Is bara brith a bread? Or is it a cake? Some say bara brith is definitely a bread given that, made the traditional way, it is made with yeast and smeared liberally with salted Welsh butter. But others argue that since it’s packed with fruit and takes pride of place at any Welsh tea table, it’s indisputably a cake. Whatever the case, bara brith is delicious.
In Welsh, bara brith means ‘speckled bread’, the speckles being the raisins, currants and candied peel that go into it. Originally this name was used only in North Wales, with southerners calling it ‘teisen dorth’ (meaning ‘cake loaf’). But the moniker is now adopted throughout the principality.
In times gone by, bara brith would have been the final treat cobbled together at the end of the weekly bake at the village oven. As the embers began to fade, any leftover bread dough was gathered up and married with dried fruit, producing a delicious sweet bread.