Malt loaf is one of my quintessential childhood memories.It was a lovely filling snack after school when my Mum would cut thick slices of the sticky loaf and smother it in butter to keep us going until dinner time. It was rare to go on a school trip without a few slices wrapped in greaseproof. My love of malt loaf has never left me; the problem is the loaf is so moreish I can never stop at one slice.
The malt loaves we ate as children were Soreen, a shop-bought version and the only one I knew until I decided to make one myself. Surprisingly there are not that many recipes out there which is surprising as it is not so difficult to make.
My first attempt was following a recipe from one of my favourite food writers, Felicity Cloake at the Guardian. It was pretty good and naturally, not quite the same as the mass produced Soreen but a super-delicious version and one without any additives.
Here's my recipe adapted to bring me even closer to the one of my childhood. The texture is a little more open and cakey than the shop bought one, but the flavour is even better.
I use a mix of dried prunes, figs and some dried fruits as I find they make an even stickier cake but adjust the dried fruits to what you like.
It is so easy to make, but we warned, this malt loaf is seriously addictive.
- 2 bags tea (Yorkshire Tea works really well)
- 12 tbsp malt extract (can be found in a good health shop)
- 2 tbsp molasses (or black treacle)
- 50gsugar (soft dark brown )
- 100g prunes (dried, chopped)
- 50g common figs (chopped, dried)
- 50 dried fruit (mixed)
- 125g plain and 125g wholemeal mixed together
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
Pour 150ml of boiling water over the tea bags and leave the tea to steep for 10 minutes to create a good strong brew.
Remove the tea bags then add 9 tbsp of malt extract (keep the remaining extract for glazing after the loaf is cooked) the black treacle, sugar and the dried fruits. Stir well and leave to soak for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile line a medium loaf tin (approx 10 x 22 cm) with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
Sieve the flour mixture and baking powder into a large baking bowl and add the salt. Add the soaked fruits and tea and mix thoroughly to create a thick batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 160C/325/Gas 3 and cook for a further 40 minutes. The loaf is cooked when pierced with a skewer or toothpick and it comes out just about clean.
Take the loaf from the oven and pour the remaining malted extract over the loaf while it is warm and leave the loaf to cool in the tin.
Then (and this is the hard bit) wrap the loaf in paper and leave it to mature for 4 - 5 days.In this time the loaf will soften and become lovely and sticky.
To serve, cut into thick slices and smear with butter. If the loaf feels a little hard warm it gently for 10 secs in the microwave or a warm oven for 5 minutes.