Long time no blog!
I am still suffering from whatever my body decided is an appropriate amount of muscle pain for the day. But we recently got myself a standing desk at home so I can once again, write and edit photos!
If you don’t wanna read about my back, click HERE for bread chat and recipe!
This backpain thing started when we were in England seeing BKH’s family. I thought it might be all the various mattress I slept on was too soft and not supportive enough or something. But the pain didn’t stop when I got home, neither did it stop when I slept in our very firm guest bed for 3 weeks. The pain started to get worse, it spreaded from my mid-lower back to my lower ribs. I can’t lie in bed without pain, I can’t sit down without the throbbing compressed muscle pain in the area. I have been losing sleep and just in general getting really miserable. I can deal with a lot of things after a good night of sleep, but when I am tired, I can’t even deal with a cheerio falling out from my cereal bowl. That was where I was at. So doctor it is.
I am fairly convinced it is some sort of muscle pain. But the doctor thought it might be best to check my kidneys as well in case it is kidney stones. I was SHOCKED that was what they suggested. If this was kidney stones then accounts of such cases have certainly been over-exaggerated. I mean, I was in pain, but it was not excruciating. It is a nuisance and my quality of life has really gone down but you know. I was hoping not kidney stones. Anyway, I got an ultra-sound which was an interesting and annoying experience. Nothing has come out of it.
I have been to two different physiotherapist now. One was like, oh you need to move these muscles for your long term recovery and didn’t address any of my current pain issues. At a different physiotherapist now and slowly working on my mid back and ribs. I still have good and bad days. But sometimes I can sleep through the night and some days I have minimal pain. So… that is progress I guess. It is still incredibly shitty to wake up and not knowing what sort of day it is going to be.
Anyway. I am working on it.
Let’s talk about the bara brith!
It is a Welsh name translated into “Spotted bread”. There are two versions of this recipe if you search for it online. One is more cake like and one is a bread. I have tried the cake-like version before, it sorta has the texture of a firmer banana bread. It was alright, but for me actual bread is always more exciting!
In my past limited experience when you make a sweet bread, you don’t usually add the fat into the dough until the dough has been well developed. This one however, started off like a muffin. The butter get rubbed into the flour as a first step. I don’t know what difference it makes but I sort of like it. It made the dough easier to handle. The only other thing I have done differently from the original recipe is that I mixed the raisins in once the dough has been worked because kneading the dough with raisin already mixed in made for a lot of squished raisins.
The recipe also called for “mixed spice”. No idea what that was so I made my own mixed spices. I used my favourite ones: nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon, also cardamom tea to bring some of that extra spice into my dough. For dried fruits I used dried cranberries and sultanas, you can of course change it up to what you like.
Recipe from GBBO, makes two standard size loaf tin loaves
For the Bara Brith
450g Bread Flour
10g Active Dry Yeast
75g Cold Unsalted Butter, cubed
50g Brown Sugar
2 Tsp Mixed Spice*
350g Dried Fruit (Raisins, sultanas, cranberries)
225ml Strong Black Tea
1. Brew a nice strong cup of black tea with your favourite tea bag/leaves. I recommend tea bag because you can get a really strong flavour from it. Set aside tea to cool to slightly warmer than room temperature.
2. In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Then, rub butter cubes into the flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Mix in the yeast.
3. Add in sugar and mixed spice. Then add the egg, mix it. Then add the tea and bring the whole thing together to a dough. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and shiny. It is not necessary to windowpane it. It just need to be easy to handle not stick to your hands.
4. Mix in the dried fruits. Form a ball and let it rise in a warm place for an hour and a half or until double in size.
5. After the first rise, punch the dough down and shape it into a log the size of your loaf tin. You can butter the tin but I opted for baking paper. Also, while the log shape is traditional, I thought I’d try doing the 4 balls shape like how I do my brioche for a less chaotic lump. Leave in a warm place covered in clingfilm and let it rest for another 30 mins to an hour, depending on how warm it is where you leave it.
6. Just because your hour is up, preheat your oven to 200°c/392°f
7. Bake for 20 minutes uncovered. The top will brown quite quickly. After the 20 mins, cover with foil and bake for another 25 minutes.
8. Turn the bread out onto a cooling rack. And if you don’t want to glaze the bread, you can stop here. I’d highly recommend trying it at least once with the sugar syrup.
9. To make the sugar syrup. Combine equal amount of sugar and water in a small sauce pan. Once it bubbles and thicken up a bit, turn the heat off. Use a pastry brush and generously brush the syrup all over your bara brith. Let it cool. The syrup will crytalize a bit, that’s okay.
10. Slice and enjoy with some salted butter slathered on top, it is really satisfying.
I am hoping to get back on a regular two week schedule for posts. But we shall see how everything goes. XD