Recipe: Short cut to a malt loaf

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Indy Lifestyle Online
STRICT bakers will tell you that any loaf involving more than flour, yeast, salt and water is a cake. Some bakers, such as myself, eschew even commercially prepared yeast. This loaf, for the last of our afternoon tea series, is unabashedly cake-like and endorses the ultimate short cut: a product called Easybake Yeast.

Rosalind Riley of Cranbrook, Kent, is not worried about bakers' fetishes; she just wanted a malt loaf that was 'bready, caramel-coloured and well flavoured'. She searched dusty cookbooks, her Beeton and modern writers. Finally, her mother gave her a copy of a Boots Country Cooking Diary. She receives a 1lb tin of Darjeeling Best from the Algerian Coffee Stores in London.

Malt Loaf

Yield: 2 1lb loaves

Ingredients: 1.5lb (750g)

strong white flour

1tsp salt

1oz (25g) butter

1 sachet (7g) dried yeast

1oz (25g) caster sugar

1 egg

1/4 pint (145ml) milk

1/4 pint( 145ml) warm water

2tbs malt extract

1tbs black treacle

4oz (110g) sultanas, raisins or chopped dates

Preparation: Crack the egg into a measuring cup and top it up with milk until it reaches 1/4 pint. Combine flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Rub in fat. Mix in the eggs, milk, warm water, malt extract and treacle. This can be done by forming a well in the flour mix on the counter, or in a large bowl.

Once it reaches a workable consistency, knead on a lightly floured board until elastic, about 10 minutes. Towards the end of kneading, add the dried fruit. Leave to rise in a warm place in a lightly oiled bowl covered with clingfilm or a moist tea towel until it doubles in size. This will take one to two hours, depending on the room temperature.

Tip dough out of bowl on counter, halve, knock down and form into two loaves. These can be baked in tins, in which case they should be left to rise a second time in the tin, or as round loaves. Cover so the dough does not dry out and leave to rise for another 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Quickly and lightly slash top of loaf with razor. Lower temperature slightly and bake for 35 minutes, or until loaves give a good hollow sound when tapped. Cool on rack. For those who like glazed loaves, Ms Riley suggests a sugar-water mix.

Next week, the first of our pate recipes. Address them to: Emily Green, Recipe, the Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB. Those whose recipes we print will receive Alain Brumont's Pacherenc du Vic Bilh Octobre 1991, a late-picked Jurancon-style wine imported by Reid Wines, near Bristol.