CAKE IN THE HOUSE
Mild beer, tea and dried fruit combine in this rich malt loaf, redolent with childhood memories. Try it toasted or simply sliced but, either way, don’t stint on the butter.
MAGNIFICENT MALT LOAF Makes a 900g (2lb) loaf
75ml strong, cold black tea 75ml mild beer such as Moorhouse’s Black Cat or Rudgate Ruby Mild*, plus 25ml to finish 150g raisins 150g dried prunes, chopped into raisin-sized chunks Unsalted butter, for greasing 175g malt extract, plus 4 tbsp extra for finishing 85g dark muscovado sugar (must be muscovado, accept no substitutes) 2 large eggs, beaten 100g wholemeal flour 150g plain or spelt flour 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 2½ tsp baking powder 1 In a saucepan, gently heat the tea and beer until bubbles just start to break the surface. Add the dried fruit, remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand for 15 mins.
2 Preheat oven to 150C/Fan 130C/Gas 2, making sure the shelf is in the middle. Grease and line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with an oversized piece of lightly dampened and scrunched baking parchment.
3 Stir the malt extract and sugar into the beer and fruit mixture until the sugar is fully dissolved. Still stirring, add the beaten eggs.
4 In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring vigorously until well blended, then leave to stand for 15 mins.
5 Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 50 mins, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. The loaf is likely to look a bit collapsed but don’t worry, it’s part of the character.
6 Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 mins in its pan on a wire cooling rack.
7 While the cake is still cooling, warm the finishing malt extract and extra 25ml beer together in a saucepan over a low heat. Don’t allow it to boil. Remove from the heat. Poke holes into your loaf with a skewer and brush the cake liberally with the malt and beer mix, allowing each application to seep into the holes. Leave to cool.
8 Lift the cake out of the tin, still in its baking parchment. Wrap it in more baking parchment and then tightly in cling film. If you can manage it, leave in a cool, dark place for at least three days before enjoying. Recipe from The Beer Kitchen by Melissa Cole (Hardie Grant). Photography: Patricia Niven