Malt Loaf — In Development (post #1)

This is a work-in-progress at the early stages. Tips, suggestions, replication challenges welcome!

Malt loaf is something you probably either love or hate.  If you’ve spent much time in the UK, you’ve probably encountered it and had the chance to become addicted or horrified.  It’s a sticky, chewy, dark dense bread with dried fruit (usually raisins) in it, served sliced with butter or margarine.

I’m attempting to replicate the Soreen Maltloaf.  We get it from the UK when we can, and fill the freezer, but there’s no US distributor that sells to stores, so our supply is limited. And it’s a sad day when we realize we’ve eaten the last one from the freezer.

My first try with this bread was a quickbread recipe, despite the Soreen version being a yeast bread. Ok. Lived, learned.  Here are some notes from that first attempt.

1. Select fruit.  I went with dried mission figs and dried cherries, about 150g, to make something similar to Soreen’s Lincolnshire Plum (which has no plums in it).

2. Make a pot of tea!! No, seriously!  I made about 75mL of very strong Rington’s black tea. This is to mix with the malt syrup to make it easier to mix, but I soaked the dried fruit in it first.

3.  Mix tea into 200g malt extract, and mix with 175g self-rising flour (1 c. self-rising = 1 c. AP + 1 1/4 t. baking powder + 1/8 t. salt), 1 egg, 1/2 t. mixed spice (I used a pumpkin pie spice blend), and the fruit.

4. Spray a 2# loaf tin with oil, pour batter in, and bake 75 – 90 minutes. Let stand at least 10 minutes before slicing (if you can stand it).

Outcome: It was tasty, but it wasn’t maltloaf.  Next time, I think I’ll try this recipe, which uses a combination of whole wheat and white flour, both malt extract and black treacle, and YEAST. And comes from the UK Flour Advisory Bureau, apparently.

Cheryl’s Monster Biscuits

(from Cheryl White)

Follow recipe on Bisquick box for Waffles – bisquick and milk, no oil. Mix and set aside.

3 c flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 c shortening

3 T baking powder (yes, that’s really 3 Tablespoons!!)

Mix and add to Bisquick and milk mixture. Stir. Knead in extra flour until it can be rolled. Pat it about 1.5-2″ thick. Cut and bake!!!

Cheryl came up with this recipe when her grand-daughter needed to make biscuits for 4H, and Cheryl only had a little bit oif Bisquick! Yummy!

Pizza Dough

My standby pizza dough recipe.  There are three containers of it in my fridge RIGHT NOW. This version makes three small (about individual-size) pizzas.

339 g unbleached AP flour, 1 t ea sugar, salt, and instant yeast (mix in yeast or salt first, though, to keep them from coming in contact with each other and the salt KILLING THE YEASTIES DEAD). 237 g water and a good splash of olive oil. Mix into a rough dough.

The beauty of this is that you can use it almost immediately, or leave it out on the counter for a few hours  (or days). Put it in the fridge for up to 3 days (any more than that, and the yeasties are exhausted, and the crust gets kind of airless).  If you use it immediately, the crust will be dense, but super-tender (don’t pile on the toppings).  If you wait a while, and knead it well, you’ll get more gluten formation, so more structure to support toppings.

Increase the water and roll out very thin, for a crispier crust (wetter dough = crispier crust)

You can sub in some cornmeal for the flour (gram for gram, but I wouldn’t go above 30 g), but then you must let it rest a day so that the cornmeal can soak up some water and soften. Otherwise, it seems to slice up the gluten, and you end up with a dough that won’t stretch or knead without tearing.

Bake it any way you like!  I’ve used a pizza stone, but usually I just build it on a pan with cornmeal underneath, and throw it in, and it’s still great.  The hotter, the better — I usually bake at 475-500.

nb: the recipe also makes great nearly-instant pita bread!!

ETA: This is a great freezer-stocking recipe!  Separate the dough into balls of about 200g, roll each out into a thin circle.  Lightly flour and place each on its own silpat or plate in the freezer for a couple hours. When frozen, place each in a gallon-sized freezer bag and store for up to 3 months!  Clean pizza boxes are excellent for storage, and will help keep them from getting broken. To use, simply brush off excess flour and place on a silpat or peel dusted with cornmeal.  Add sauce and toppings as desired, and bake at 450F until browned.

Anadama Cornbread

From Mother Earth News.  I keep hearing friends/tweeps/bloggersIfollow talk about this, and haven’t gotten around to making it yet.  But I might now!!  Sounds like it would be fantastic with chili, which we make almost weekly now that it’s cold.

Update 12/28/09 – made it!  And it’s super-yummy.  Dark and spongy and chewy. There’s definitely a hint of molasses flavor, but it’s not overpowering. Plus, the recipe makes a ton of bread!  I didn’t weigh the blob that I pulled off to bake, but it made a loaf about the right size for two of us for dinner, and there’s a TON left in the fridge, growing by the minute.

Mother Earth News says this is in pretty much every traditional American cookbook.

1.5 c. cornmeal
1/4 c. wheat germ
2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 T (2 packets) yeast
1 T. kosher salt (or to taste)
1/4 c. vital wheat gluten
3 1/2 c. lukewarm water
1/2 c. molasses

Combine all (dry to wet, but don’t let the yeast hit the salt directly). Rest until it rises and collapses again, about 2 hrs. Bake immediately, or refrigerate and use within 7 days.

I used the bread machine for this, due to a severe multitasking need, and it went ok.  The dough is quite thick, and I poked at it a couple times because I wasn’t certain the molasses was getting combined.  Next time, I’ll try the mixer instead.

When you’re ready to bake, dust surface with flour, cut off 1# piece, dust with flour and shape into a ball (stretched, not rolled). Rest 90 minutes (40 if you just made it).

Preheat oven to 450°F.  Brush top crust with water, and slash the top. Bake on a stone or on a silicone mat, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing.

Recipe on Mother Earth also recommends a technique used in the Bread Bible for many hearth breads: throwing a bit of water into the broiler pan (placed anywhere in the oven), and quickly shutting the door.  The steam, it is suggested, helps to keep the outer crust moist, allowing it to stretch during the early part of the baking. A handful of ice cubes works, as well.