Monday 4 June 2012

Welsh Tea Cake With Dried Cranberries & Apricots

When we were small children, my mom would take my brother, sister, and I to visit our Great-Granny Haig in Victoria.   I don’t recall a lot about those early visits (although I can clearly picture her kitchen in my mind’s eye), but I do remember that we were always served tea while we were there.  The tea was served to us in proper china cups, well diluted with milk and sweetened with sugar.  It was always accompanied by something to eat; usually crumbly cheese and a Welsh tea cake.

Time passes and things fade from our memory.  My great grandmother passed away when I was in my teens and, by the time I was old enough to want to learn her recipes, my granny (her daughter) had disappeared into the shadow world of Alzheimer’s.  I didn’t know the name of the tea cake and so couldn’t source the recipe elsewhere.  It was lost to me.

Things have a way of circling around though.  A few weeks ago, The Happy Housewife posted a recipe for Bara Brith on her blog, and I recognized it as the tea cake I enjoyed at my great-granny’s house all those years ago.  I filed the recipe away for future reference, and finally got around to trying it this weekend.

Because I can’t try a recipe without changing it around a bit, I decided to make my Bara Brith a link between my past and my present. I adapted the traditional recipe by using fruit grown here in BC in place of the raisins or currants my great granny would have used. 

I chose to make my cake with dried cranberries grown right here on the island and dried apricots from Summerland, in the heart of BC’s Okanagan orchard country.  Both are tart fruits, so the resulting cake is not as sweet as I remember Great Granny’s to be, but it is delicious.

Here, with many thanks to The Happy Housewife for her good instructions, is my recipe:

  • 1-1/2 cups dried cranberries - about 6 ounces by weight.  (I cut mine up into smaller pieces but, of course, that’s optional.)
  • 1-1/4 cups diced dried apricots - about 6 ounces by weight
  • 1 cup of light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 cups of strong tea.  (I used Bigelow’s Constant Comment.) 
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Place the dried fruit and brown sugar in a large bowl and pour the hot tea over it.  Stir the ingredients together until the sugar is dissolved.

Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave the fruit to rest overnight. It will absorb much of the liquid and plump up like this:

Now you’re ready to finish the cake: 

Beat an egg and mix it into the fruit mixture.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Mix the flour mixture into the fruit mixture and pour the batter into an oiled pan. 

(Traditionally, this recipe is baked in a loaf pan but, because my oven can sometimes heat unevenly I made my cake in a bundt pan.  The chimney in the center of the pan helps to distribute the heat more evenly through the batter.)

Bake the cake at 275ºF for 60 to 90 minutes (mine took 75 minutes); until a pick inserted into center comes out clean.  Let it cool completely in the pan before turning it out.

If allowed to cool, it’s less likely to stick to the pan.  Here’s what mine looked like:

Since we had no crumbly cheddar on hand, I served my Bara Brith in thin wedges, with butter.  If baked as a loaf, it’s usually sliced and then each slice cut in half.

Because of the moist fruit, this cake will keep well in a cake tin or under a cloche for several days.  It can also be broken down into smaller portions and wrapped for the freezer. 
This post is linked to Gallery of Favorites, hosted by Premeditated Leftovers and The 21st Century Housewife,  to Foodie Friday hosted by Rattlebridge Farm, to Strut Your Stuff Saturday hosted by Six Sisters' Stuff, to Scrumtious Sunday hosted by Addicted to Recipes, to Sunday Round Up with Heather and Kayla, to Craft-o-Maniac Monday hosted by Craft-o-Maniac, to Busy Monday hosted by A Pinch of Joy, to the Tuesday To Do Party hosted by The Blackberry Vine, to Tip Me Tuesday hosted by Tip Junkie, to Delicious Dish Tuesday hosted by Coping with Frugality, Full Time Mama, and Mama Chocolate, to Whatcha Whipped Up Wednesday at DJ's Sugar Shack, to Cast Party Wednesday hosted by Lady Behind the Curtain, to Sugar and Spice at Seven Thirty Three Blog, to Look What I Made hosted by Creations by Kara, to Wonderful Wednesday hosted by Printabelle, to Wow Me Wednesday hosted by Polkadots on Parade, to Thursday's Treasures at Recipes for my Boys, and to Tastetastic Thursdays hosted by A Little Nosh.

Gallery of Favorites   Addicted to Recipes Button, Page button      Tuesday To Do Party
Tip Junkie handmade projects   Coping With Frugality

    Cast Party Wednesday  

    Creations by Kara

         A Little Nosh


Maria said...

What a wonderful looking tea cake! I love the addition of the tea, I have actually never done that before, but this sounds like a wonderful recipe! Thanks for sharing it!

Aunt B said...

Thanks for stopping by to check out the recipe Maria. I"m glad you like it. :)

Karla Do More said...

This looks delicious. I need to try this. Thanks for sharing. :)

Aunt B said...

I'm glad you like it Karla. Thanks for stopping by to check it out.

Six Sisters said...

We have never tried that before! But wow, we probably should! Thanks for sharing with us on "Strut Your Stuff Saturday!" We'll see you next week! -The Sisters

Aunt B said...

Thank you for hosting. I do hope you try the recipe. It's delicious. :)

Our House Story said...

I love tea cakes! I can't wait to try this!! It's much simpler than I thought too! Thanks so much for sharing!

Aunt B said...

Me too! and, yes, this one is very simple to make. Thank you for stopping by. :)

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for sharing this lovely tea cake with us! It looks delicious! Many thanks for sharing on Thursday's Treasures Week 38. Hope to see you again next week! <3 and hugs!

Aunt B said...

Thank you for hosting. I found some great links there this week.

April J Harris said...

This is such a lovely tea cake! I like all the wonderful dried fruit you have used. This would be absolutely perfect for a proper English (or Welsh!) tea :-)

Aunt B said...

I'm glad you like the recipe April. :) My grandma instilled in me a deep fondness for a "proper tea." I wrote a little bit about our tea times together at

Alea Milham said...

What a lovely tea cake! We enjoy our teas down here as well. Though when my kids were young (and after studying the colonial period) they went through a period where they would turn their cup upside down to politely "refuse" tea. Then I would offer the little rebels chocolate. :)

Aunt B said...

lol Alea! Good to know that they were demonstrating such a clear understanding of their schooling. ;) I'm glad you like the recipe. Enjoy.

Printabelle said...

Thank you for sharing your memories and this lovely recipe! I enjoyed it!

Aunt B said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks so much for hosting. I found some really interesting links at your party this week.

Alesha @ Full Time Mama said...

Fantastic!! I've never had this before, but it sure looks amazing! Thanks for linking up!!!

Aunt B said...

I'm glad you like it. Thank you for hosting. I appreciate the opportunity to share my recipes.

Lois Christensen said...

This looks delicious! Your story reminds me of a cookie recipe that my grandmother made all the time that we loved. Only she didn't have the recipe written down. My mother tried a few times to make it with her to get the recipe, but by then my grandmother had reverted back to only speaking German and it was very hard to understand what my grandmother was saying. She refused to measure, only added things a little at a time. Oh well! Thanks for sharing the link on Walking on Sunshine FB page! Hope you're having a nice weekend.

Aunt B said...

It's interesting how we so often don't realize how important these recipes are until they're lost to us. Hopefully, with so many people sharing their stories and recipes on line now, you'll come across something similar to your Oma's recipe one day too.