The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Malt Loaf

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Malt Loaf


 

As a Briton I have been encouraged by TFL posts in which British foods from Bermaline to barm bread, scones to muffins to malt loaf appear as objects of desire rather than derision!  Having been teased for years by European friends about the state of food in Britain this is a strange position to be in. Please do keep the cake love coming - it helps to heal the scars!
Surely memories of tea time treats prompt a wish to recreate certain breads and cakes among those who have lived in Britain for a spell. However I'm sure we also have ambassadors like Nigel Slater and Dan Lepard to thank for spreading British cake love abroad. Although not chauvinistic in their tastes they've given the best of British baked goods a positive press. I'm with Nigel when he states that while they lack the finesse of French and Austrian patisserie and viennoisserie, there is something about the heartiness of British cakes and sweets that appeals.

And yet, while I consider good tea and cake a top treat when out and about, I rarely bake sweet goods at home. One bag of sugar can last literally years in our house. Occasionally someone calls who has sugar in their tea. We take the sugar out of the back of the cupboard, shake the crystals off, dole out a couple of teaspoons and then put it back again for months. Thank goodness sugar doesn't go off!

This is a long term thing. Sugar used to last a long time in my family home too. My mother baked little as my father much preferred savoury foods. I do remember some cake baking sessions in which I eagerly stirred the pots in anticipation of licking 'em afterwards. I took in some of the method but also remember pleading for more to be left in the bowl for the small assistant to lick. It was a precious time but it wasn't a comprehensive introduction to baking.

However in the spirit of thinking positively about British baking I decided to bake a malt loaf. This is a cake I do remember eating as a child. Although it was never baked at home I remember friends and neighbours making it. The version they made was moistened with tea, which is why I chose the adaptation of a Gary Rhodes recipe , also flagged up on this thread. The formula is also high in malt which I think is vital to reproducing a good, malty loaf. chunkeyman has also posted a very similar recipe, inherited from his grandparents on this thread.

The recipe worked extremely well. The gooey batter was very easy to mix and the cake baked well. I didn't have whole wheat self raising flour, which is what the recipe calls for, so added two teaspoons of baking powder and .75 of a teaspoon of salt to 175g of whole wheat flour. The loaf didn't rise much in the tin so I may add more baking powder next time. However, as I remember it this type of loaf doesn't normally have much oven spring and has a flat top. I used Lady Grey tea to add the extra flavours of citrus and bergamot. As this type of tea can brew quite slowly when made with tea bags I used two bags to add strength. I imagine it would be even more aromatic if made with leaf tea. The baking time was around 1.25 hours. I'm not sure how well such a sticky cake would freeze but I think if it does freeze it would be more economic to batch bake this recipe. As the oven was only required to hold the heat at Gas Mark 1(250F, 120C), I didn't use the oven stone for this bake.

The loaf emerged from the oven well cooked and beautifully golden. It was hard not to dive into it straight away. However it definitely improved when kept for a couple of days before eating, wrapped up and in an airtight container,  After being stored the texture of the loaf had changed and all of it was suffused with a malty gooeyness which was delicious. The crumb was dense, moist and malty with a hint of spice and a good distribution of fruit. It was lovely with a cup of tea and a slick of unsalted butter.

Comments

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Daisy,


which kind of malt did you use? The barley malt syrup that is generally used to turn on yeasts:) or some kind of beer?


I guess it must be a very aromatic a scented bread!

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi nico,


It's called 'malt extract' but I think it is the same as barley malt syrup. Not beer this time ;-) Yes it is quite aromatic!


Kind regards, Daisy_A

plevee's picture
plevee

How did the taste and texture compare to the malt loaves we used to buy in the UK? 


Patsy

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Patsy,


Thanks for the message. I'm still U.K. based so can buy loaves like Soreen etc. I would say that it compared well, but that it is absolutely necessary to leave it for a few days to let the malt infuse the whole loaf. There is far more malt in this than some other recipes and I do think that helps to give the strong flavour and sticky 'mouth feel' of a typical British malt loaf. I remember tea being a key ingredient in traditional home recipes and think that also helps to develop the flavour. My husband thought it rich but not overpowering.

However I also think that each person's expectation of the ideal malt loaf will be different,  so what I think authentic might not fit another baker's tastes! I do think the recipes flagged up are worth at least one try, though.

Kind regards, Daisy_A

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Your bread looks very nice, Daisy.


To give your British food some support:


In elementary school my best friend Margaret had an English mother. Not only were her birthday parties highlights (I took them as role models for my own kids' birthday parties), but Margaret's Mom made a cake I could hardly bring myself to stop eating, a vanilla icing covered mound with one layer of chocolate inside, that she decorated with a paper cut sled and little pine trees. (Unfortunately Margaret's father was in the military and they moved away).


With 16 I stayed with my pen pal Jennifer's family in Birmingham. I loved it!


Waking up with a cup of tea brought to my bed in the early morning by her Dad. Having an English breakfast with bacon and eggs, sausages and tomatoes - something entirely new for me as a German. Going shopping with Jennifer's Mom in the morning and watching her making apple pie. I also liked lamb and yorkshire pudding and sandwiches with cheddar and chutney. The only thing I did not like was the taste of kidney in steak-and-kidney pie.


When I traveled through Britain as a student I never had bad food (I knew what I liked, and that included nearly always apple pie). In Devon I had High Tea with clotted cream and scones. Though I didn't care much for the soft white sandwich bread, there was enough good stuff around (did I mention apple pie?) to get by. And there were the many different cheeses - in every county another one to try - cheeses that never made it to the continent.


Karin

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Karin,


Thanks for your kind comments on the bread.


I'm glad also to hear of your good experiences with British food. Your friend's mother's parties do sound good. How sad they moved away.


I'm glad that your time in England was good. Devon cream teas, apple pie, fry ups for breakfast, different cheeses - you are right these are some of the best things!


Now I remember, although I've said we didn't bake much at home, my mother made a brilliant apple pie, lots of fruit and not so much sugar. My husband is great at fry-ups but one of the best I've had was in Yorkshire where the woman we were staying with went out and picked field mushrooms and fried them fresh for breakfast along with the other ingredients.  The thing is when we are in Germany we can't wait to have a more continental style breakfast with a range of beautiful whole grain breads!


Good to hear that you also enjoyed the cheeses. There are some fantastic British cheeses but successive governments and also shoppers haven't always supported our small producers. Thankfully there is a bit more support now. However I remember my mother really lamenting the loss of British cheese and apple varieties. I wasn't moved at the time - I just wanted to put on my blue jeans and play some rock music. I thought I had enough good things in my life without worrying about the destruction of the Kent apple orchards! Now I'm quite passionate about these things, go to cheese festivals, apple and potato days, plant heritage vegetables, so something must have sunk in.


We love international foods too though. My husband particularly likes German rye breads. We are mostly used to pumpernickel so I didn't realize until I started to read your posts how wide the range of delicious traditional German and Austrian breads is and how many more lovely seeded doughs there are. Thank you - it's been an education and they all look so delicious.


With best wishes,  Daisy


 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I always wonder why - with so many Americans claiming some German ancestors - not more of the breads came over here. I have several German bread baking books - most, of course, still using the same day technique, but it is easy to adapt those to better methods like overnight retardation, pre-doughs, stretch and fold etc.


I'm a very curious person (came with my profession as psychotherapist) and love trying new things. My best finds I will certainly post here. I'm so glad that I discovered this website, and that this kind of multicultural exchange is possible.


Karin

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Karin,


Yes I agree it's great to be part of a multicultural bread site. I do appreciate finding out about different bread traditions, including different national traditions.


It's also interesting to find out what people bake now and which breads they had as children. I'm really glad that although there was loads of fluffy white bread around when I was growing up we had tinned Hovis.


Good to hear you are curious about trying different breads - I look forward to seeing what you post on TFL.


Best wishes,  Daisy_A

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Daisy_A,


This is largely an observation on the food heroes hailing from the UK, ie Messrs Rhodes, Slater et. al.   It looks a lovely loaf, extremely well described, as always.   But I have a question for you to give thought to:


Why has the fruit in your loaf sunk?   How might you be able to stop this from happening?   I'm just highlighting this for interest, and to illustrate that these folks are top cooks, but often their baking knowledge may well be less than yours


I'll post on Bermaline as soon as possible, but it's been very hectic here of late


All good wishes


Andy 

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Andy,


Thanks for your kind comments.


Mmm, nothing gets past you does it, cyber baking tutor? I think the answer on the fruit front is mix the dry ingredients first and distribute the fruit in the flour before adding the wet ingredients. Or would you also do that the other way round - flour to liquid? Thing is I certainly did mix the fruit with the flour the second time I made the loaf and probably the first. Lack of fruit at the top of the photographed slice was due to other choices and wobbles in my spooning and photography techniques! 


I've never made a malt loaf before and I didn't realize it would remain flat in the tin. That's how inexperienced a malt loaf maker I am. I had read that fruit that is in the exposed top crust could burn so when I spooned in the top, middle of the loaf I put in batter without fruit in it, in case the top sprung open at that point. Now I realize that isn't necessary. I can't lay that at Gary Rhodes' door, however!


Also my earlier loaves were photographed to bits but I only had two photos of the inside of this one, the one above and the one below, which shows better fruit distribution but is much fuzzier. I took the one I used in bright sunlight out in the garden. I could hardly see through the viewfinder. I do remember thinking this doesn't show good fruit distribution - maybe I should take another crumb shot of a later slice, but then we er, just ate it all up! Rats, like I say, can't get anything past you!



 


However fair point re. the Rhodes recipe. I don't think it's his design, it's so like chunkeymonkey's I think he has taken a traditional version. However when I looked back it doesn't say to add the fruit to the dry ingredients first, but advocates an everything in together approach. If the first is the better practice I will update the blog to add that advice.Thanks for the feedback.


I'm with you on the remarks about contemporary cooks. I do think that the big names have done a lot to increase people's interest in cooking in general. However I also think that they cover too much ground to be able to exhibit strong skills and knowledge in all areas. I think publishers and other media play a hand in this also, pressing presenters into areas where they are not expert. Rick Stein last night on a particularly delicate French pastry was a case in point. It would have been so much better to have had a commentary from a pastry chef. Even I was bouncing up and down on my little seat going "It's like warka, why don't you point out the arabic parallels a bit more?" Sigh...As far as my own cookery library goes I don't buy general texts any longer, only books from writers who have specialized long term in one particular area.


Good to hear from you. Hope things get a little less hectic soon.


Kind regards, Daisy_A

Jay3fer's picture
Jay3fer

Daisy_A,


I'm curious - I've always thought Raisins and Sultanas were the same thing.  (I assumed sultanas were what we here in Canada call raisins).  Yet this recipe calls for 3oz of each.  What's the difference?  I grew up eating a malt bread here that is probably an imitation of a classic British flavour.  Many nostalgic ex-pats here!


Thanks!

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Jay3fer,

Sultanas and Raisins are sold as different items in the UK. They are slightly different sizes and Sultanas are generally a bit 'squishier', so they do give the final loaf a different mouth feel.

I looked this up on the Internet and there was quite a bit of debate about it! However folks coming from a Botanical background seemed to agree on the following information:

A raisin is a dried white grape, predominantly of the Muscatel variety. A sultana is a small raisin. They are seedless and sweet, and come mainly from Turkey. A currant is a dried red grape, originally from Greece.

Nevertheless, a poster on a Guardian thread said that what are called Sultanas in the UK are called Raisins in the US. Not sure about that. However a cook's got to use what is at hand. They are all dried grapes of one kind or another. Dried fruits made from red grapes might be a bit different to white, chewier maybe? However as long as the overall weight of fruit was the same, I think they could all be used. 

It's worth giving it a go, anyway. It's a nice recipe and is supposed to be one that tastes similar to the traditional UK malt loaf.

Kind regards, Daisy_A

 

Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

'Having been teased for years by European friends about the state of food in Britain', what do they know? Apart from anything else, it's very rude. 


Daisy, don't worry about this, they have just never had good English - or Irish, Scottish or Welsh - food. WE know it's the best! Especially British cheeses, nothing can compare with the quality or variety of them.


This family's sugar ration is much like yours ... if people come and want sugar in their tea or coffee they have to have honey.


As for the government's role in quality food production, the EU has more to say about what we're allowed to have or not. And the problem is that British officials obey the rules, unlike many European producers. It makes me very angry.


Mary

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Mary,


Thank you for your kind words. I must say I have some much more appreciative European friends now, who have been willing to try out and enjoy British foods.


The worst teasing was when I was younger and living with Europeans who were only here for a short time. Not that being in the UK for a shorter time is necessarily a barrier to enjoying the food, as Karin shows above. Thanks Karin! 


Probably I was sensitive and they couldn't find the things they were used to. I do remember travelling for miles when living in Spain just to get some Earl Grey tea. But I did begin to feel sad about it.


Still as well as appreciating other national foods,  I think it is worth encouraging more people, Britons and visitors alike, to relish British foods, including our great cheeses (as you say!), meats, fruits, vegetables, cakes and other good things. 


We go to Apple, Potato and Cheese days and I'm so glad to see some of the heritage varieties coming back, rather than just those given priority in much narrower European listings.


I also grow some heritage English peas in the garden that I got originally from Garden Organic (HDRA)'s Seed Library. The flavour is astonishing. All these would have been commonplace in our ancestors' gardens and I'm glad to be growing them again.


Really appreciated your post on honey on the other thread. Will need to seek out some good local honeys again.


Best wishes, Daisy_A


 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

you are right, Daisy - Sultanas are called usually just raisins in the US, (or golden raisins if they have been treated with sulfurdioxyde), they are seedless, and plumper and softer than other varieties.


In Germany Sultanas are either called Rosinen (raisins) or Sultaninen (Sultanas), and currants are "Korinthen".


Are you baking anything special for Christmas?


Karin

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Karin,


Funny you should mention that! I do bake traditional British Christmas puddings (yum). In fact one year we went mad and even made our own breadcrumbs and had so much to share we had to mix in a big, old enamel bread bin. We made it with vegetable suet for a party with friends who are vegetarian. It was lovely. Snow even fell.


However this year we are going to my husband's parents and my father-in-law, who is still deeply in love with his wife after many decades, will eat her pudding and fruitcake at Christmas and her's alone. They are good, I have to say. So I have made my first panettone ever! 


Had a lot of support for the test run. It was a good formula, which was a help for a novice sweet dough baker. Dough was lovely and silky. Even made my own peel! Am trying to blog on it now to pass on formula. 


Did I read you were making stollen? That is one of my favourite Christmas cakes! We can get stollen imported from Germany from our local wholefood cooperative :-). We normally get together with friends who are German and South Korean and they also have lovely stollen, sent from Germany by family.


Wishing you happy baking and a good Christmas season!


Daisy_A


     
Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

"I do bake traditional British Christmas puddings"


BAKE?


Not steam or boil??


I've never heard of a traditional English Christmas pudding being baked ...


Mary

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Thanks, Mary. You are right. Had put 'bake Christmas cake' then changed to 'pudding'. Was generally thinking of theme Karin gave of 'Christmas baking'.


I do steam it, in a pudding basin. Think I would normally steam for 8 hours or more.


Best wishes, Daisy_A

Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

Many English puddings ARE baked but Christmas pudding? Never!


Thanks for explaining!


Our No 1 (of ten) grandson is marrying the lovely Charlotte a week today, family members will stay here so there's a lot to do and no time for reading this wonderful resource, then it's Christmas and we go to Wiltshire (with a requested Christmas pudding) so I'm going to miss quite a lot of this forum. Can't you just shut down until 2010?


:-)


Mary

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Mary,


Will miss your posts too! Sounds like there are a lot of happy family festivities going on though.


Best wishes to the happy couple.:-)


Kind regards, Daisy_A