You can’t beat a slice of good old fashioned malt loaf. Made with malt extract and packed full of juicy dried fruit, it is deliciously sticky and fragrant. Serve in slices spread with butter and lots of strong tea for a nostalgic treat.
Who’s watching The Great British Bake off? I will put my hands up and admit I haven’t seen the first episode that landed on UK screens earlier this week yet, but I read all about what the contestants were asked to bake.
Episode one was cake week (as always) and Prue Leith challenged the bakers to make a malt loaf. Even just reading about it made me want to run into the kitchen and make one – and guess what? That’s exactly what I did!
I”ve always been pretty partial to a slice of fruit cake – I’ll often bake this fruit bran loaf, an Irish Barmbrack or a Dundee cake whenever the mood strikes me – but I hadn’t made a malt loaf in years. I don’t mind a slice of Soreen now and then, but let’s be honest, it just doesn’t compare to a homemade sticky malt loaf.
why you should try this recipe
- It’s not too sweet – making it the perfect mid afternoon snack that won’t send your sugar levels crazily sky high – not to mention it goes perfectly with a cup of tea
- quick and easy to make
- It’s a great keeper cake – in fact it’s better made in advance (if you have the willpower to leave it alone for a few days!)
- You could make one large loaf or two small – freeze one for another time or give it to a friend
(I want you to feel confident and prepared when making this recipe for the first time, so here’s a quick ingredient list. Keep scrolling to the bottom of the post to find printable recipe card!)
- Prunes. If you’re thinking, “ew, I can’t stand prunes” I hear you! I wouldn’t normally eat them as they are, but prunes really are fabulous in fruit cake – they add a lovely squidgy texture, a subtle sweetness and help keep the cake moist.
- Raisins or sultanas. I used a mixture of both.
- Malt extract is the key ingredient. I know it’s not the easiest of things to find, but it’s well worth seeking out. If you can’t find it in your local supermarket, check in a health food shop. I used Meridian malt extract.
- Dark brown muscavado sugar adds a lovely treacle flavour. Light brown sugar can be used instead.
- Black treacle adds depth of flavour. If you’re looking for more recipes to use up a jar of treacle, check out these spiced ginger cookies and Yorkshire Parkin.
- Black Tea. Use any tea you normally like to drink. I used Yorkshire tea.
- Plain (all purpose) flour.
- Baking powder helps the cake to rise.
recipe notes and commonly asked questions
- If you have the time, it’s certainly not a bad idea to soak the dried fruit in the tea for a few hours or even overnight. Make the tea in a large jug or bowl and add the chopped prunes and sultanas or raisins. Leave the fruit to soak for at least 1 hour or overnight before adding to the cake mixture. If you’re in a rush or don’t want to wait, you don’t have to do this – the cake is delicious either way!
- If you don’t want to make a large malt loaf, you could split the mixture between two 450g (1lb) loaf tins – eat one and freeze one for another day, or give it to a neighbour/friend/person in need of cake!
- I’ve slightly adapted this recipe by Nigel Slater. I’ve tried a few malt loaf recipes and this one is by far my favourite.
Like gingerbread, malt loaf is a great keeper cake. Wrapped in a layer of baking paper and foil and stored in an airtight tin, it will keep for about a week. If you can resist temptation and leave it for two or three days, it will become even more delicious and sticky.
Can you freeze malt loaf?
Yes, it actually freezes very well. Wrap individual slices in cling film and tin foil or store in freezer bags. Freeze for up to three months.
I’ll be baking something from each GBBO episode every week – don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss a recipe! Next week – brandy snaps!
did you make this recipe?
I would love to hear what you thought of it! Leave a comment below and please rate the recipe by clicking on the stars in the recipe card.
more fruit cakes to try
- 1 tea bag (any good strong tea)
- 125ml just boiled water
- 100g stoned dried prunes
- 125g sultanas or raisins
- 150g plus 1 tablespoon malt extract
- 100g dark brown (or light) muscavado sugar
- 2 tablespoons black treacle (molasses)
- 250g plain (all purpose) flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- a pinch of fine salt
- 2 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 160C/140Fan/Gas mark 3. Grease and line the base and sides of a 900g (2lb) loaf tin. Make the tea with the tea bag and 125ml water. Chop the prunes into small pieces (I use scissors.) If you are soaking the fruit in the tea, add it now and leave for at least one hour or overnight.
- Place the malt extract, black treacle and dark brown sugar in a medium saucepan and melt over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.
- Pour the melted malt extract, treacle and sugar mixture into the bowl of flour followed by the dried fruit and tea. Break the eggs into a cup and beat with a fork. Fold the eggs into the batter.
- Spoon the soft batter into the lined tin. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until the cake has risen and springs back to the touch when lightly pressed. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin. Brush the remaining 1 tablespoon of malt extract over the cake while it is still warm.
This cake is best made in advance - the flavours develop after a few days and it becomes deliciously sticky. A couple of days is ideal, but if you can stand to leave it for three days, it will be absolutely perfect.
It will keep for up to a week (in theory!) - wrap in a layer of baking paper and tin foil and store in an airtight tin.
If you don't want to make a large malt loaf, you could split the mixture between two 450g (1lb) loaf tins instead - eat one and freeze one for another time, or give one to a friend! The smaller loaves will take about 40-45 minutes to bake, but keep in mind all ovens vary.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 135Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 79mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 1gSugar: 25gProtein: 2g
Calories and nutritional information are provided by a third party application and should be viewed as indicative figures only.