All the credit for this recipe goes to Dan Lepard. I have to confess that I did make a few changes, as we all know cooking and baking are subjective, and I have adapted the original recipe to accommodate my taste.
I found the original recipe very rich and the treacle flavour was a bit too strong for me, especially when the loaf had been left to mature for a day. Nevertheless, it’s a superb recipe and I love Dan’s reference to this recipe being the original British ‘energy bar’.
We particularly enjoyed it toasted for breakfast with a thin scraping of slightly salted butter and a cup of good old builder’s tea. It’s the perfect way to start a busy and hectic day. I also felt less guilty about indulging in this loaf as it’s (sort of!) got the makings of a healthy product (shall we just turn a blind eye to the butter and golden syrup?!).
When I first read the recipe, I was baffled about malt extract as I had neither heard of nor used it. I was slightly unnerved as I did not know where to get it from or what I could use instead. I was determined to make this recipe as it was meant to be, so after a bit of internet research, I realised it’s a normal, regularly used ingredient. I found that our local health food shop stocks malt extract, so off I trotted to our town centre to buy a jar.
Dan’s recipe says that you can use raisins or prunes, so I decided on prunes as I’m not a great fan of raisins. I also chose to use St Peters Golden Ale and wholemeal flour that I had bought from the Snape farmers’ market. I liked the tip of lining the loaf tin with oats and I thought it gave my loaf the perfect professional touch. It looked well finished and also added to the final taste.
I also found that this loaf keeps well, and after a day or two, it’s even more delicious. I froze a few leftover slices and these come in very handy for toasting for breakfast. This malted prune loaf would also be lovely in a picnic basket at the beach, as it gives everyone extra energy to enjoy a swim in the sea.
Ingredients & Method
- 75g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 3 tablespoons rolled oats
- 125g golden syrup
- 1 tablespoon malt extract
- 75ml pale ale, such as St Peters Golden Ale
- 100g plain wholemeal flour
- 250g strong white bread flour
- a large pinch of table salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
- 150g ready-to-eat dried prunes, chopped
- 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4. Grease a 900g loaf tin with butter and dust it with half of the rolled oats.
Place the butter, golden syrup and malt extract in a small saucepan over a medium heat until melted and combined, then remove from the heat and whisk in the ale. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
Place the flours, salt, baking powder, mixed spice and prunes in a mixing bowl. Add the egg and the melted mixture, then stir together until just combined (don’t overwork the mixture). Transfer the mixture to the prepared loaf tin, levelling the surface, then sprinkle the rest of the oats evenly over the top.
Bake in the oven for 40–45 minutes or until risen and deep golden brown. Insert a metal skewer in the centre and if it comes out clean then the loaf is cooked; if not, return the loaf to the oven for a few more minutes until cooked.
Remove from the oven and leave the loaf to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Serve in slices with butter. Alternatively, lightly toast the slices, spread with butter and lightly sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Delicious!
To store, wrap the cold loaf in foil or non-stick baking paper and keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days. This loaf also freezes well for up to 1 month; simply defrost at room temperature overnight before serving.
Sultanas or chopped dried stoned dates instead of prunes also work really well in this recipe. Once the butter mixture is melted and the ale is added, stir in the fruit and leave to stand and cool for 10 minutes, then continue with the recipe as above.