Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Spiced Marmalade Loaf Cake

Marmalade cake with some warming spices and chopped nuts
These days much is said about using seasonal produce and going to back to foods of yesteryear. When it comes to seasonal foods people automatically think of fresh fruits and vegetables but this needn't strictly be the case. January is the month in which Seville oranges appear in our shops ready for making marmalade at home, however not everyone wishes to make marmalade at home. Many people may not have even tasted the wonderful orange bitterness of a thick-cut marmalade. Sales of marmalade have been in decline for some years now as chocolate spread and peanut butter are favoured by younger customers.

If you have been given a jar of homemade marmalade or received one in a Christmas hamper don't shove it to the back of the cupboard. Bring it out and enjoy it. If marmalade and toast isn't for you try it in this recipe for Spiced Marmalade Loaf Cake. The ground ginger and mixed spice in the recipe add flavour interest and are reminiscent of Christmas while the nuts give, what is a soft cake, texture.

For the almonds and walnuts you can buy them pre-chopped or blitz them in a food processor to get the size and texture of your choice. I line loaf tins with liners to save cutting out baking parchment and greasing it.

Click here for a printable recipe.

Equipment:2lb (1kg) loaf tin, Baking parchment (this will need to be greased) or loaf tin liners, Large mixing bowl, Extra baking parchment or foil to put on top of the cake to stop it burning, Skewer, Small saucepan.


8oz (225g) self-raising flour

1 tsp (5ml) baking powder

2 tsp (10ml) ground ginger

1 tsp (5ml) mixed spice

6oz (175g) soft light brown sugar

2oz (50g) chopped blanched almonds

2oz (50g) chopped walnuts

6oz (175g) softened, unsalted butter or baking spread

2 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten

4oz (115g) thick-cut marmalade

For the topping

1oz (25g) thick-cut marmalade

1tsp (5ml) water.


1. Line the loaf tin with either the greased baking parchment or tin liner.

2. Get your oven up to temperature to 180°C/Gas mark 4.

3. In the large mixing bowl sift the flour, baking powder, ginger and mixed spice.

4. Add the sugar, almonds, walnuts, butter or baking spread, eggs and marmalade to the bowl.

5. Mix well until all the ingredients are combined and then fill the tin with the mixture. Level the top of the cake mix.
6. Bake for 35 minutes and then cover the top of the cake with the baking parchment or foil to stop it browning too quickly.

7. Check the cake is thoroughly cooked by inserting the skewer into the middle to see if it comes out clean. If cake mixture is still on the skewer keep baking for 5 minutes intervals until the skewer comes out clean.

8. Once the cake is cooked take it out of the tin and put on a wire cooling rack.

9. In the small saucepan put the topping ingredients of marmalade and water.

10. Heat gently until the marmalade breaks down slightly.

11. Brush or spoon on the top of the cake and then leave to cool.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Malt Loaf - New Year but no excesses

Malt Loaf with some juicy sultanas
Once January hit us there are all sort of plans for improving one's lifestyle. Out of the all the resolutions the most popular must be to lose weight and to get fit. After the excesses of Christmas, not to mention the tins of chocolates and boxes of chocolates still lying about, it can be hard to give up on the sweet things to eat. For most people resolutions rarely don't make it through January. The combination of the cold weather, still short days and the feeling of little to look forward doesn't make for a great motivator. What you need is something like a cake but without the guilty fat feeling. For this the number one candidate is malt loaf.

Malt loaf remains a quintessentially British food. Many people state its origins to be in northern England however a patent for it was filed by a Scotsman in 1890. Ironically, the company best known for producing it commercially is based in Manchester, but is named after the Danish Sorensen family who once owned the company.

In recent years malt loaf has regained its popularity as a snack foods amongst athletes, particularly cyclists and runners. The low-fat, carbohydrate high nature of it gives a welcome energy boost during endurance events. If though you are not of such a sporty nature then a slice of malt loaf goes down well with a cup of tea at any time of day. Opinion is divided whether one should eat it plain or spread with butter. I have also read people eulogizing about how good malt loaf is if toasted or fried in butter. Personally, I am an au naturel girl but I'll leave it to you to experiment and decide how you like it best.

Malt Loaf

Makes 2 x 1lb (450g) loaves. The second loaf can be frozen if necessary. For reasons of ease and quickness I use loaf liners for the tins. The recipe needs cold tea so remember make that first! I use what is left over in the pot from my morning tea.

Click here for a printable recipe. 

Equipment:2 x 1lb (450g) loaf tins, baking parchment (this will need to be greased) or loaf tin liners, mixing bowl, large saucepan

8oz (225g) Plain flour
½ tsp (2.5ml) Bicarbonate of soda
1tsp (5ml) Baking powder
8oz (225g) Sultanas
2oz (55g) Demerara sugar
6oz (170g) Malt extract
1tbsp (15ml) Black treacle
2 Large, free-range eggs, beaten

¼ pint (150ml) Cold tea (no milk or sugar added!)


1. Get the two tins prepared by either lining them with greased baking parchment or pop in the loaf tin liners. 
2. Let the oven get up to temperature by pre-heating to 150°C/Gas mark 2.
3. In the mixing bowl weigh the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder.
4. Add the sultanas and then stir together.
5. In the large saucepan put the sugar, malt extract and black treacle and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.
6. Take the saucepan off the heat and pour onto the dry ingredients. Add the beaten eggs and the tea.
7. The mixture needs to be well beaten until smooth.
8. Spoon equal amounts of the mixture into the prepared tins.
9. The loaves will need about 1 hour in the oven or until well risen and firm to the touch.
10.Once the loaves are cooked let them cool for 10 minutes in the tins then turn out on to a wire rack to let them cool completely.
11. The texture of the malt loaves means they are best left for 2 days before eating, however this can prove to be very difficult!