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Malted Date Loaf

A white plate with buttered malt loaf

If you don’t like sultanas in your malt and loaf, but you do love that delicious malty flavour, then this recipe is for you.  I’ve been developing this recipe off and on for a while. Finally I’m happy with it, and very excited to share.

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It has all the flavours of a sticky malt loaf and more.  So, if sultanas are not your thing, try this one with dates! 

Sliced malt date loaf on a blue plate.
Malted date loaf on a plate

I like to mash the dates, but for those that like the flavour but not the texture, you can keep them in chunks, I think I prefer the chunks, but I can relate to those that don’t. 

Let’s talk about the equipment

I used a non-stick loaf pan for this recipe.  The measurements are 25.4cm x 12.7cm x 7.6cm. This tin will hold 1 litre of water with a 1 cm gap at the rim.  If yours is something like that it will be fine.

A close up of the ingredients I use and why

  • Chopped dates & Bicarb soda: You’ll see the combination of dates and bicarb in many baking recipes.  Have you ever wondered why?  I always chop my dates in half, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found a seed in a bag of pitted dates.  They’re sneaky teeth breakers, cutting them in half is a quick way to find them. With that out of the way, bicarbonate of soda is used to soften your dates and help them break down. It will help to keep them in suspension throughout your loaf, rather than having them sink to the bottom.  Leave this step out at your peril.
  • Unsalted butter soft: If you’ve been following me for some time, you’ll know I only use unsalted for baking and cooking.  This gives me complete control over what salt is added. 
  • Flaked salt: I use Pink Murray Salt Flakes.  LOVE THEM.  No, they’re not paying me to say this.  I actually love them.  Why are they not at our supermarkets???  1 whole tsp of flaked salt or halve it for fine salt. Salt heightens the flavour of this amazing loaf. 
  • Brown sugar: The brown sugar sweetens and helps provide the loaf with more stickiness. 
  • Boiling water & Malt: We add the boiling water and malt at the start to activate the bicarb and soak the dates.  Start by boiling the jug and pour it over the malt to loosen it up.  
  • Eggs: I use free-range.  Large or extra large will work here just fine. 
  • Vanilla: You know I make my own extract, good quality here will give you a good quality loaf.  
  • Plain Unleached flour and Baking Powder: When mixed together, these two ingredients will give your cake lift.  I don’t buy self-raising for home, I just make my own on the fly if a recipe calls for it.  We talk about making self-raising flour in Bake Club, the ratios, the why’s and hows.
  • Pecans, chopped in half: I chop them in half because I like to see chunks. The halves make them lighter and stay in suspension throughout the loaf better.  You could also use walnuts or another kind of nut; however, I love pecans. 

The process of making my malt date loaf

If you use a Thermomix or stand mixer, the method is similar. 

  1. First up, get your tin prepared.
  2. Next, you need to sort your dates. Cut the dates in half to find those sneaky little pips. Set them in a bowl.
  3. Combine the first part of the batter by adding the boiling water, malt, bicarb, butter, brown sugar and salt.  For Thermomix owners, I’ve changed this step a bit, so just follow the recipe I’ve provided. Your TM is made for jobs like this. Basically you just mix all these ingredients together and allow it to sit and cool for at least 10 mins.  The order in which you do it will help.  For the stand mixer, I’ve opted to start with boiling water, then add the malt to combine, sprinkle the bicarb over the dates then pour over the hot water. Mix, and add the remainder of the ingredients in this batch (butter, brown sugar and salt).  Mix them well and allow the dates to soften for around 10 minutes.  When 10 minutes have elapsed, you can break up the dates with a fork or potato masher (or maybe just leave them chunky).
  4. Use this time to mix your flour and baking powder together and chop your nuts.  Set these aside and turn on your oven.
  5. When the date mix has cooled for and the oven is at temperature, continue on by adding the eggs and vanilla and mix.  Then add in the flour/baking powder and mix.
  6. Lastly, add in the pecans, and fold them through.  
  7. Pour the mix into the prepared tin and set it on the centre shelf of your oven
  8. Bake for 30 minutes then add a tented baking paper-lined foil cap and bake for a further 20 to 30 minutes.

 FAQ

How can you tell if your Malt loaf is cooked?

If you have an instant-read thermometer it should read 95°C (200°F) in the centre or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Why has my loaf sunk in the middle?

There are so many possible answers to this one. 
1. The cake wasn’t quite cooked enough when you removed it from the oven. 
2. The sides of the loaf cook faster than the middle, in some cases, the sides can overcook and become tough whilst the centre is still soft.  I suggest you wrap your tin with a cake band.  Here’s a link for Wilton cake bands but you can make your own in the size you want.  This is one of the things I show you how to do in my Perfect Cakes Course under the Flat Topped Cakes section
3. Raising agent problems. Either too much-raising agent or not allowing the first raising agent (bicarb) in the dates to do its job and deflate before going on. We’re adding two amounts of raising agent to this recipe, it’s important to give the first part enough time.  When you add the hot water to the bicarb in the first stage you’ll notice it will foam up heaps.  As it does its job and cools it will deflate. You must wait for the first stage to complete or you’ll find your loaf will tend to sink on cooling.  
4. Too much liquid can also cause sinking. 
5. Not enough egg or flour, as these help with structure.

Can you toast a date loaf?

Sure, if you like.

How can I best serve my malt date loaf?

Try with butter, or my dad would add butter and a slice of tasty cheese.  Don’t judge him, try it first.  It’s delish.  Wait a second, I’ll be back with you after a quick snack break.  ??

Why do you use a baking paper-lined foil cap?

This is one of those things every baker should know and I teach in my courses.  The baking paper stops sticking, the foil makes it easy to fold and mold to the shape you want.  The cover will stop the top from burning as the cake continues to cook and it keeps the moisture in.  Perfect don’t you think?

Alternative recipes to try

A white plate with buttered malt loaf

Malted Date Loaf

4.60 from 5 votes

5 stars tells us you love the recipe

becs-table.com.au
I think this is the best sticky date loaf I've developed. If your childhood was like mine, you'll love these flavours. I think my Nan would be proud of this one.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Difficulty Medium
Course Afternoon Tea, Morning Tea, Snack or Dessert, Sweet
Cuisine British
Servings 10
Method Thermomix and Conventional

Equipment

  • 1 Thermomix (optional)

Ingredients
  

  • 220 g Dates Chopped in half
  • 1 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • 100 g Boiling water
  • 100 g Malt extract
  • 60 g unsalted butter soft
  • 1 teaspoon flaked salt or 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 150 g brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract 10g
  • 200 g Plain Unleached flour (all purpose)
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 120 g Pecans chopped in half.

Instructions
 

Conventional Method:

  • Grease or line a 1 litre loaf pan.
  • Pop the jug on to boil
  • Chop the dates (making sure there are no pips left behind) and place them in a bowl with the baking soda.
  • Pour the boiling water into a small bowl or jug and add the malt extract to it. Stir well to combine. Then pour this over the date mix and stir. Now add the salt, brown sugar and butter, mix again, use a fork to mash the dates, then set this aside for at least 15 minutes. If you want the dates chunky just don't mash them.
  • Preheat the oven to 170°C fan (340°F fan)
  • Stir or mash your dates, leave them chunky or mash to hide them throughout the mix.
  • Add the flour and baking powder to a bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Add the egg, vanilla, to the date mix, then fold in the flour mix and finally, stir through the nuts.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 30 mins, then cover the top of the tin with a baking paper-lined foil cap. This will help prevent the top bowning and keep moisture in. Continue to bake until the centre is cooked, approximately 20 – 30 minutes 95°C (200°F) or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • After removing from the oven, allow it to sit for 10 – 15 mins with the foil cap still on. Then remove from the tin and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
  • Just like bread, allow to cool completely before slicing.
  • I like to serve this with a spread of salted butter. YUM

Thermomix Method:

  • Grease or line a 1-litre loaf pan. Set the oven to 180°C
  • Add flour and Baking powder to the TM bowl MC in, mix for 3 seconds/speed 6. Remove from the bowl and set aside.
  • Weigh in the water, malt, dates, bicarb, brown sugar, butter and salt set 5 minutes/100c/speed 2. This method will break up the dates a bit so they’re evenly distributed throughout the batter. *If you want date chunks throughout the loaf see my tips.
  • Remove the lid and allow this mix to cool for 10 – 15 minutes
  • Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix for 5 seconds/ speed 3
  • Add in the flour/baking powder and mix for 5 seconds/speed 3
  • Scrape down and weigh in the chopped pecans and mix for 10 seconds/reverse speed +3
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 30 mins, then cover the top of the tin with a baking paper-lined foil cap. This will help prevent the top bowning and keep moisture in. Continue to bake until the centre is cooked, approximately 20 – 30 minutes 95°C (200°F) or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • After removing from the oven, allow it to sit for 10 – 15 mins with the foil cap still on. Then remove from the tin and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
  • Just like bread, allow to cool completely before slicing.
  • I like to serve this with a spread of salted butter. YUM

Notes

Saunders Malt Extract is available from most supermarkets.  It looks like this. 
Image of a tin of saunders malt extract
I always say this, but I think it’s important.  Read the whole recipe before you start.  It’s a lot easier when you know what is coming up. 
Line or grease your loaf tin.  Mine is non-stick, so I’ve done neither, but you have to know your tins well.  If you’re not sure, line it.  It will prevent fails. 
Chop your dates in half to find the pips.  2 mins of your time saves costly dentist bills.  
For Thermomix owners:  If you want to have some date chunks in your loaf, At the step where you add the water, malt, sugar, bicarb hold back the chopped dates and add them in after the TM has don’t the 5 minutes/100c/speed 2. fold the dates in here and leave the mix to sit for 10 – 15 mins as stated in the recipe.
Close up of sliced malted date loaf showing the date chuncks
 

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10 Comments

    1. No, unfortunately, you won’t get the same results. Most supermarkets sell some brand of liquid malt in their baking aisles. We have Saunders here in Australia. 😉

  1. I’m going to try this recipe but it will take a lot to convince me as I’m in love with your old malt loaf recipe! I’ve convinced myself it’s really healthy and I can eat as much as I want slathered in butter!?

  2. Looks fantastic! Can I ask what malt powder do you use? Not sure what to look for in the supermarket

      1. Thankyou , the supermarket gave the hubby a right royal runaround and he came home with a nestle powder for milk drink

        1. Dam, If you have my Cookie 2 course or Cookie 2 eBook, you’ll still be able to use all that up. I developed a recipe for strawberry malted cookies that’s soo yummy. other than that, it makes a nice drink before bed. 😉 My nan used to make Horlicks every night. That’s an English malted milk powder. Great memories.

4.60 from 5 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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