Allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite quick breads: Bara Brith.
Bara Brith is a traditional Welsh bread loaded with dried fruit that has been soaked in tea. The name literally translates to “speckled bread,” because every slice is polka-dotted with the dried fruit.
Much like chocolate chip cookies here in the U.S., recipes for bara brith vary tremendously, but the constants are always tea-soaked dried fruit and a mixture of spices. I’ve been meaning to begin making and freezing some quick breads for the school year (so handy for quick snacks, lunches and breakfasts), so I decided to add my own bara brith spin to the bounty of existing recipes.
Almond flour quickly became the natural choice for experimentation, largely because (a) I have several bags in the freezer; (b) I am trying to become better at using what I already have, (c) I love the texture of almond flour baked goods, (d) almonds are such a great combination of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and great flavor to boot.
I used a combination of dried fruit from the pantry: more or less equal amounts of raisins, dates, apricots and cranberries. Use whatever combination you like, but aim for a combination of at least two fruits.
Some bara brith breads are LOADED with spices, some have a mere hint. I am partial to the middle ground. You can use a pre-made spice blend such as pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice, but I created my own blend using cinnamon, ginger, cardamom (my obsession), and nutmeg.
Orange zest is optional, but I like it. I found that chopping it up or using grated zest overpowered; as an alternative, my version calls for soaking the zest with the tea and fruit; the boiling water releases the oils and infuses the fruit with a subtle orange essence.
I kept the bread subtly sweet; it’s a bread after all, not a cake. Honey is a traditional Welsh sweetener, so I carried on the tradition here.
Mixing up almond flour quick bread batters is a snap. Whisk the dry, add and mix in the wet ingredients and you’re done. No need to worry about over-mixing since there’s no gluten to develop.
I am thrilled to pieces with the results of this bread! It is moist, fragrant and even a small slice is imminently satisfying.
It keeps well in the refrigerator and freezes beautifully, too. I can attest that a cup of tea is the perfect accompaniment and makes for a tremendous power snack or light meal any time of the day.
- 2 cups boiling water
- 3 black tea bags (strong black tea)
- Peeled zest of 1 small orange
- 1-1/2 cups mixed chopped dried fruit (e.g., apricots, raisins, cherries, dates)
- 2 cups blanched almond flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup honey
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- In a large bowl combine boiling water, tea bags and orange zest. Let brew for 5 minutes.Remove tea bags and zest. Add the dried fruit and let sit for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight. Drain, discarding tea.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x5-inch baking pan with parchment, letting paper overhang on sides.Lightly grease or spray (with nonstick cooking spray) the paper.
- In a large bowl whisk together almond flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and nutmeg. Add the eggs, honey and melted butter, stirring until well-blended. Stir in the fruit.
- Spread batter into prepared pan.
- Bake in preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely in the pan. Use paper overhang to remove bread from pan. Cut into 16 slices.