Friday, 12 July 2013

Easy-Peasy Squidgy Loaf

Not exaggerating at all when I say this loaf is easy-peasy - once you've got the ingredients ready, all you really do is dump them all into a big bowl, give it a couple of stirs, then into a loaf tin and to the oven it goes. This is also, quite accidentally, perhaps the healthiest baked item to ever appear on this blog - no butter, no eggs, hardly any sugar, plenty of fibre. It makes me think of a homemade version of Soreen. That probably makes it sound like really boring, but well, it's not! It's packed full of flavour from the dried fruits, and goes especially well with butter. 

The inspiration for this came from baking buddy Yusuf, who has published the original recipe on his Snapguide thingo. It sounded so yummy and I was all proud of myself for getting a bag of coarse wheat bran to make it, then I got home and looked through the cupboard and realised I didn't have the essentials - stuff like self-raising flour, muscovado sugar and...oh yes, he also said 'bran flakes' not 'wheat bran'. Turns out I'm not very good at reading through something before jumping straight in. This is how accidents happen. 

Anyway, I was much too lazy to go back to the shops to get the right stuff - and doing things the 'right' way is so boring and I'm my own boss! - so I decided to make do. And it turned out pretty tasty if I say so myself. Just don't tell Yusuf. 
Squidgy Malt Loaf (inspired by Deco Reco's Raisin Malt Loaf)

300 ml milk*
200gms dried cranberries**
25gms candied ginger
150gms plain flour
pinch of baking powder
pinch of bicarbonate soda
100gms caster sugar***
50gms malt extract****
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
lemon zest and juice (optional)

- Preheat oven to 160 degrees. Grease and line a loaf tin.

- Into a large bowl, add the milk to the wheat bran and set aside for a few minutes so the bran soaks up some of the milk. Add  the cranberries and ginger to the mixture, before adding in the sugar. Add your spices and the malt extract, and finally, add the flour. Fold it all together with a wooden spoon. If using, add zest and juice of lemon now.

- Transfer the mixture to the loaf tin and smooth the top of the mixture down. Bake for 45 minutes, then switch the oven off and leave the loaf in the oven for another 30 minutes. Take it out and let it cool down, or slice and serve straightaway (with butter!).

Some notes
*The original recipe has whole milk in it but I used some rice milk, and you could probably even make do with water too if you haven't got any.

**The cranberries were soaked in hibiscus tea for about half an hour until they plumped up. Of course, I understand not everyone has easy access to multiple packs of dried hibiscus petals, in which case you can simply use just-boiled water or your favourite tea. I used hibiscus tea because I like the slight sourness it imparts.

***Optional - I've left it out on my next few attempts and the loaf has been fine, just not as sweet and a tiny bit less squidgy.

****Can be replaced with honey, or golden syrup or treacle or some other viscous syrupy item of your choice.