Blustery days and bara brith

 

 

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Yep, it’s definitely autumn. There’s a nip in the easterly wind and this morning I needed a warm coat for the first time since spring; collar up, hands shoved deep into pockets, purposeful stride. Cassie gets a little frisky when it’s windy. She’s easily spooked by a falling pine cone or a sudden flurry of leaves. Our cats go a bit silly, too. Skittish. They’ll leap at the sight of their tail, zoom past and out through the cat flap and back in again a few seconds later. I feel a little skittishness (is that a word?) is rubbing off on me. I can’t settle. There’s a long list of Stuff To Do and I’m avoiding doing it. A teacher friend once told me that teaching young children on a windy day is like herding grasshoppers – they’re excitable, unpredictable. I like that. The thought that humans are deeply connected to forces of nature appeals to me. That’s one of the reasons I love living here; that feeling of connectedness with nature that you don’t get in the city. Here you see the weather coming; you experience it.*

My children’s appetites seem to have stepped up a gear. You wouldn’t believe the amount of milk we’re getting through. I buy four x four-pinters at a time and within a few days we’re running out. In an effort to keep them well-fed, I’ve been baking a lot of cakes for after-school tea. Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book is my most-used recipe book for straightforward, reliably delicious cakes. She’s gone up even more in my estimation since Great British Bake Off-gate. That woman has integrity.

Anyway…  In the cake tin this week we have Gingerbread Traybake (the quantities of syrup, treacle and sugar would make you shudder but, boy, it’s scrumptious) and the ‘award-winning’ (!) Bara Brith. Far be it from me to mess with Mary’s recipes but I use less sugar than the recipe states. And I use a mix of dark muscovado and light. It is the easiest cake to bake, you just need to remember to soak your fruit the night before. Makes 1 x 2lb (900g) loaf.

175g currants
175g sultanas
175g muscovado sugar (I use a mix of dark and light. Mary’s recipe calls for 225g light)
300ml strong hot tea
275g self-raising flour
1 egg, beaten

Put the dried fruit and sugar into a mixing bowl, pour over the hot tea, cover and leave to soak overnight.
Preheat your oven to 150 degrees C. Grease and line your loaf tin. (I use those brilliant loaf-tin liners you can get here.)
Stir the flour and egg into the soaked fruit/sugar and mix thoroughly. Scrape into your prepared tin, pop it in the oven and bake for one-and-a-half to one-and-three-quarter hours. It should look risen and a little cracked on top and be firm to the touch.
Serve sliced with butter. You can be generous with the butter on top as there’s none in it 🙂

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* I know there is a nasty amount of wind currently rampaging in the Caribbean and south eastern US. I don’t mean to be flippant about it. If you are affected, I do hope you’re ok.

 

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31 thoughts on “Blustery days and bara brith

  1. It’s windy here, too. The sea was very rough here in Torbay – we drove along the sea front on our way to our favourite hotel where we had a snack lunch, just their light bites (nothing on earth will persuade me that it looks remotely intelligent to call them ‘lite’ bites.) I always have mushrooms in a cream and stilton sauce on a toasted brioche with a side order of sweet potato chips which I share with my husband, and he always has beef club sandwiches, which come with a small side salad and potato crisps. Washed down with half of bitter for me and a half of lager & lime for himself. Lovely on an autumn day.
    Once back home we began to prepare our guest room and the bed sitting room (which has a sofa bed) for two guests coming next week. I shall need all of the time between now and then to get the house and garden looking presentable! Plus I need to do some cooking – your Bara Brith seems like a good idea! We’re just half way through a toffee apple cake, which is equally lovely.
    I think preparing for guests might become my next blog post, but I have to prepare for them before I can write about it!
    Margaret P

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  2. Windy weather unsettles me. I can do a day (exhilarating) but any longer and I can’t think straight. I love all your photos but especially the sea ones. And the cake looks yum. It’s astonishing how much food teens can shovel away. Radio 4 this morning was talking about brown fat levels being highest in teens which explains why they don’t get fat. It drops rapidly in your twenties :o(. Congrats on the continued running- when is your first parkrun?? :o) xx

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  3. Great photos,what a place to live! I’m a great fan of Mary Berry’s, her cakes always seem to work even for the non-baker that I most certainly am. Such a shame the BBC lost out on the bids for the GBBO, as you say, heartening to see such integrity among those who’ve fronted it.

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  4. Mmm, butter, love it. I shall make a bara brith to have something to eat it with. I know what you mean about being connected to the weather and the seasons, it’s something I like to feel too. I didn’t like winter at all when I was living in the city, but I absolutely love it now. CJ xx

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  5. It has been windy and colder here too and the dog and cat have also been skittish. The sea has also looked similar too. I haven’t had bara birth for years, thanks for the recipe that sounds easy. Sarah x

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  6. Hello Sam. Oh that cake sounds delicious. It is spring in my part of the world and it is very windy too! Day after day of unsettling, frustrating wind. It makes me skittish too. You photos…wow. At the risk of repeating myself that coast line is just spectacular. x

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  7. I love your photos of the sea almost enought to persuade me that walking a coast path would be fun! In my childhood the cows and horses always seemed to escape on windy days and I can remember chasing after a pony that galloped off for about five miles with the wind under his tail. I find the wind rather unsettling, particularly the days when it howls around the house. Calm and peaceful here today thank goodness.

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  8. It does look windy, the sea is beautiful with all those ripples. I imagine close up these would be quite large! You are putting me to shame, my children never get any cakes after school. I don’t like baking for starters but I guess I am never at home when they get back 😦
    Love butter. Lots of butter preferably. x

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  9. I loved living on our island, waterfront, so aware of the weather every day in a way you just aren’t if you’ve a car — or even a bus — near by. There are compensations to being in the city, but I know I will always miss that awareness of the tides, the wind, the position of the sun on the horizon at a particular time of the year. You’re in a wonderful location for knowing the world that way, and you’re giving your children a great gift in that.

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  10. Lovely coastal scenes. Yes, it was much cooler today, certainly an autumnal nip. We even had a few drops of rain, not much, but it felt quite wet enough when I was on my bike several miles from home.
    I love the look of that cake.

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  11. We’re finally having autumn here, as well, though the trees haven’t quite started to turn yet. Your cake looks like a perfect autumn treat. My efforts so far have been a chocolate zucchini bread and pumpkin/apple butter. This is my favorite season!

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  12. Breathtaking photos Sam. We went to the seaside on Wednesday to make the most of the last sunny day of summer and boy, was it windy. Our swimmers stayed in the back pack and our usual two-hour walk around the head took nearly three hours. Your Bara Brith looks absolutely delicious. I make something very similar using my grandma’s recipe for Fruit Tea Loaf (no butter, hardly any sugar because of wartime rationing) which is written on a scrap of paper in her beautiful handwriting. My household has increased from two to three but the amount of food I buy and cook has more or less doubled. No idea where it all goes! Hope the wind has dropped now, tomorrow is looking fine and sunny.

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    1. Yesterday was lovely and calm here and we spent much of it tackling brambles in the garden when we should probably have been walking and enjoying it. Definitely wise not to swim in the sea last week!

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  13. That recipe is more or less the same as my ancient (well, my Mum made it for years before I got to baking age!) ‘ tea loaf’ recipe but I always assumed bara brith must have some subtle difference…! My most thumbed aka dropping to bits recipe book is Mary’s earlier Fast Cakes which is a paperback – I have recently bought revised copies for my Girls, along with the BeRo book, another staple and probably as well thumbed! You often can’t better basic recipes, despite whar Bake Off contesrants try to do to them!

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      1. Morrisons used to sometimes have them – I think they are updated every couple of years but you can send direct to BeRo for them and they are great value and a great aide memoire for basic cake and pastry recipes

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  14. Oh yes, with you on the milk, also eggs, we get through around 4 dozen a week, my (teenage) boys are constantly starving! I enjoy the changing seasons too, and that feeling of connectedness x

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