Malt loaf

This is a traditional family recipe, slightly adapted by me, mainly to make it a bit less sweet. It’s not like that dark, claggy Soreen malt loaf that used to come wrapped in waxed paper; it’s much lighter and more cake-like, to the extent that it doesn’t need butter. In fact we have even had it for pudding with custard …

Finding malt extract was a challenge. Eventually a friend tracked some down for me in Holland and Barrett and posted it to me. Luckily the loaf doesn’t need much, so the jar will last a while.

450 g mixed dried fruit (I used sultanas, cranberries, and a few chopped dried apricots)
75 g butter
225 ml water
340 g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
200 g soft brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tbs malt extract

Preheat the oven to 140C (fan) and line two 1 lb loaf tins with baking parchment. Put fruit, water and butter into a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 mins, then leave to cool.

Measure the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar into a large bowl; add the cooled fruit mixture and mix well. Then add beaten eggs and malt extract and mix again thoroughly. Pour into the tins and bake for about 30 minutes before checking with a skewer — it may need another 15 minutes or so.

Cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then remove from tins and cool on rack. Delicious on its own or with butter. It freezes well.

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