One of the books that I read over the holidays was The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price Purveyor of Superior Funerals by Wendy Jones. (Click through to read my review.) The book is set in 1920's Wales and while there's not a huge amount of food mentioned, there was one dish that instantly caught my eye in the opening pages, when Grace lays out a picnic spread to try to conquer Wilfred's heart. It works ... but their happiness is very short-lived and ultimately leads to a lot of heartache and social disgrace.
p2 "Wilfred, are you listening to me? Would you like the trifle, or there's some bara brith in the house?" "Grace, will you marry me?"
I'd never heard of bara brith, despite spending my student years in Swansea, but google provided a multitude of recipes for inspiration. It means "mottled bread" and it's a lightly spiced tea loaf, traditionally eaten spread with butter, which is as tasty as it is simple to make. A definite winner on both counts.
300g mixed dried fruit
200g light muscovado sugar
250ml hot black tea (or water if you prefer)
350g self-raising flour
2 tsp mixed spice
1 large egg, beaten
50g soft butter, plus extra for greasing and to serve (optional)
Put the dried fruit in a bowl with the sugar and tea. Stir to dissolve and leave to soak overnight.
Put the flour and mixed spice in a separate bowl and mix to combine.
Stir in the dried fruit mixture and the beaten egg.
Add the softened butter (or butter spread) and give it all a good mix until you have a smooth batter.
Pour into a greased loaf tin.
Bake in a preheated oven at 160° for an hour and fifteen minutes, until a skewer or sharp knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Leave to cool for ten minutes then tip out of the tin. Eat cold or warm, slathered with butter - utterly delicious !
Fancy cooking the books?! Join in with the #readcookeat challenge over at Chez Maximka.