The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Greetings from Oxfordshire

pjaj's picture

Greetings from Oxfordshire

I've been a member of this site for little over a week and made a few posts on various topics.

I’m a retired engineer living in England, near Oxford. I’ve been trying to bake bread for at least the past 30 years, but my early attempts all came out like house bricks, “very substantial” and “filling” were the most flattering comments. I could never get the dough to rise much again after knocking it down and putting it in the tins. Then I was lucky enough to install an oven (Neff) with a bread proving setting (about 30 degrees C) and I’ve never looked back.  I now have a baking day whenever we run out of bread and make about 10 loaves at a time. The purists amongst you will wince when I say that we freeze the bulk of the cooked loaves, but it works for me.

I’ve always used our trusty Kenwood Chef Major (UK food mixer) which can easily handle the dough from 1kg of flour, and has mixed 1.5kg betimes. Although I’ve tried lots of recipes, including Peter Reinhart’s  and sourdough, my family’s favourite is a granary bread made from Doves Malthouse flour. Doves is an organic flour miller widely available in UK supermarkets and health food shops.

  • 1kg bag Malthouse flour
  •  Scant 600ml warm filtered water
  • 2 tsp Doves dried yeast (I find this better than other makes)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1tsp sugar (any)
  • A good glug of sunflower oil (or similar)

Mix the dry ingredients; with the mixer running add the oil and then the water. Keep stopping to scrape down the mixer bowl and adjust the hydration until the dough forms into a ball on the dough hook and the bowl is clean. Kneed at slow speed (1 – 3) for about 4-5 minutes, stopping now and then to scrape the dough off the hook.

Mix a second batch and rise them both in the proving oven.

When doubled in size, knock down and combine both batches, kneading them together. Of course, if you are mixing by hand, you can make them as one, but I’m lazy – let the machine do the hard work. You should have about 3.3kg of dough. Cut into 3 equal pieces and form into loaf tins (Tefal 9X5X3in = 23X13X7cm – can’t get these any more – best non-stick heavy aluminium pans I’ve ever had - suggestions please). Allow to second rise until the dough is domed to the rim of the tins, and then bake at 220 degrees C for about 35-40 minutes. The loaves will fall out of these tins. If they look a bit underdone, quickly return naked loaf to the oven for a further 5 minutes. Cool, eat or freeze.

I’ve had passable success with sourdough recently, but the loaves have spread too far after shaping and come out too flat. In general I’ve found that the hydration recommended in most recipes is too high for my liking and reducing it by 5-10% makes dough that is less sticky and keeps its shape when baked without a tin. I cannot get on with high hydration recipes.

Today I’ve been baking pizzas. For these I use Jamie Oliver’s recipe - 800gr Canadian very strong white flour (Waitrose) and 200gr of semolina, 650 ml warm water, salt, sugar, yeast and olive oil.

Enough rambling.

Monica's picture

Hi, I now live in South Carolina but use to live in Buckinghamshire. (I married an Englishman.)  That was a long time ago!  When in the UK I took a bread baking class with a master baker.  What I got out of it was that you proof and knock back quickly, then proof & knock back.  Time between was 10 mins, then 20, then maybe 30.  It worked!  Of course we were doing one loaf at a time.  My question: with all the  WONDERFUL breads in the local bakeries, do you still buy bread?  Also, I asked this question some many months ago and never got a satisfactory answer: Do you have a good recipe (not one in %'s) for that wonderful little gooey malt loaf we so loved?  I have tried several recipes, but they are not THE ONES! Monica

pjaj's picture

Hi Monica,

Thanks for the tip; I presume you are talking about high hydration dough.

Yes there are some wonderful local breads, we even have an artisan baker in our village who supplies the village shop. And there are several other good bakeries I know of. I do sometimes still buy bread, but despite the fact that it's hardly any cheaper to bake your own, there's nothing like the satisfaction.

I know the malt loaf you mean, one commercial brand is Soreen That stuff will stick to anything, the knife, your mouth, the ceiling! Sadly I haven't tried to bake one, so I don't have a recipe I could recommend. I can only find one recipe in my cook books (Good Housekeeping) but that doesn't look quite right, there's no dried fruit in it. Still it might be a place from which to start experimenting. The malt loaf I think we a talking about is dense and sticky; it looks as if it has hardly risen at all.

  • 450 gr strong white flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried yeast (or 25gr fresh yeast)
  • 150ml warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp malt extract
  • 1 tbsp black treacle / molasses
  • 25 gr butter

If using fresh yeast, disolve it in the warm water. Just melt the butter , malt and treacle in a pan. Sift the salt and flour into a bowl. Stir in the water and the malt mixture and mix to a soft, sticky dough adding more water if necessary. Kneed for 10 minutes, Divide in half and shape to fit 2 off 1lb loaf tins. Allow to rise till the dough fills the tins. Glaze tith sugar syrup. Bake at 200 degrees C for 30-40 minutes.

Delia Smith has an almost identical recipe on line except that she adds 225gr of sultanas, uses 225ml of water and 2 tbsp of treacle. She says it can take up to 5 hours to rise!,842,RC.html

You may also be amused by the discussion at

where it appears that Malt loaf is uniquely British. (Apart from one baked in Brazil for a religious celebration) Part of the problem is that malt extract is almost unknown in many parts of the world.

Monica's picture

Both of you above are thinking of the same thing I am I'm sure.  Because I lived in the UK I do have scales, but use cups here in the USA.  Either is fine.  Many thanks!  This is a great site.... I have found long lost recipes and I will try ALL malt loaf ones until I get the right one.  I do have malt syrup as well as powder, and treacle too, although Karo syrup is the same thing.  Many thanks for your postings!  

Monica's picture

Having read through all you sent I think I may be on to something, finally!  I can always add sultanas to any recipe so I am off to give it a try.  The wikipedia picture is what I remember, the Delia one looks to "high" and "possible dry" compared to the sticky stuff I remember.  Many, many thanks!

pjaj's picture

This afternoon I baked a pair of malt loaves to Delia's recipe (see above). I doubled the quantities, used very strong bread flour bigger tins, still making two loaves. It went very well. After letting them cool we tried a couple of slices. The tast is very reminiscent of Soreen, but there is a pronounced crust and both the texture and the colour are lighter. It's fairly dense but not really very sticky. I think it was well worth the effort and I suggest all those who hanker after malt loaf to try it.

I have found the following recipe that is significantly different on

MALT LOAF - makes 2 x 1lb loaves (450g)

8oz/225g sultanas
8oz/225g raisins
3oz/85g butter
half pint/290ml water
12oz/340g self-raising flour
half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
8oz/225g soft dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tbsp malt extract

1. Preheat oven to 180c/350f/gas 4. Grease and flour 2 x 1lb loaf tins.

2. Put the sultanas, raisins, butter and water together into a large saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Allow to cool a little.

3. In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt together. Stir in the sugar.

4. Pour in the warm fruit mixture and add the beaten eggs and malt extract. Mix well with a spoon.

5. Pour into the prepared tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes, then move to a lower shelf and bake for a further 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for five minutes.

Slice, butter and ENJOY!!


Let us all know how you get on with baking malt loaves.


Monica's picture

Hi y'all from the Deep South of SC.  Well, I think I have given up on malt loaf.  I have no idea why the recipe is so secret, but there you have it.  I tried pjaj's recipe prior (but comparable) to Delia's. I ended up tossing it in the bin!  Dry, light in color, and "bread-like" in texture.  I want the sticky, gooey one that was pictured from Soreen.  There is another recipe that pjaj sent that has no yeast in it, but I'm not sure it will work either.  I can't get the DARK, sticky stuff with the delicious taste!  One person sent me a recipe in %'s, but I am mathematically challenged, and it was to much to think about.  So, there it is... no malt loaf, just grand memories!  I'm making sourdough today, I'm good at that. 

pjaj's picture

Post the % recipe here and I or someone else will translate it into grams and /or lbs, probably based on 450gr / 1lb flour.

I'm still looking for the "Soreen" recipe as well, but I didn't think Delia's version was that bad. Maybe it requires more treacle and malt and less water?

pjaj's picture

Well one way of getting the recipe is to go to the Soreen site and read it! It's not completely specific, but is as follows. I've looked up the E numbers and annotated the recipe. Note the percentages, where given, are normal ones, not baker's.

Wheat flour
Raisins 14%
Invert sugar syrup + colour E150C Ammonia caramel
Malt flour 5%
Malt extract 4.5%
Dried whey
Vegetable fat
Preservative E282 Calcium propionate
Emulsifier E471 Mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids

I guess we can omit all the E number ingredients as they don't serve any taste purpose.

The first 3 ingredients requite no explanation, although quantities will need to be determined.

Starch is used in the food industry as a thickener and can come from many sources including wheat, so it could be lumped in with the flour. Potato flour and corn flour are other possible sources.

Invert sugar syrup can be made by boiling sugar syrup for 20 minutes with 0.1% by weight of citric acid or ascorbic acid or cream of tartar. But easier than that, golden syrup is 56% invert sugars and sounds like a good ingredient for our purposes (nice and sticky). Note there isn't any mention of molasses or treacle, but since these products are the residue of sugar refining (boiling) they are also mostly invert sugar syrup. We've been this way before with Delia and other recipes.

Malt flour comes in many forms and ranges from pale to very dark depending on the degree of roasting the malted grain has undergone. Bearing in mind the colour of Soreen, I would think we should start with the dark varieties. It's used commercially as a colourant for brown breads, but only at the 0.5% level so I've no idea what 10 times this level will do.

Dried Whey - powdered milk?

The malt extract, fat, salt and yeast seem to be standard ingredients as well.

I think we could get close by modifying Delia's recipe. I'll give it some more thought over the next few days, try to obtain a supply of malt flour and report back.

I've just been searching for malt flour and found the following, see 7th item in the list.


Monica's picture

THAT is the same thing I have, no need to type it out for you.  Since I am not good at math (that is an understatement), I didn't even try.  I have never seen malt flour over here, or anywhere, but I will try again to find some.  I think that may be the difference.  It is not worth importing it from the UK.  I will be gone next week, and don't have time to explore the loaf right now, but I will get back to it after Easter.  Right now, I am going to make Hot-Cross buns!  Thanks for all the trouble you are going through.  My UK relatives and friends are not bakers, so can't help me.

pjaj's picture

I can't find a retail outlet that sells dark malt flour in the UK. It seems only to be availablein commercial quantities (50kg) for bakers. I've emailed a couple of the manufacturers to see if they have any retail outlets, but I'm not hopeful.

I did find a current discussion on another forum about malt loaves. One of the posters talks about malt flour, but he means the one I found in my previous post from Wessex Mills which is a ready mixed blend. Still it makes interesting reading, but probably does not advance our cause.

I think that I will order some of the Wessex Mills flour now, and when it arrives next week, I will start experimenting with small batches.


Monica's picture

Thanks pjaj.  As I said, I will be gone all this coming week.  To be continued.... 

There IS a local (new) artisan baker in my area, when next I'm there, I will ask them about malt flour.  

pjaj's picture

I've just finished baking my next attempt at a Soreen lookalike malt loaf. I didn't go by the recipe on their site after all, but made it up myself after a bit of thought. I think the results are encouraging. The colour is more like it. It's stickier than my first attempt. However it still has a crisp crust and it could be stickier. I've heard tell of one cyclist who sustains himself by sticking slices of Soreen to the crossbar of his bike, where they stay till he needs a carb boost!

Yesterday I drove over to Wessex Mills who are only about 10 miles away in Wantage. I bought 5 X 1.5kg bags of assorted flours, including their Malt Bread mix. One problem with this company is that they insist on adding L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) "flour improver" to all their products. Also the proportion of malt flour to ordinary flour in their mix (15%) is fixed. It would appear that they are really catering to the small commercial baker who wants 10 or 16kg sacks but have a good side line in 1.5kg bags for the likes of me. These are widely available in health food shops, bakeries who sell flour, delicatessens, farm shops etc.

  • 500gr Malt Loaf Bread Flour
  • 250gr raisins
  • 250gr sultanas
  • 80gr malt syrup
  • 80gr treacle / molasses
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1.5tsp dried yeast
  • 80gr butter / sunflower spread (Flora)
  • 250ml warm water

I use my mixer for all of the following mixing and kneading steps.

1) Mix all the dry ingredients together.

2) Put the malt syrup, treacle and fat in a small saucepan and warm gently till they melt together.

3) Add the water and malt mix to the dry ingredients and mix till all are incorporated, scraping down the bowl as necessary.

4) The mixture will be quite sloppy, but knead it for about 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl and dough hook every minute or so.

5) You should have about 1500gr of wet dough, scoop it into two buttered loaf tins (mine are 21X10X5cm) and smooth off. The tins should be about 2/3 full.

6) Prove. Mine took the best part of 2 hours to rise to the rim of the tins.

7) Heat the oven to 180 degrees C and put a tray of boiling water in the bottom. Bake the loaves for about 35-40 minutes.

8) Check they are cooked to your liking (mine were a bit well done on the crust). Turn out onto a rack and cool (if you can wait that long) - Enjoy!

Anyone know how to achieve a soft crust?



There are some ideas on how to achieve a soft crust here.

For the non-metric, here is an translation into baker's percentages and imperial (sorry, I just don't do cups!):-

  •   100% / 1bl Malt Loaf Bread Flour
  •   50% / 8oz raisins
  •   50% / 8oz sultanas
  •   16% / 2.5oz malt syrup
  •   16% / 2.5oz treacle / molasses
  •   1% / 1tsp salt
  •   1.5% / 1.5tsp dried yeast
  •   16% / 2.5oz butter / sunflower spread (Flora)
  •   50% / 8fl oz warm water

The tin is 10X4X2 inches (to the nearest half inch)

I made some Hot Cross Buns at the same time, so my family is complaining of carb overload! I'll have another go next week, incorporating some of the soft crust ideas.

pjaj's picture

I started a thread on the Ingredients forum here about obtaining malt flour. There have been a few suggestions, but nothing really practicle for the small quantities I need, until someone from Wessex Mill posted asking what I wanted.

I replied yesterday (Friday) and expect that he will let me know if they are prepared to help early next week.

pjaj's picture

Time has passed and I've just had another go at making a sticky malt loaf based on the previous recipe, but with additions suggested in other threads.

First I would like to thank the manager of Wessex Mills, Richard Sampford. He trawls the internet to find mentions of his company's products and found mine. He kindly sent me a sample of Extratone which is a non diastatic malt flour malted from barley by a company called Edme. I must emphasise that this was a one off sample for me; please please do not pester Richard or Wessex Mills for further samples.

Edme are a major player in the malt industry in the UK and make many different malt products for the baking and catering industrty. Richard believes that Soreen use an Edme product called Stickymalt, but this is not available to the general public, and Wessex Mills do not use it. Needless to say the actual Soreen recipe is a closely guarded secret.

Back to the malt bread.

I substitutes 150gr of the Malt Loaf Bread Flour with the pure malt flour from the sample.

I increased the malt syrup from 80 to 150gr and the treacle from 80 to 120gr.

I added one egg and reduced the water to 150ml.

The fruit, salt, fat and yeast remained the same.

Try as I might, the resultant dough just wouldn't rise one bit! I presume that was because the sugar content was too high. Nevertheless, bearing in mind that Soreen is a very dense loaf that has little sign of rising, I covered the top of the tins with aluminium foil and baked them for 45 minutes. The egg and the foil covering were to try to keep the crust as soft as possible.

As might be expected, the result was very dense, but the flavour was about as close to Soreen as I am likely to get without access to their Stickymalt. It was sticky, but not as sticky as Soreen.

I have enough of the sample left for one or two further experiments.

Monica's picture

Thanks for all your dedication to this effort.  I have given up on trying to achieve what I remember.  I will settle for "other" loaves instead.  Reason: I can't get the malt flour, etc. and it isn't worth the effort without having THE recipe, so, on to other loaves.  When I LIVED in the UK (Many moons ago) I took a class with a Master Baker.  I have a malt loaf recipe from him and I will settle for that, maybe adding chopped dates and some malt sryup, which I do have.  BUT.... I haven't been baking because I am on a fitness program at the moment.  Moving more, a lot more, and eating less, and sad to say, no breads at the moment:-(  Thanks everyone!  (I'll settle for cream scones!)  Monica

qahtan's picture


 If you live near Wantage there is Clarks Mill, and they do/did blend the right stuff to make the right malt loaf, it's called Sultanex. I brought some back to Canada with me from the last trip I made to UK. There is a recipe on the bag, also my friend said to add a small amount of chopped dates to the recipe makes it yum yum better. :-)))

 but rather than go hog wild with the sultarnex I reduced it down a bit with regular flour.  The British import shops in southern Ontario some times have Soreen, but I didn't think it as wonderfull as it used to be.    qahtan

I do have a recipe

pjaj's picture

Yes, I know Clarks mill, I've been there. It now trades as Wessex Mill. I don't think they make Sultanex any more, but maybe it's what they sell as their Malt Loaf Flour which is a blend.

Would you post your recipe here please?