Bara brith: turning leftovers into cake

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Pancake day (AKA Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras) has got to be the one holiday of the year that’s devoted to avoiding food waste. In keeping with grand tradition, Ryan and I whipped up a batch of pancakes, using the last egg in the fridge and about half of the remaining apple & cinnamon bread flour, and they were delicious. For most people this is probably a token effort (especially as it’s no longer common to avoid rich foods such as eggs, milk and sugar during Lent, with people preferring to give up booze, excessive screen time or being rude to people), but we’re doing very well at avoiding food waste.

A couple of weeks ago, over on my gardening/ ethnobotany blog, I did a special edition of Tendrils (my weekly round-up of interesting plant-related things I find on the internet) on tea. It coincided with an article in the Guardian with a variety of recipes for cooking with tea – something I keep meaning to have a go at. Some of them sound lovely, and I particularly liked the look of the recipe for Bara Brith (fruit loaf).

One of the enticing things about it (beyond containing only ingredients we already had in the house) was that it is made over two days – splitting the effort involved into manageable chunks!


Soaking fruit in hot tea for Bara Brith

Stage 1 involves making a nice cup of tea – so make two, and then you can have one yourself 😉 You mix sugar and dried fruit with the tea, and leave the mixture to stand over night. Our dried fruit mixture was a little eclectic. We had some dried mango leftover from when I made Superfruit flapjacks, which we chopped into smaller pieces. I also had a dried-fruit-based Graze box, so that went in as well. The rest of the weight we made up with golden sultanas, which I bought recently to use in my dad’s red cabbage recipe (remind me share that at some point).

Stage 2 takes place the following day, and in our house involved stirring in a beaten egg and the end of that ancient packet of self-raising flour that had been kicking around in the pantry for far too long. The recipe called for mixed spice, which we don’t have – but I used a mixture of cinnamon and nutmeg instead, and that seemed to work just fine.

When you’re done the mixture is heavy, must be all the dried fruit. But it bakes up nicely, and is done when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and hot.

Bara brith - fruity tea loaf

And here I have to make a confession – I didn’t try it. Fruit cake isn’t my thing at the best of times (although my Graze boxes are bringing me round to being a dried fruit eater) and the week this cake was on the counter I had an upset stomach and wasn’t eating much of anything. Ryan ate the lot, over several days, alternating between having it for dessert in the evening and having it for breakfast in the morning. He liked it enough to request another, and next time hopefully I will at least take a bite!

Do you have a favourite tea loaf recipe, or a cake that ensures leftovers disappear without a trace? Eating cake isn’t normally though of as a virtuous activity, but it is when it deals with food waste!

Categories: food wasteTags: ,

Author: Emma

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