Our recipe for Vegan Bara Brith is super easy, fuss-free, and tasty. It's perfect for afternoon tea, tea time, break-time, and whenever you fancy a delicious snack. Bara brith is a traditional Welsh tea bread and is best enjoyed sliced and buttered with your favourite spread. Its bit like a cross between a fruit loaf cake, clootie dumpling, and malty bread! No-added margarine or butter is required for our recipe, which is also yeast-free and egg-free. This Bara brith recipe is great for vegan and plant-based diets as well as for those who enjoy traditional and delicious budget-bakes.
Bara Brith is a super moist, dense, soft and sticky quick fruit bread with deliciously sweet, fruity, spiced and malty flavours. Spread a slice with vegan butter for the best morning tea break. Or toast [broil] or fry in a skillet or pan for irresistible crispy chewy edges and delicious Christmas pudding inside textures and flavours.
❓ What is a Bara Brith?
Bara brith, pronounced - "bara breeth", is a traditional Welsh tea bread that is prepared with tea, a mixture of dried fruits and different warm spices. It is a nice dense, moist loaf packed with dried fruits, and with a rich, fruity flavour and a slightly sticky texture.
Bara brith is traditionally made with flour, yeast, dried mixed fruit, mixed spice, tea, butter, and eggs. Although some recipes omit the yeast and go with self-raising flour instead, while others include candied peel.
Bara brith is a tea bread so it is designed to be sliced and spread with butter or margarine, but other spreads can be used including marmalade, fruit jam, or even peanut butter.
Our Bara Brith recipe contains half and half flour - half wholemeal and half plain - so it contains more fibre than other tea loafs. This recipe is also yeast free and added fat free as there is no margarine, butter, or oil required to bake the tea bread. Our recipe also contains much less sugar compared to some other recipes however the Bara brith is still wonderfully moist, sweet, and is reminiscent of a delicious Malt Fruit Loaf as well as a Clootie Dumpling.
📜 Origin of tea bread in Britain
Tea was introduced to the British Isles in the 17th century. The first record of tea in England dates back to the 1650s and Catherine of Braganza, the Portuguese wife of King Charles II, is often given the credit of popularizing tea in the English court after their marriage in 1662.
By the early 18th century tea drinking was a privilege of the upper classes due to being expensive, but over time, as tea prices decreased it became more accessible to the poorer classes. By the late 18th century tea was being considered England's national drink, especially with the lower classes who would have humble staple meals of potatoes, bread and butter, and many cups of tea with the aim of filling hungry tummies!
Adding tea to actual fruit loafs or bread would have come a while later, likely during the late Victorian era or the years proceeding, as although there are recipes for Tea Bread in Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management  the sweet loafs do not actually contain any tea rather the loaf is prepared with yeast, eggs, and milk, and are intended for 'afternoon tea, tennis and garden parties'.
Nowadays, traditional fruit-filled tea breads are still very popular throughout the British Isles such as the Irish Barmbrack, Scottish Tea Bread, Scottish Selkirk bannock, Yorkshire Tea Loaf, and of course the Welsh Bara Brith or Barm Bread.
For another traditional Welsh tea time recipe do try our Welsh Cakes which are also known as Bakestone Cakes. And for a tasty Welsh dessert our Welsh Apple Cake is so good warmed up and enjoyed with hot vegan custard. St David's Day [the Patron Saint of Wales] is marked annually on the 1st March and is another excuse to enjoy delicious Welsh food. Lets keep Welsh custom, tradition, and history alive by appreciating tasty food!
🥣 How to prepare
Preparing Bara brith is very easy and the longest step is soaking the dried fruits in tea, but this can be done the evening before baking and takes just a few minutes to set up and then it can be left to steep. Many people like to use leftover tea from a home-brewed teapot for their Bara brith as it saves wasting the tea. Any type of tea leaf or tea bags can be used for a tea loaf.
Soaking the dried fruits in hot tea is an essential step as it ensures that the fruits are nicely plump and juicy before they are baked. The second step is to mix all the ingredients together and bake.
The ingredients you will need for the Bara brith are - self-raising flour, wholemeal self-raising flour, dried mixed fruits [a pre-made mixture or a mix of currants, sultanas, and raisins with optional chopped candied fruit peel], light brown sugar, salt, a lemon, ground mixed spice [or a different spice blend], apple sauce, and a couple of tea bags.
[If you can't access self-raising or self-rising flour you can make your own by adding a teaspoon of baking powder to every heaped cup of plain or all-purpose flour [about 150 grams. Wholemeal flour is the same as whole wheat flour and you can also add baking powder to these flours to create a self-raising version.]
Step 1: First add the dried fruits to a mixing bowl.
Step 2: Steep two teabags in boiling water for a few minutes.
Step 3: Pour the tea into the dried fruits and stir. Pop in the teabags and leave to sit for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Step 4: The next day or after 6 hours have passed, drain the tea and the tea bags out of the dried fruit but retain the tea. Place the dried fruits back into the mixing bowl and add the self-raising flour, wholemeal self-raising flour, brown sugar, apple sauce, baking powder, salt, mixed spice powder, and lemon zest into the mixing bowl with the fruits.
Step 5: Give it all a good stir.
Step 6: Add 1 cup [240 millilitres] of the drained tea into the mixture and stir until just combined.
Step 7: Transfer the mixture into the loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes.
Step 8: Cool in the loaf pan for about 30 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. If you can wait, once cool, wrap the Bara brith up in parchment paper and a second layer of Aluminium foil and keep until the next day before slicing!
🧾 Recipe notes
Store this fruit bread in a dry, cool area, and wrapped in parchment or baking paper and a second layer of Aluminium foil and place into a cake tin or similar, for up to 5 days potentially a few days longer. The fruit bread can also be stored, wrapped, within the refrigerator if your kitchen is quite warm.
Store wrapped in food wrap and a second layer of Aluminium foil and pop into a freezer bag or food container, for 2-3 months. Freeze either slices of fruit loaf [individual wrapped] or the entire loaf.
Slices of Bara Brith can be warmed through in a hot oven for a few minutes or they can be toasted [broiled], air fried, or pan fried.
Toast or broil:
Toast each side under a grill or broiler, or using a toaster machine, until each side is toasty, crisp, and golden. Spread with butter or your favourite spread. This makes a tasty accompaniment for breakfast or a quick morning snack along with a cuppa tea.
Add a slice or a few slices of Bara Brith, in a single layer, to the air fryer basket. Switch the heat to 180 C and toast each side for about 3-4 minutes or until nicely golden and to your liking. Spread with vegan butter or margarine while still hot. We like this for a supper time snack as the crust goes all crisp and chewy while the insides are similar to a clootie dumpling or Christmas pudding.
Skillet or fry pan:
Heat some oil in a skillet or fry pan and cook each side of the Bara brith for a few minutes until nicely golden and the dried fruit is dark and fried. Spread with vegan butter while hot.
A slice of fried Bara brith is enjoyed by many as part of a traditional British cooked breakfast - which usually contains potato scones, sausages, vegan, egg, tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding, and baked beans.
Of course, vegan options for sausages and bacon can replace the meat ones and scrambled chickpeas are an ideal replacement for eggs.
In Scotland we have something called a 'breakfast fruit pudding' which is similar to black pudding so is not vegan, and comes in a patty or burger shape or sausage shape, and is prepared with oatmeal, breadcrumbs, beef suet, raisins, currants, and spices such as cinnamon, and brown sugar.
The breakfast fruit pudding is usually fried and accompanies a full Scottish breakfast, and so a slice of our Bara brith would be the ideal meat-free alternative to go along with a vegan Scottish cooked breakfast.
Any type of tea will work fine for Bara brith. For our recipe we used 2 Clipper organic English tea bags, but you can experiment with any type of tea such as Chai tea, green tea, herbal tea, fruit teas, etc. If you prefer a traditional taste, stick to a strong black tea like English Breakfast or perhaps Earl Grey. Ordinary tea bags like Tetley Tea, Yorkshire Tea, and Scottish Blend are also good for tea breads. Decaffeinated tea is also fine.
Yes, you can definitely use freshly brewed tea made from tea leaves for this recipe. Traditionally many people liked to bake a Bara brith whenever they had enough leftover brewed tea in their teapot. However, do ensure that you strain the tea well to remove all the leaves before combining it with the dried fruits.
The recipe uses Colemans apple sauce, but any brand of apple sauce will work wither shop-bought or homemade. Alternatively you can use home-made apple sauce or apple puree.
You can use a ready-made mixture of raisins, currants, sultanas, and candied fruit peel. Alternatively, you can create your own mix using any combination of these dried fruits or add others like dried cherries, blueberries, apricots, dates, or even dried cranberries, although do chop up any larger pieces of dried fruits.
Yes we use light brown sugar as it has a nice molasses flavour but you can also use dark brown sugar for a stronger molasses taste or granulated white sugar if that's what you have on hand. Although, do keep in mind that the type of sugar can change the flavour and colour of your fruit loaf.
Yes, this is really easy to do and is simply a case of mixing about 1 cup or about 200 grams of granulated sugar with about 1 tablespoon of molasses. Mix both together [either pulse in a food processor or by hand with a mixing spoon] until fully combined, and then store in an air-tight container where it will keep well for many months. For a dark brown sugar use 2 tablespoons of molasses per cup.
Pre-soaking the fruits in tea softens them and plumps them up with moisture and flavour. This ensures a juicy fruit in every bite of the loaf and prevents them from drawing moisture out of the loaf during baking, which could make it dry.
As these types of dried fruit are already pre-soaked they are juicy and plump so would not be ideal for the Bara brith as the idea is for the dried fruits to soak up the tea. Pre-soaked ready-to-eat dried fruits won't be able to soak up enough of the tea so its best to keep those for eating and use dried fruits for the Bara brith recipe.
The recipe uses mixed spice powder [usually a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, mace, coriander, and ginger], but this can be replaced with ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger, or even some ground coriander or cardamon. You can create your own mix by adding a pinch of this and a pinch of that. Alternatively, use pumpkin spice mix, apple pie spice mix, or even some allspice.
Wholemeal self-raising flour is essentially whole wheat flour that has leavening agents, usually baking powder, already mixed into it. Unlike regular self-raising flour made from white, refined grains, wholemeal self-raising flour retains the bran and germ of the wheat, which makes your home-bake contain more fibre as well as a denser texture and nuttier flavour.
While wholemeal self-raising flour is usually available in many UK supermarkets and wholefood stores, if you can't source it then you can make your own adding a leavening agent to wholemeal or whole wheat flour. For every heaped cup measurement [about 150 grams] of wholemeal or whole wheat flour, you can add 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
When we researched old recipes for Bara Brith, we discovered that many traditional versions used 100% wholemeal flour [which is the same as whole wheat flour]. Wholemeal flour provides the Bara brith with a rustic, nutty, and earthy flavour and texture similar to bakes from the past. We choose to bake a half and half Bara brith so we also added half plain self-raising flour, so that the sweet loaf retained a lighter and airier crumb that would rise well in the oven. Besides adding wholemeal flour also adds more fiber which is always a win-win!
If preferred you can omit the wholemeal self-raising flour and replace it with the same quantity of plain self-raising or self-rising flour. Your Bara brith will be a different texture and colour but will still be tasty.
A nice cup of tea, coffee, or chilled plant-based milk always pairs well with a tasty moist and sweet slice of tea loaf.
Other traditional accompaniments include sliced cheese - slices of plant-based cheese does pair very well with fruity sweet bakes. As well as a few juicy cherry tomatoes which can bring a nice acidic but sweet flavour.
Tea loaf also pairs well with vegan butter or margarine, fruit jam, peanut butter or other nut or seed butters, marmalade, preserves, mashed banana, or vegan cream cheese.
For breakfast, a slice of toasted [broiled], pan fried, or air fried Bara brith spread with vegan butter, and enjoyed along with plant-based yogurt and fresh fruits or granola is a tasty hearty meal.
For a snack, especially if your out for a trek in the hills or even just on a work break, a slice of buttered Bara brith enjoyed with a wedge of cheese and perhaps an apple is a very sustaining and tasty mini meal.
Toasted and spread with vegan butter so that it melts in the warmth of the sweet, moist, and sticky slice of Bara brith turns this homely tea bread into a dessert-like treat. The warm insides of the tea bread are similar in flavour and texture to a delicious Scottish clootie dumpling or even a festive Christmas pudding. Its the perfect tea time treat for enjoying over the chillier winter months.
👪 More vegan traditional fruit loaves for tea time
Fruit loafs, tea breads, or quick sweet breads, have long been traditional British tea time stapes and they are the perfect alternative to a slice of cake as they often contain less fat and sugar in the recipe yet are still deliciously sweet enough to satisfy any sweet craving.
Although, the following recipes do not contain any actual tea they are the ideal accompaniment to a nice cup of tea, coffee, or chilled glass of your favourite plant-based milk.
As well as for snacks, tea time, and supper time we do like a slice of sweet quick bread for a speedy breakfast especially spread with peanut butter, fruit jam, or even mashed banana.
***please note: for US measurements click the 'US customary button' within the recipe and the measurements will switch to tablespoons, cups, and ounces.***
Bara Brith [Welsh Tea Bread]
- 2 Ib [900 grams] loaf pan
- parchment paper or paper loaf pan insert
- Mixing bowl
- heat-proof bowl or jug
- citrus zester
- 300 grams dried fruit mix [a ready-made mixture of raisins, currants, sultanas, candied fruit peel, or can use your own mix of dried fruits]
- 380 millilitres hot tea [use 2 tea bags or 3 if preferred]
- 85 grams light brown sugar [or dark brown sugar]
- 170 grams self-raising flour [see recipe notes for preparing your own]
- 170 grams self-raising wholemeal flour [see recipe notes for preparing your own]
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt [if using self-raising flour outwith the UK this ingredient can be omitted if your flour has added salt]
- 2 teaspoons mixed spice powder [can replace with ground cinnamon, ginger, allspice, pumpkin spice mix, apple pie spice mix, etc.
- 3 tablespoons apple sauce [home-made or shop-bought jarred apple sauce]
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest [zest of 1 small-medium lemon]
Pre-soak the dried fruits in hot tea:
- Add the dried fruit mix to a mixing bowl. Make the hot tea up in a heat-proof jug using 2 tea-bags and leave to steep for a few minutes.300 grams dried fruit mix, 380 millilitres hot tea
- Pour the hot tea into the dried fruits, reserving the tea-bags. Stir the dried fruits well and then pop the tea bags into the tea pushing them under the liquid.
- Add a lid or dinner plate over the mixing bowl and leave to steep for at least 6 hours or over-night.
Prepare the Bara Brith:
- Preheat the oven to 150 Fan, 170 C, 338 Fahrenheit, or Gas 3.
- Grease the loaf pan with margarine and line with parchment paper or pop in a loaf pan paper baking insert.
- Drain the tea from the dried fruits but keep the tea as you will need it for the fruit loaf. Squeeze all the tea out of the tea-bags before setting them aside.
- Add the soaked dried fruits back in to the mixing bowl, along with the rest of the ingredients - self-raising flour, wholemeal self-raising flour, baking powder, mixed spice, lemon zest, sugar, salt, and apple sauce.85 grams light brown sugar, 170 grams self-raising flour, 170 grams self-raising wholemeal flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons mixed spice powder, 3 tablespoons apple sauce, 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- Stir everything together and then pour in 1 cup [240 milliliters] of the strained tea. If you have a little less tea than this amount don't worry as it will be fine. A teaspoon or two less tea won't make much difference but if you have a lot less then you can make it up with extra water or tea.Stir the tea through until just combined.
- Transfer the mixture into the loaf pan and level the surface a little.
- Bake on the middle shelf for 55-60 minutes until the Bara Birth is firm, has risen, is golden, and a skewer popped in comes out clean.
- Cool in the loaf pan for about 30 minutes before removing and cooling on a wire rack. Once cool wrap it up and if possible try leave it until the next day to enjoy!
- Its traditional to enjoy a slice of Bara brith with a good buttering of butter - vegan butter of course is a good alternative!Slices can also be toasted [broiled], pan fried in a fry pan or skillet with a little oil, or in an air fryer until all toasty, crisp, and with a nice golden colour. Pan fried Bara brith goes nicely with a vegan full Scottish or English cooked breakfast.See our recipe notes above this recipe card for photos and easy methods!
- Store this fruit bread in a dry, cool area, and wrapped in parchment or baking paper and a second layer of Aluminium foil and place into a cake tin or bread bin or food container, for up to 5 days potentially a few days longer. The fruit bread can also be stored, wrapped, within the refrigerator if your kitchen is quite warm.
- Store wrapped in food wrap and a second layer of Aluminium foil and pop into a freezer bag or food container, for 2-3 months. Freeze either slices of fruit loaf [individual wrapped] or the entire loaf.
- Traditionally, Bara brith, like many other fruit cakes and plain cakes, was enjoyed with slices of cheese as the cheese compliments the sweet and warm spices.
- We used 2 Clipper organic English tea bags but any tea bags are fine including chai tea, green tea, herbal tea, fruit teas, etc.
- We used Colemans apple sauce but any type of apple sauce can be used or go with apple puree either shop bought or home-made.
- For this recipe we used Doves farm organic wholemeal self-raising flour. It can be sourced at Sainsbury's [UK] and some whole food shops. Asda, Tesco & Morrisons [UK] stock Allinson wholemeal self-raising flour.
- Wholemeal flour is the same as whole wheat flour.
- Self-raising wholemeal flour has a raising agent added.
- if you can't source self-raising wholemeal flour then you can make your own by adding baking powder to wholemeal or whole wheat flour. For every heaped cup measurement [about 150 grams] of wholemeal or whole wheat flour, you can add 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
- For this recipe we used a US standard measurement cup size which is a 240 millilitre cup.
- If preferred omit the wholemeal flour and replace it with plain self-raising flour.
- For more useful recipe notes and frequently answered questions do check out those sections above this recipe card. Information includes how to toast [broil] slices of Bara brith as well as using an air fryer or fry pan to prepare pan fried slices.
Prepared our Vegan Bara Brith recipe? We would love to know how you got on with the recipe so do pop back and drop us a comment below and click the star ratings. Thanks so much, its very much appreciated, Love Jacq x