Bake-Off ! – Bara Brith and Welsh Whisky

I participated in a baking contest took place in Tokyo earlier this month. This is one of the reasons I had been a bit away from here. I don’t remember how many loaves I baked, and I have totally no idea how much flours, dried fruits etc. were consumed for this 😀

At first, I was just trying to bake Bara Brith, a Welsh fruit loaf made with tea and Welsh version of Irish Barm Brack, according to a recipe postcard from a Postcrossing friend in Wales. Then the announcement of the contest followed: ‘Irish & British Bake-off! looking for contestants’. This was organized by an English woman who runs a bakery and baking classes in Tokyo, and had nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off 😀

To be honest, it was really struggling to make a NICE Bara Brith since no butter (or no oil) is used for the cake. It didn’t work out the way as I wanted at all, so I adopted a Boiled Fruitcake recipe and mixed up the methods, which turned out to be pretty well.

Unfortunately, the cake couldn’t beat others. For me, however, the result was rather good – I had assumed the physical appearance wouldn’t attract the judges and the cake would taste too heavy for Japanese. Surprisingly, I got 6 votes! and received some nice comments. Among others, ‘the cake was rich in depth and complexity and I loved it!’ satisfied me a lot. I didn’t reveal the ingredients, but some noticed the ‘complexity’.

My cake – Entry No. 4

The ingredient that gave the cake complex richness is Penderyn, Welsh single malt whisky, and I selected dried fruits and preserves which go perfectly well with the whisky.

Penderyn Madeira

I guess most of you haven’t heard of Welsh whisky unlike Scottish and Irish counterparts. Actually, the whisky production once died out in the late 19th century, but some entrepreneurs endevoured to revive distillation in the 1990s and in 2000, the Welsh Whisky Company was founded, which is now known as Penderyn Distillery.  As of 2016, Wales has two whisky distilleries in operation. (Wikipedia)

Penderyn whisky is completely different from Scotch – I have a kind of impression that Penderyn is feminine or womanly: smooth, fresh, sweet, elegant, flowery yet deep while Scotch is manliest: strong, powerful, earthy…. I tried some Scotch for the cake, but none of them created the ‘complexity’.

What makes Penderyn whisky unique is their still:

‘Our whisky still is a single copper-pot which produces a flavourful spirit of extraordinary strength and purity and was designed by Dr David Faraday, descendent of the ground-breaking Victorian scientist, Michael Faraday. As of 2013 we have a pair of these stills.

Whilst most Scottish and Irish distilleries use a conventional two or three-pot still system, the technology developed at Penderyn allows an extremely clean ‘flavourful’ spirit to be produced from a single still.’

I used Penderyn Madeira for the cake:

TASTING NOTES – Nose: A classic freshness with aromas of cream toffee, rich fruit and raisins. Palate: Crisp and finely rounded, with the sweetness to balance an appetising dryness. Finish: Notes of tropical fruit, raisins and vanilla persist. 2014 San Francisco World Spirits Competition – Silver (from Penderyn website)

Other than the whisky, my Bara Brith requires specific ingredients and products. I’m not sure if substitutes work or not, so I haven’t posted the recipe here. Please let me know if you would like to try to bake my Bara Brith. Anyway, I am going to develop this recipe and will post it later this year, hopefully before Christmas!

Next time in London, I’ll sign up for the Great British Baking Workshop (ex Celtic Baking Workshop) at Bread Ahead Bakery & School.


18 thoughts on “Bake-Off ! – Bara Brith and Welsh Whisky

  1. Your Bare Brith looks wonderful! I’d love a slice 🙂 You reminded me I have a little bottle of Welsh whisky someone gave me, which I must try. I also have an excellent Japanese single malt whisky, which my daughter brought back for me from a trip to Tokyo.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. How interesting! You really made the most when it comes to appearance. It’s not an easy one at all. I’m sure it tasted so good, with that special whiskey and the dried fruits. Looking forward to seeing the recipe. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for the comment. They were all good – I liked the lighter and fluffy Guiness cake, and raspberry & lemon curd cream sandwich sponge! Try the whisky if you come across – it’s fab!


  3. Congratulations! By seeing the result board your cake came on the 4th!! What an achievement. How come you know so much about whisky? The workshop seems interesting but I cannot find the fee. Do you know? The venue for the workshop is Borough Market … I feel so sad that such an horrible thing happened in the place where is supposed to be the happy place for all food lovers.😥

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good to hear from you – I was a bit worried about you as you were quiet over the weekend. Yeah so sad and feel sorry for the people encountered such tragedy…. but I give applause to the people who stood up to the terrorists (dangerous though) and to the generous shop giving free coffee to cheer up Londoners!
      As for the class fee, OMG!, 80 quids for the half day!! Such an amount!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you very much for worrying about me. Yes, I agree. The stories that people were helping each other in the life-threatening situation make me think “this world might not be that bad yet!”.
        Oh, 80 quids😵!!

        Liked by 1 person

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