven.

The result was pretty darn good. I allowed myself one slice, so breaking the strict diabetes fighting diet that i have endured since early January. I felt that my first gardening of the year (finishing work on a third compost pit, planting two apple trees and pruning thirty other trees) had got me into a decent sweat and so justified this small breakout. The diabetic nurse agrees that an hour a day in the garden will, going forward, be a very good thing. Aready the rhubarb is starting to show bright red stalks and there is a lot of catch up work to be done all over the shop before I even start to think about planting vegetables.

The Mrs thinks that there is a bit too much dried fruit in our Bara Brith but as someone who once voted UKIP I think I am the expert on fruitcakes: they should have a lot of fruit in them. To keep me away from temptation, the rest of the cake are now out with my mother-in-law and pal Chris for their assessment but I think that the Pest and I have nailed it already and are, after the trial run, are ready to bake our competition entry when the time comes.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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