I think regular readers know my feelings on malt. I go doollally for its dark and sticky charms whether it’s moist cakes or anything involving Veda bread. I like my beers black and I can even be swayed by the lighter malty treats like Horlicks. But one thing I’ve found over years of sampling, is that malt tastes even better when you warm it up slightly.
I got hold of some of that dark malt extract you see in health foods shops where it is sold as a virtuous alternative to granulated sugar. It made me wonder if I could take the warmth of toasted Veda or Soreen and basically serve it with custard instead of the usual slathering of salted butter? I thought I’d try and create dark dense malted steamed sponge pudding dotted with plump juicy dried fruit. I figured you couldn’t go wrong with such a combo.
And I was right. You couldn’t. In fact I went so right I created a sponge of such lightness it is even easier to eat than a whole loaf of Soreen to yourself. But I did discover that it is better to make this pudding and allow it to mellow in a tin for up to 5 days and then steam it again for just long enough to warm it through to get it to the right syrupy texture to go with custard. Apologies for making you wait. I promise it is well worth it.
Malt Loaf Steamed Pudding
- 250g dried fruit
- 100ml black tea or Supermalt to soak
- 115 g butter, at room temperature
- 100g dark brown sugar
- 2 eggs, whole
- 200g self raising flour
- 5 tablespoons dark malt extract
- 4 tablespoons milk
- 2 tablespoons tea or Supermalt
- 1 teaspoon gravy browning
- 3 tablespoons extra malt extract for the bowl
Soak the dried fruit overnight if you can or for at least 30 minutes in black tea or some Supermalt if you have it. Drain the fruit and reserve 2 tablespoons of the liquid for the pudding.
Grease a 1.1 litre pudding basin with butter and then dust with a small amount of flour. Pour 3 tablespoons of malt extract into the bottom. I use a plastic basin with a snap on lid because I cannot be faffed with pleating foil and making handles out of string. You may be more dexterous with both than I.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs in one at a time. The mixture may look slightly curdled. Don’t not panic.
Fold the flour in and then add the 5 tablespoons of malt extract and the drained dried fruit. Fold in and add the milk and reserved tea or Supermalt. Dollop in the gravy browning to darken the sponge to Soreen standards. Mix until just combined and the batter is light and puffy.
Pour into the prepared pudding basin. It won’t fill it completely which allows it space to expand while cooking. Snap the lid on firmly and then place the basin inside a string bag and tie the handles together with a bit of string. Place the whole thing into a large pot and pour boiling water into the pan until comes half way up the basin. Bring back to the boil and then reduce to a simmer with the lid on and steam for 3 hours, checking the water levels to make sure it doesn’t boil dry. Or put the bagged basin into the slow cooker, pour boiling water to the half way point, put the lid on the slow cooker and leave alone for 3 hours.
After 3 hours, snip the string from the handles of the bag and carefully use them to lift the basin out. Undo the lid and up end the pudding onto a plate. The extra malt extract will coat it. You could eat it now but it tastes more of Christmas pudding than malt. So instead put the pudding on the plate into a big tupperware or tin and leave for 5 days.
Slip it back in the basin and steam for 30 minutes as before for the stove or 60 minutes for the slow cooker. Or give it a few minutes in the micrwave if you can’t be bothered. Serve with lashings of custard.
The pudding is sticky and moist, but oddly not too sweet. The malt makes deeper than the simple sickly flavour of just sugar and the maturing stage allows the flavours to mellow. This was the best steamed sponge I’ve ever had. I look forward to making it again and eating it all winter…