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Bara brith and rum marmalade

Categories: Product of the week

A decidedly adult conserve with fruit and spices, from seasonal trader Radnor Preserves

“A wise bear always keeps a marmalade sandwich under his hat in case of emergencies,” quoted Paddington—easily the world’s most famous marmalade eater, and a bear to whom marmalade-makers like Joanna Morgan have much to be grateful for. Sales of the traditional spread lifted substantially after the release of each Paddington film, in a trend which quickly became known as the ‘Paddington effect’.

“It brought it to life for the younger generation, so I’m delighted,” says Joanna, founder of Radnor Preserves—one of the finest artisanal conservators in Britain and the winner of a record-breaking three gold medals from the World Marmalade Festival. While there are many child-friendly marmalades to be found on her seasonal stall in Borough Market, her latest addition is best preserved for the older members of the family.

Dubbed bara brith and rum marmalade, on account of the rum and its bara brith-esque flavours, to the uninitiated it sounds somewhat incongruous. Bara brith in marmalade? Bear with us, however: this is a flavour combination to be reckoned with. “A beautifully glossy marmalade with something of the aroma of mincemeat, there's a lovely deep, treacly orange note laced with rum on the nose—even more resonantly on the palate,” wrote the judges at the Great Taste Awards. “A great set of textures that work very well together,” agreed the World Marmalade judges.

Thick, fruity slice
“What’s really nice is seeing people’s faces when they don’t know what to expect,” smiles Joanna, “and as they eat it, their faces totally transform.” For those who have yet to sink their teeth into a thick, fruity slice smothered in butter, bara brith is a traditional Welsh loaf cake flavoured with dried fruits, mixed spices and tea. “Bara brith translates as speckled tea cake. It’s very well known in Wales,” Joanna continues, “and those flavours translated into a marmalade are really interesting.”

A champion of local producers, Joanna added the Pembrokeshire-made rum to the marmalade to “round off” the flavours and create something a little bit different. “Where we can we use products from Wales: Welsh beer, gin, cider—and, as in this instance, Welsh black tea, which we soak the fruit in overnight before making the marmalade, and the Barti rum from the Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company.” They infuse the fine Caribbean rum they import with ‘Welshman's caviar’—that is, seaweed. The effects are magical and uplifting—and that’s before you add the fruit, spices and sugar associated with bara brith to the marmalade mix.

“You can spread it on toasted tea cakes, drizzle it on ice cream as an alternative to Christmas pudding, or even bake it into mince pies,” says Joanna. “They are delicious, especially served with a dollop of brandy cream or butter.” Whether Paddington would go for it, we can’t be sure—but we’ll be keeping it under our hats, just in case.