A Welsh fruit bread loaf usually filled with dried raisins or currants and candied peel, hence often referred to as "speckled" bread. This is a traditional recipe by Chef Bryn Williams, which he refers to as his Nain's Bara Brith. (Source: 'Bryn's Kitchen' by Bryn Williams). Makes one loaf in a 7 1/4 in (length) X 4 in (width) x 4.5 in (height).
Line the base and sides of the loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
In a large mixing bowl, rub the lard or butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Then stir in the instant yeast, the brown sugar, the raisins or currants, and the candied peel (optional) till well combined.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the lukewarm water. Mix well until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a good 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and springs back when lightly pressed with your finger.
Work the bara brith into a long sausage shape that fits the length of the loaf pan. Place it in the lined tin, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour to an hour and a half.
Place your oven rack in the lowest part of the oven. Pre-heat to 180 deg C (350 deg F).
Bake the loaf for 40 minutes, or until golden all over. Turn out onto a wire rack and cool. Slice as desired. Best eaten immediately or when warm.
How to Prepare a Simple Water Bath
Bread loaves can be baked using a water bath method to get a crisp, crusty top, and to enable the bread to retain moistness in its texture. If preparing a water bath, place a shallow baking tray (which can hold water) on the oven floor or lowest rack of the oven. Place another rack immediately above this tray - just make sure that when the loaf tin is placed on it, the top of the loaf is in the centre of the oven. If the top of the loaf is too close to the top heating element in the oven, the top will bake and brown too quickly before the rest of the bread is baked through. This will create a dark, slightly blackened crust.
Pre-heat the oven as required. About 2 to 3 minutes before you put in the loaf to bake, pour enough water into the tray to fill it to a depth of 1 cm. But please be careful and do exercise caution! Be sure to protect your hands and arms from the steam that is created when the water comes into contact with the tray. Cover the lower arm holding the pouring cup with a damp tea towel or wear a long kitchen mitten that covers your lower arm. Be sure to face slightly away from the front of the oven, or to the side, to protect your body and face as well.