Sue’s Bara Brith Cake – how it all started

It is all about taking part

I entered my first show six years ago. I was living is Wales at the time and decided to go for the traditional Welsh fruit loaf Bara Brith, as it looked quite easy. It is a very popular loaf, traditionally made with yeast, and eaten with lots of butter (don’t think too much about the calories!) and I had never made it before. Neither had I attended the local show before so didn’t really know what to expect, and when I entered the tent with my cake I was a bit worried. There were about 10 other entries in that class already set out, and the stewards were casting a critical eye over the baking. I exited quickly. It seemed a bit of a cheek to be entering a Welsh Show with a Welsh cake and me being English.

I returned at the allotted time to collect my cake, along with highly competitive, seasoned show participants. To my amazement I saw the red First Prize card tucked under my Bara Brith. I couldn’t believe it. Of course, all judging is anonymous and no one knew I wasn’t Welsh and I couldn’t help but smile that I had beaten all the other entries. It will remain in my memory for a long time.

So, a message to anyone who has never entered a show before, have a go! It is great fun. You never know, you could be placed and if you aren’t then you will have added to the enjoyment of the local show and supported the community.

Here is the recipe for my winning yeast free Bara Brith. Give it a go. It is delicious. This is one of the recipes we are considering as an entry for the 2020 show.

Sue’s Bara Brith


300g mixed dried fruit (you could add glace cherries to make it extra special)

350ml boiling water

6 tea bags (I like a really strong brew for this recipe)

150g muscovado sugar

1 medium egg

½ teaspoon mixed spice

1 tps ground cinnamon


Place the tea bags into a jug or teapot. Leave to brew for 5 minutes. You might like to give the tea a stir.

Place the dried fruit in a mixing bowl, pour over the tea and throw away the tea bags. Leave overnight.

In the morning, add the sugar to the mixture and stir until dissolved. Next beat the egg and add with the flour and finally the mixed spice and ground cinnamon. Mix until the mixture resembles a thick cake like batter.

Grease a loaf tin and pour in the cake mixture. Alternatively, you can use a readymade loaf tin greaseproof paper liner. It should come up no higher than halfway, as the cake will rise in the oven.

Place on the middle shelf of a preheated oven at 150 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. It may take less, time depending on your oven. I suggest you test the cake after an hour to see if it is cooked by sticking a skewer into the centre. It smells wonderful!

Once ready, remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes or so until the cake comes away from the sides of the tin. Place on a cooling tray.

When the cake is cold, slice and butter. If the cake is warm it may crumble.

It will last a week if wrapped in foil or in an airtight tin.