Welsh Honey and Camomile Bara Brith- My Own Recipe Featured in The Clandestine Cake Club A Year Of Cake.

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!)

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The dried fruit is soaking in a large bowl with the camomile and honey tea, stirred in with runny local Welsh honey and boiling water. This was left to soak overnight though I took the teabag out after 10 minutes.
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The following day I strained the liquid out of the dried fruit mixture but kept it just in case I needed moisture in the cake mix.

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.

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Here is the mixture about to go into the oven. You can line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with baking parchment or you can buy special loaf tin liners in specialist bakeware shops.

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.

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The finished Bara Brith. all ready and waiting to be boxed up and taken to the Cake Club Launch party so other members could taste it for themselves.

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!

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Not every recipe in the book has an accompanying picture. This can be annoying to some who would like to see how the recipe is meant to turn out but usually it is down to the sheer cost of printing. My Bara Brith recipe did have a picture to go with it. Picture courtesy of Quercus Books.
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Here it is! My very own recipe in print!
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My Bara Brith on display at the launch party along with just some of the other mouthwatering cakes we all got to taste.

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.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Honey and Apple Cake from The Clandestine Cake Club (A Year Of Cake)

  A Year Of Cake is the eagerly awaited second book by Clandestine Cake Club founder Lynn Hill with contributions of lots of delicious recipes from Cake Club members from around the world.  The book was published on 10th September but being as I was lucky to have two recipes included in the book, I got my hands on my very own free copy a few days before.  As with the first Clandestine Cake Club book which is well used and cake splattered, I know that this one will be the same. The book is arranged into recipes to fit suitable special occasions, birthdays and anniversaries throughout the year.  So it was apt that I started to bake a couple of recipes from the September chapter.

I will be writing a couple of posts about my own featured recipes in the next few days. So watch this space!

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I was really excited when my very own copy of A Year Of Cake arrived at my house the other day!
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Lynn Hill very kindly autographed all the recipe contributor’s books for us. This is just a small sample of the beautiful photography featured in the book.

Last Sunday was one of those days where hubby said to me “Don’t bake anything, we don’t need cake in the house!” Though funnily enough when I don’t bake anything he always says “Have you got any cake? It’ll put me on ’til teatime?” I can’t win!  Anyway we had got back off holiday a couple of weeks before and due to the miserable weather and me feeling tired after a long week at work, I succumbed to temptation!

I had some eating apples in my fruit bowl and some gorgeous Welsh runny honey in my baking cupboard.  So it had to be Lynn Hill’s own recipe for Honey and Apple Cake to try out first.

The Honey and Apple cake was included in the September chapter of the book to mark the Jewish New Year or Rosh Hashanah which falls in September and is the start of the 10 day celebration for Jews.  Sweet foods are popular at Rosh Hashanah, especially honey.  This can be with apples dipped in honey or in the form of a honey cake.  Lynn’s cake is moist but also has an aromatic flavour from cinnamon and mixed spice as well as from fresh coffee in the mix.

I was keen to try out this recipe as I tried out a similar Jewish honey cake recipe a few months back.  My recipe was a disaster.  I had planned to bake it, along with some Challah to take into a school where I was teaching on supply and we were learning about Judaism.  Unfortunately both the Challah (which didn’t rise and came out like a heavy doorstop) and the honey cake (which fell apart when it came out of the tin) ended up staying at home.  I was too embarrassed to take them to work!

Fortunately, I needn’t have worried with Lynn’s recipe.  Here’s how I baked it:

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In a large mixing bowl I sifted self raising flour, cinnamon, mixed spice, baking powder and salt together.
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In another bowl I beat eggs and both dark brown and light brown sugar together.
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In a third bowl I measured out oil, runny honey and some freshly brewed warm and very strong black coffee.
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To another bowl I added grated apple, flaked almonds and some raisins.
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Finally I carefully folded the flour mixture into the wet mixture and then added in the fruit and nuts to create this batter. It was very runny.
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Lynn’s recipe calls for the cake to be baked in a 23cm springform cake tin. I wondered if it would work in a bundt pan. I thought I’d try it out as my springform tin is too small. I would watch the cake carefully as it cooked though.
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Lynn’s cake needs to be baked for 40-45 minutes but being as mine was in a bundt pan I had to keep it in about 10 minutes longer. I was a bit worried as it was beginning to burn round the edge but it was fine. Now all I had to to was to give it time to cool down and then hope and pray it came out of the tin in one piece!
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I decided to go off for a run and to do a couple of jobs so I wasn’t tempted to take the cake out of it’s pan too early. Luckily it slid out really easily apart from in one place round the middle of the pan. It began to come apart but I managed to save it before it slid on the floor!
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I’m sorry to say I’m such a greedy pig that I couldn’t wait til pudding to eat it. We were having roast chicken at tea time and the Honey cake was meant to be the pudding. Did that stop me nicking a big slice? No way!

The honey cake was delicious, just as i imagined it. Moist and sweet with juicy plump raisins. It was perfect with a dollop of creme fraiche on the side.  My family were too full up after the roast dinner to eat any though, including me who had eaten my fair share before.  So it got cut up into sections and is now in the freezer! Now I have baked this recipe successfully I will have a go at baking it with a class when we learn about Judaism although I will omit the almonds and use de-caff coffee!

if you love the sound of this recipe and lots more like it, then A Year Of Cake is available through Amazon and through lots of other book retailers.

Happy Baking

Love Sam xx

Scandelicious Baking- An Update on the August Cooking The Books Challenge.

It’s been a few weeks since I updated my blog. There’s been so much going on.  Once the school holidays are over I’m back into work mode and there is barely time to get the jobs around the house done.  Then again, I haven’t managed to get anywhere near my computer.  So I thought I’d better get something writen down.

My August Cooking The Books recipe book challenge from Scandelicious Baking seems like a lifetime ago now.  Although I found it enjoyable and I had plenty of time, I didn’t get round to baking two of the recipes I’d originally planned to bake. These were a Pistachio Pavlova with Boozy Cherries and a Norwegian AlmondTart.  I don’t know what happened at the end of the holidays, guess I just ran out of time.

So, to recap I think I would like to look at what I did get round to making.  On the whole I have really enjoyed testing out some delicious recipes. Different flavours and things I wouldn’t have thought to try.

I love making fish pie for my family so I thought the Scandelicious Fish Gratin would go down well with my family.  Instead of being topped with pastry, mashed potato or breadcrumbs this version of a fish pie was topped with some crushed Swedish Krisprolls.  Well I didn’t crush them enough so the topping looked very rustic and unappealing.  Also my son (who used to love my fish pie) refused to eat it.

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The Scandelicious Fish Gratin had a topping of crushed Krisprolls.

To make the Fish Gratin filling I poached some cod cut into large chunks in some milk infused with peppercorns and nutmeg.  After this I made a sauce which had leeks, onion, eggs and creme fraiche in to add to the fish.  This was then poured into a baking dish ready to be topped with the crushed krisprolls!

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The fish gratin filling.
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The finished fish gratin. Looked a bit unappealing and appealed even less to myself and my family. Not a big success at all.

After eating some savoury cheesecake from a buffet once I was keen to have a go at baking one myself. So I had a go at the Scandelicious Cheese and Onion Cheesecake.  The cheesecake contained an oatcake and porridge oat base which had been combined with melted butter.  To make the filling I whisked egg yolks with a pinch of salt, then added some Quark and some cream cheese along with some flour, chopped spring onions and some cheese.  Now in the recipe Signe Johansen suggests Vasterbotten cheese which I have never even heard of, let alone seen it in my local shops.  In the end I used Jarlsberg cheese and grated it straight into the mixture.  In another bowl I beat some egg whites which were then combined with the cheese mixture.  When this was ready it went straight on top of the base and was baked in the oven for about half an hour.

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The finished Cheese and Onion Cheesecake.
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Delicious with a salad.
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I had a slice on its own for lunch the following day.

I’m not very good at baking bread or using yeast but I wanted to have a go at the Spelt Picnic Buns.  I’m not that used to using spelt flour either but I like eating spelt bread.  These buns were meant to be useful for eating on a picnic but we never got to go on one as it was too cold or wet during the last couple of weeks of the school summer holidays.  I baked the buns in my muffin tin but they were not what I was expecting at all. I was expecting them to turn out a lot a bigger than they were.  They tasted delicious though and I had one spread with butter at breakfast.

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Scandelicious Spelt Picnic Buns.

So here ends the Cooking The Books Challenge for August and I had more challenges for days in the month than I had time for.  There are lots more recipes I would love to bake from Scandelicious Baking.  I can definitely recommend the book.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Honeycomb Bundt Cake

I completely fell in love with some honeycomb shaped cake I ate while on holiday in Wales last year.  We were staying in New Quay and enjoyed a visit to the honey farm just up the road.  We had been there before on a previous holiday and went back to stock up on honey and enjoy some lunch in the peaceful and tranquil surroundings of the honey farm.  In the cafe there are lots of delicious honey themed bakes to try including their delicious Honey Bara Brith and flapjacks.  But this last year I was intrigued by some honey cake which was actually honey comb shaped.  When I asked the lady in the cafe how she had made the pattern she explained it was a special tin to create the effect.  I just HAD to search for one myself!

In the end I found exactly what I was looking for on Amazon, it was one of Nordicware’s high quality bundt pans.  At £35 the pans are not cheap for those who live in the UK but I know it will last a lifetime and I will use it a lot.

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The beautiful honeycomb shaped bundt pan with the pretty bee design on the top.

On the last week of term I ended up baking about four different cakes for two different occasions in the school where I work.  On one morning we had a special Awards Assembly, the following day we had our Year 6 Leavers’ Mass both followed by inviting our parents back to have tea and coffee.  I brought out two bakes each day and I was so pleased with all the lovely comments about the honeycomb cake.

As with a lot of my bakes with bundts I search through Dollybakes’ website for inspiration and ideas and as I needed a honey cake recipe I went straight back to Rachel McGrath’s blog! This time I noticed Rachel had made a Honey and Ginger Bundt cake which she had baked in a fir tree wreath pan as it was in the winter.  I chose to use the recipe and leave out the ginger, just keeping the honey.  I would have loved to have used some of the Welsh honey I had bought from New Quay honey farm but it had been used up long ago.  Instead I used some acacia honey I’d bought in Booths a couple of weeks back.  I also used some Greek yoghurt which was flavoured with honey, which kept the cake moist.

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Love the honeycomb and bee pattern on the cake. It also made a very deep cake, large pieces all round for everyone!
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View from the top!
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Cut up into pieces, shame I managed to forget my cake stand!

I’m already thinking of other ways I can use this pretty tin!

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx