Thursday, 17 March 2016

Vegan Malt Loaf

Malt extract is a sticky syrup like ingredient that is derived from barley. It has a sweet (but not too sweet) and rather unique taste that can be used as a replacement for sugar in most recipes.

I confess to being slightly addicted to all things malt flavoured at the moment. It is particularly good for sweetening hot chocolate, but of course it is really best showcased in this delicious British classic; malt loaf.

Malt extract has been enjoyed traditionally in the UK for generations, especially during the war when it was used as a popular children's supplement to keep colds at bay and energy levels up. While I'm not so sure it actually will keep those colds at bay, it definitely contains some nutrients (mainly B vitamins) and makes for a wiser choice than regular refined sugar. Plus its tastes amazing!

This sticky, chewy loaf is the perfect tea time treat. Like a good fruit cake, the flavours and texture will develop and improve over a couple of days. So if you can resist the delicious smell when you take it out the oven, then leave it to cool, wrap it up in a little greaseproof and set aside for a day or two before enjoying. It goes wonderfully with a mug of steaming hot tea.

Malt Loaf
1 cup of sultanas
150ml hot, strong earl grey tea
125ml malt extract, plus 1 for glazing
1 tbsp black strap molasses
2 tbsp coconut palm sugar
125g spelt flour
125g wholemeal spelt or einkorn flour
100g oat flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Centigrade.

Grease and line a 2LB loaf tin (mine is 24.5 x 14.5 x 7cm) with greaseproof paper, and set aside while you make the mix.

Soak the sultanas in the tea together in a bowl for 15 minutes until the sultanas have absorbed some of the tea and are juicy and plump.

Stir in the malt extract, black-strap molasses and coconut palm sugar, mixing until well distributed.

Sift in the flours, baking powder, bicarb and sea salt and gently mix with a wooden spoon.

Transfer to the loaf tin, and bake for an hour until cooked. Keep a close eye on it as it can burn easily; you may need to cover the top with greaseproof toward the end of cooking to prevent over browning.

Test that it is done by inserting a cocktail stick into the centre, if it comes out clean, it's ready!

When the loaf is done, lightly brush the top with a little more malt extract, and then leave to cool.