Sticky Date and Banana Malt Loaf

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.

Vanilla Malt Cake with Mocha Buttercream

Vanilla Malt Cake with Mocha Buttercream

This recipe is not yet gluten-free

I have been holding onto this Vanilla Malt Cake with Mocha Buttercream for a while as it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.  That is not to say that it wasn’t delicious.  The cake was extremely moist and full of malty vanilla flavour and the buttercream was lusciously thick and creamy without being too sweet.  However, it wasn’t the cake I had planned and like every excellent workman before me, I blame my tools.

Vanilla Malt Cake with Mocha Buttercream | Stroud Green LarderNamely, my 1M piping tip which has obviously been through the mill once too often since over the years one of his little teeth has become slightly crooked which I found out in the middle of decorating this cake.  Due to his slight imperfection it was rendering every malted buttercream rose into a mangled earthworm.  It leads me to a very excellent point that if you are going to mess up some carefully piped buttercream then the rose is very easy to scoop up with a small palette knife and pop back into the top of the piping bag without damaging the crumb coat underneath.  However, this tip is only any good if it is you who have messed up the application of the rose, if the issue is with the piping tip then the situation is not going to improve no matter how many times you pipe that damn rose back on… is what I wish someone had told me.  I stubbornly persevered until I barely had any malted buttercream left before I decided to swap the tip for one that worked and so was left to fill in the blanks with mocha roses.  You see, totally the piping tip’s fault and in no way mine.Vanilla Malt Cake with Mocha Buttercream | Stroud Green Larder

Now, the dramatic look I was going for was beautiful straight mocha sides, pouring forth with bright white malted vanilla buttercream roses on top.  That was the dream.  The result was pretty enough but it did impact the flavour a little as the malted buttercream flavour didn’t come through as much as I wanted it to and this is why I have put off sharing it.  But when my husband asked me yesterday why I hadn’t included it in my blog yet and I explained my reluctance he said I was stupid as it was delicious.

So please learn from my mistakes, if you have a faulty piping tip do buy a new one and don’t presume it will fix itself midway through your precious piping work.

Vanilla Malt Cake with Mocha Buttercream | Stroud Green Larder

Vanilla Malt Cake with Mocha Buttercream

160g plain flour
2 tbsp cornflour
3 tsp baking powder
185ml milk, at room temperature
4 egg whites
1 vanilla pod
3 tbsp horlicks
285g caster sugar
½ tsp salt
135g unsalted butter, at room temperature

  1. Grease two 18cm cake tins and pre-heat oven to 180°C.
  2. Sift together the flour, cornflour and baking powder at least 3 times so everything is very well mixed. This is important to keep the cake light. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the milk, eggs whites and vanilla lightly in a jug then set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, or an electric mixer set onto a slow speed, beat together the flour mixture, horlicks, sugar and salt.
  5. Add the butter and continue beating at a slow speed until the mixture looks like wet sand (If you’re doing this by hand, sift the dry ingredients together and rub in the butter).
  6. Add ¾ of milk mixture and beat at medium speed until just incorporated. Add the remaining milk mixture and beat until just incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary. Do not overmix.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake tins then bake for 20-25 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Let the cakes cool in the tins for 15 mins before removing. Leave to cool completely before frosting.

Basic French Buttercream:
8 large egg yolks
Pinch of salt
340g unsalted butter, room temperature, cooled
225g caster sugar
4 tbsp water
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Mocha Buttercream:
80g milk chocolate
100g dark chocolate
1 tbsp instant coffee mixed into 2 tbsp boiling water

For the Malted Buttercream:
3 tbsp Horlicks

  1. Add the yolks and pinch of salt to the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk on high speed using the whisk attachment until pale and thick.
  2. Then make a sugar syrup by combining the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over a gentle heat. When the syrup reaches the softball stage, about 114°C, remove from heat.
  3. Immediately pour the sugar syrup into the egg yolks, mixing on a low speed.
  4. Once all the syrup has been incorporated, beat on high speed until the mixture has cooled to room temperature and has thickened.
  5. When the mixture and the bowl are at room temperature, switch to the paddle attachment and beat on a slow speed. You can now start adding the butter, one cube at a time. Towards the end of adding the butter the mixture may start to look slightly curdled, don’t worry this will happen but by the time all the butter has been added the buttercream will have come back together.
  6. Once all the butter has been added and the mixture is a thick smooth buttercream consistency add the vanilla extract.
  7. Remove ⅓ of the buttercream and place in a separate bowl, this will become the malted buttercream, the remaining ⅔ will become the mocha buttercream.
  8. Melt 250g of milk chocolate in 2 tablespoons of hot coffee. Stir to combine and cool to room temperature. Add to the ⅔ portion of the buttercream and beat well.
  9. To the ⅓ portion of the buttercream, add the Horlicks and beat well.
  10. Use the mocha buttercream for the crumb coat, the middle of the cake and the sides. Use the malted buttercream for piping roses on top of the cake.