Last year myself and the other Clandestine Cake Club members were invited to submit recipes to be included in a brand new cookbook due to be published in September 2015. It was to be called “A Year Of Cake” and members were asked to contribute recipes which celebrated both festivals and famous people’s birthdays from all over the world. I had joined the Clandestine Cake Club just after all the recipes had been submitted and shortlisted for the hugely popular first book The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook which came out in February 2013. It is one of my ambitions to write a recipe book so I was tempted to have a go but wasn’t sure if it was what they were looking for. I was a bit nervous about sending in my own recipes but I chose three that I had tried out and worked well enough for me. Lynn Hill, founder of the Clandestine Cake Club was to have some recipes in the book herself and the rest of the book would be made up of members’ own recipes.
A few months later I was absolutely thrilled when Lynn emailed and told me that I was to have not one but two out of the three recipes included in the book! All the recipes are scrupulously tested out so I’m glad the testing team thought they would work ok! I was so excited when the email came through on my phone I shot through to where my hubby was sat watching telly in the lounge and upstairs to tell my two teenage children. They couldn’t see why I was so excited though, which dampened it down a bit.
We had to keep the nature of our recipes secret until the book was published but as soon as we got our copies of the books my cakey friends and I were looking excitedly at each other’s recipes and wondering what we’d bake first out of the book.
The first recipe I submitted was my Welsh Honey and Camomile Bara Brith.
This is the recipe introduction in the A Year Of Cake book: Bara Brith means speckled bread in Welsh and is a delicately spiced fruity tea bread. It is sometimes made with yeast to make it more like a bread but this version is firmly anchored in the cake category with the use of self-raising flour which keeps it wonderfully sticky and moist. As a tea bread, soaking the fruit in a brew is obligatory and Sam has chosen to steep hers in a camomile and honey tea giving it a unique aromatic flavour. It’s an easy recipe to bake with children and the perfect cake to celebrate the feast of St David, the patron saint of Wales who died on this day in 569AD. Mwynhewch eich bara brith! (Enjoy your bara brith!)
The inspiration for this recipe came from lots of happy memories of childhood holidays, my time at uni in Bangor in the early 1990s and more recently holidaying in Ceredigion where my husband lived as a child. On one holiday we visited NewQuay Honey Farm and ate delicious honey bara brith made with the honey from the farm. I always stock up on the honey to take back home with me so I was really keen to replicate the recipe myself at home.
The idea is with a bara brith or other fruit bread is that you soak the fruit in the liquid the night before so that the fruit absorbs the flavours. I wanted to choose a tea which complimented the honey flavour in the bara brith and inspiration came to me when looking in my cupboard. I often drink camomile tea to relax me at night and found some Twinings Camomile and Honey teabags. So i tried it out with my recipe in place of the usual builder’s tea. The result tasted gorgeous.
After you have soaked the fruit overnight (and again I am not one of those who sticks to a certain type of dried fruit in my bara brith, I just go with what’s left in my cupboard!)
After straining the liquid I added beaten egg to the dried fruit and then afterwards added the remaining ingredients. These were soft light brown sugar, a grated zest of a lemon, some self raising flour and some ground mixed spice.
The loaf is baked in the oven for about 1 1/2 hours but if it looks like it is going brown well before the end of cooking time then you need to cover the top of it with a bit of foil.
I hope lots of people will try to bake the Bara Brith for themselves as it is such a delicious tea loaf. It freezes well too! I baked it again as I was invited to a book launch party last weekend and took along both bakes from the book. It was also easy to carry in a tin- no cake wrecks here with it being a loaf cake and easy to transport! It’s also a fab recipe to bake with kids, as a teacher in my “day” job I have baked this with children and they adored it.
The excitement about A Year Of Cake being published was amazing amongst our community of cake clubbers and we couldn’t wait for our own special copies of the book to arrive just prior to the official publication date. On Saturday 5th September my own copy arrived and I was so emotional at seeing my own name in print. Though sharing the same name as a famous singer who also happens to be singing the new James Bond theme means I do see my name a lot now, but this was to do with me and not Sam Smith the singer!
Please note I have not given out my recipe on the blog- you will have to buy the book to be able to see the full recipe. Not my rules, I’m afraid.
Love Sam xx