Sticky Date and Banana Malt Loaf

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Sticky Date and Banana Malt Loaf

This recipe is not yet gluten-free

This was one of those spur of the moment bakes where I had all the ingredients in the house, took 10 minutes or so deciding how I wanted to bake it and then dove in.

Date and Banana Malt Loaf

Granted, I have been meaning to bake a loaf cake for a while. A dense fruity slice of Soreen slathered with double the amount of butter than loaf was one of my husband’s childhood teatime favourites. I bought the malt extract about six months ago in a bit to recreate his childhood memories, but without all those obnoxious preservatives.Date and Banana Malt Loaf

I think what had been putting me off for so long was that all the recipes I had read told me I should be using yeast, meaning you have all that pesky rising time which I have to be in the mood for, probably why I have never excelled at being a bread baker. Then after further research, whilst procrastinating a trip to Sainsburys, I discovered some internet bakers disregarded this stumbling block and made their loaves with baking powder. No sooner had I stuck two fingers up at tradition then I was in the kitchen chopping dates and warming my malt extract.

Date and Banana Malt Loaf

Since I never got round to making the yeasted version I can’t in all honesty tell you what the difference was. All I know is that this version rose gloriously in the oven to produce a familiar dark treacly loaf, intense with fruit and made all the better with the requisite lashings of salted butter. Most of the dates melted into the loaf mix and the banana was really added in lieu of butter which I didn’t think it needed. The fruit notes are therefore subtle, adding more to the texture of the finished result than the occasional burst of sweetness that adding sultanas or raisins might have done.

Date and Banana Malt Loaf

Whatever you do, you must restrain yourself from tearing into the bread as soon as it comes out of the oven as it only reaches its optimum consistency once it has been wrapped in greaseproof paper and matured for a couple of days after the bake. The longer your leave it the moister the loaf.

The jury is out on whether this is a fruity bread or cake, although I suppose the lack of yeast definitely lends it more of a cakey vibe. But the special thing about this bake is that it fits the bill whether you are craving a sweet or salty mid-afternoon treat. After carefully guarding the loaf for the past two days, once my husband had caught whiff of its presence, it is now waiting happily in its greaseproof paper, getting even more moist and delicious, ready for its ultimate taste test later this evening. I don’t think anybody is going to be disappointed.

Date and Banana Malt Loaf

Sticky Date and Banana Malt Loaf

150ml milk
125ml freshly brewed hot tea
180g medjool dates
1 banana, mashed
70g malt extract + extra for brushing
70g black treacle
375g plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soft dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 egg
1 tablespoon demerara sugar

  1. Mix together the milk and hot tea and add the chopped dates. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and grease and line a 9 inch loaf tin.
  3. Pour the malt extract and the treacle into a small saucepan and heat until runny but no more.
  4. Turn off the heat then add the mashed banana and the soaked dates along with all of the liquid into the malt and treacle.
  5. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, salt, dark brown sugar and baking powder
  6. Make a well in the centre and add the egg and the liquid ingredients.
  7. Bring the flour into the liquid ingredients then stir everything together well with a wooden spoon.
  8. Pour the batter into the baking tin, sprinkling the demerara sugar over the top. Bake the loaf for an hour, covering the top with foil half way through if it’s starting to over-brown on the top.
  9. When it’s ready, remove from the oven, turn out of the tin and cool on a wire rack.
  10. When the loaf is cold, brush the surface liberally with malt extract then wrap in greaseproof paper and foil and leave to mature for 2 days before eating so the loaf gets lovely and sticky.


  1. Interesting that you use malt, as malt is a biproduct of germinating barley, it has never been on our gluten free list? Maybe you are talking of something different as I am in Canada and perhaps the name suggests a different product. Anyway, great recipe, I will use honey instead of the malt and am sure I will get the nice darkness with the blackstrap molasses. It looks to be a sure favorite.

  2. Made this loaf last night and couldn’t wait two days! Just served it up with tea for the in laws – wow love it ❤️

  3. When you say malt extract do you mean liquid extract or Horlicks? I have used Horlicks (the add milk type) and my mixture is more bread like than a batter…. let’s see what it looks like in the next hour.

    • Hi Leigh-Ann, malt extract is a liquid extract which you buy in a bottle and is pure malt rather than a powdered drink like Horlicks which has other stuff added to it as well. You can get malt extract at most big supermarkets in the UK. The one I used is Rayners Essentials Malt Extract 340g. The recipe won’t be the same using Horlicks, it will definitely be drier without such a deep intense flavour. Also you won’t achieve the sticky surface on the loaf without brushing the malt extract on – but you can always substitute with honey.

  4. Luke Hartley says

    I’m so excited I nearly did a little clap of happiness at work. But crucially, didn’t…so credibility still intact. 🙂

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