In recent years the kids’ school have been having a global week, celebrating the many different cultures of the children that attend the school. This usually involves food, geography, lots of creative activities and dressing up. This year the school suggested that the kids might want to specifically dress up in a costume from their own personal heritage, now both me and Mr. Lacer are English, as are both kids (in fact I’d describe both kids more specifically as Londoners, as they were both born in the city and I think there is always something very uniquely identifying when you can say you’re from a specific city, Girl Lacer was even born in the shadow of Big Ben and there’s not that much more London than that) but I don’t know, short of dressing them up as Morris Men or a Team GB athlete, there isn’t really an English national costume. So we looked back into our family trees and as I spent part of my childhood and early adulthood living in Wales, Girl Lacer’s grandad now lives in Wales and there is a welsh ancestor on that side of the family, we decided to go for Wales. (Boy Lacer on the other hand went for the easier – costume wise – American, as we have early American pioneers on both mine and Mr. Lacer’s family trees).
I was a bit younger than Girl Lacer is now when I lived in Wales but I have very clear memories of going to school dressed in Welsh national costume on St. David’s day (which happens to be soon, 1 March) when I was little, so I have memories of my mum cobbling together a costume, which I recreated for Girl Lacer. I was surprised to find that there isn’t a how to make wearable Welsh hats on Google (I did find a tutorial for how to make dolls Welsh hats) so I had to bodge it from memory, I think the result is probably a little tall but it’s ok.
I also had to make a skirt for Girl Lacer, as Girl Lacer is very much a leggings girl in winter, which is not very traditionally Welsh, so she didn’t have any plain suitable skirts in her wardrobe. I used the 20 minute skirt tutorial from Whipstitch, which ok, didn’t take 20 minutes but that’s probably more due to me trying to work around my limited space and it was still pretty quick. I’m really impressed by the skirt (if I do say so myself), I had thought a skirt more suited to toddlers might look a little babyish on Girl Lacer, specially with the elasticated waistband but I think the choice of quite grown up looking material makes it look ok. It makes me wish I’d made a few of these when she was younger.
I also made some Bara Brith for Girl Lacer to take in for her class to try. Bara Brith is welsh for speckled bread and it’s a tea loaf with dried fruit. I used the recipe from Paul Hollywood’s British Baking but adapted it quite a bit to in part make it more traditional, as he had suggested replacing some of the dried fruit with fresh fruit but I wanted to use the proper dried fruit so I followed his instructions on adapting the recipe back to its more traditional roots. I also adapted it by soaking the dried fruit in apple herb tea not normal tea, as I was cooking for kids (and I hate normal tea anyway). I also took out the ground almonds and replaced it with extra flour, to make the cake nut free (a sensible requirement when taking any food into school). I doubled up the amounts as I wanted to make one loaf for Girl Lacer to take into school and one loaf to keep at home (and to test it was ok first, I didn’t want Girl Lacer to take something into school that turned out to be inedible). As it turned out I had just about enough for a third loaf tin to (I always knew there was a reason why I had three loaf tins in my dangerously over flowing tin cupboard), so Girl Lacer took in two loaves which is good as trying to divide one Bara Brith between thirty would have been a bit much. As for the loaf I tested, it’s rather nice! I am regretting slightly using Waitrose’s mixed fruit bag, as it has dried orange peel in which comes over a bit overwhelmingly in the cake, so if I make this again I may buy the dried fruit separately and make my own mix. But even with orange peel it actually tastes nicer than the Bara Brith I remember from my youth, which always (on the few occasions I tried it) tasted a bit stodgy to me but probably in the same way you could go to any not particularly brilliant bakers and anything they make could seem stodgy, although it probably helps for my personal taste that I switch the tea to herb tea. So although this is no tray of brownies, I may make this again, as it’s low in fat (no butter or oil used in this recipe at all, just eggs) and fairly low in sugar, it’s also pretty filling.