Malt Loaf – it might not really be bread, but it’s good!
OK, ok, so it’s GBBO bread week, and I’m super excited to see what the bakers have been up to. I love making bread, and indeed eating it. Mmm, hot, buttered toast. So I toyed with several ideas of what to make this week – maybe some new spiced flatbreads, a chewy, flavoursome sourdough, or a dinner-worthy focaccia layered with sweet roasted tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil?
However, nothing was quite hitting the spot. For one thing, has anyone noticed that it’s a little darker in the evenings suddenly? And there’s a bit of a bite in the wind first thing in the morning. This week’s bake needed a warming wrap of comfort about it, something to cosy up to. And for this, I turned to malt loaf. Sweet, sticky, great with a hot drink and inch-thick butter. But probably not really bread, despite the name.
Plus I got to try out a new ingredient – malt extract. It’s great for adding in to baking, giving a sweet caramelised flavour and a deeper brown colour. I also got to find out just how sticky it is, even worse than the treacle!
The recipe I’ve used compliments the malt extract with treacle and brown sugar, reminiscent of the rich, dense cakes you might bake at Christmas time. Certainly, malt loaf is no Victoria sponge. It’s heavy, gloriously sweet and chewy and will collapse in the middle under its own weight. A hearty cake to fuel you through tea break on a damp, cool afternoon.
This recipe from the Guardian jumped out at me. Felicity Cloake gives a great overview of the different recipe approaches to malt loaf, then settles on her favourite version. A couple of hints and tips before you start baking:
- The recipe doesn’t use eggs or dairy/butter – great if you need to avoid these ingredients or just don’t have them to hand.
- I sourced malt extract at Holland and Barrett, and it is fairly widely available.
- The recipe calls for a 10cm x 20cm tin. I went with my 2lb loaf tin (11cm x 22cm) and the loaf fitted well – a 1lb loaf tin would have been too small I think.
- Both malt extract and treacle are pretty sticky and difficult to measure out. You could try to use a warm metal spoon, and don’t be worried about being exactly accurate with getting whole tablespoonfuls in – some of it will stick stubbornly to the spoon!
- Try to make a day or two ahead if you can – this loaf definitely improves with a little age.
A simple recipe, with minimal ingredients but a great result. Enjoy a thick slice generously slathered with butter as the afternoon draws in. Or you could even pair it with some strong cheese and make a savoury snack.
Have a go, and let me know how you get on.