The Joys of Malt Loaf

maltloaf.jpgA recent survey found the iconic food of the British is fish and chips. It started me thinking about other foods that might be specificially associated with the British. There’s roast beef and yorkshire pudding, of course, and cucumber sandwiches. A few years ago, Chicken Tikka Masala, an Indian dish, was voted the nation’s favourite, showing the best of multi-cultural Britain.

For me, one of the foods that is peculiarly British is malt loaf. I don’t know what other country you can find it in. (If you can think of anywhere else in the world where it is cherished and relished, do let me know by adding a comment!)

Malt loaf is a small, dark, fruity loaf which is about the size of a mini-brick. It is sticky and soft so that when you cut into it with a knife, you have to be careful not to press down too hard or you will squash the loaf. When you’ve sliced it, it looks like a slice of bread soaked in syrupy Guinness and crammed with currants and raisins. It tastes best with a slathering of butter on it. Inside your mouth, it is sticky and caramelly, clinging to your palate and teeth. The combination of slightly salty butter and fruity, toffee-like sweetness is just yummy!

Now, we have a rule about malt loaf in our household. We are only allowed to have it after a long, bracing walk - preferably in briskly chilled air. Or, after we’ve worked hard in the garden. In those circumstances, we can luxuriate in the taste and stickiness in the belief that it is good for us - as opposed to just being sweet and fattening. Ideally, we always have it with a cup of strong tea.

Protestant work ethic, sticky currant loaf and a mug of strong tea - how much more British can we get than that!

Hmmm, even writing about it makes me drool. I will have to go for a quick march round the neighbourhood now so I can break open my stache of malt loaf in the kitchen cupboard….

67 Responses to “The Joys of Malt Loaf”

  1. Julia Says:

    I agree, malt loaf is very yummy.

  2. Ted Mahsun Says:

    I think it’s interesting to note that Chicken Tikka Masala might not even have true Indian origins, and could actually be from the UK itself!

    Have never tried Malt Loaf. Shall do so if ever I get a chance to go to the UK.

  3. Yang-May Ooi Says:

    Ted, I think you’re right. A lot of Indian curry dishes in the UK aren’t found in India or anywhere else! My cousin from Australia loves to have Indian food here - he says he can’t get the same taste in the Indian restaurants over there.

  4. DG Says:

    My family is from the North of England, and they reckon malt loaf started up there. Hence they associate it as a bit of a northern working class treat. And as for the butter, it is not an option, it is essential. And malt loaf should be eaten with a pot of tea that has been brewing for at least 3 years.

  5. DG Says:

    And chillies - what makes Indian food hot, originated in South America - taken to India by the Portuguese. And our chips of course originated in North America. And pasta came to Italy from China. I guess we’ve been doing fusion stuff with travelling food long before people travelled as much.

  6. Yang-May Ooi Says:

    Yes, DG, the one way to upset an Italian is to tell them that spaghetti is really noodles and should be eaten with chopsticks….

  7. Carol Wilson Says:

    I’ve lived in France for the last 20 years and one of the things I miss the most is malt loaf. I recently bought a bread machine and would like to make malt loaf, the only problem is where to buy malt extract in the south of France, Toulouse region.
    As I’m a northern lass, I agree that malt loaf is from up our-end, I was brought up on it!

  8. Yang-May Ooi Says:

    SOS - Can anyone help Carol find malt extract in France? Please add a comment or email me and I will pass on your email.

  9. Sonia Says:

    I also live in France and want to make malt loaf, has anyone found where malt extract can be obtained?

  10. Kim Lewis Says:

    I would like to make some Malt Loaf, as we can not buy it in the Cayman Islands.I have no idea how, to any recipes? I have one jar of malt extract given to me by my sister-in-law 2 years ago, the last recipe I tried wasted precious malt extract.

  11. pedro Says:

    Malt loaf is a very healthy food, not as you have said in your writings. It is used by many cyclists and runners etc

  12. yeeton Says:

    IN response to a request by Kim Lewis, herewith a Malt Loaf recipe, makes one 500 g loaf. Let me know how you get on.

    FIT the metal chopping blade and put
    the flour, butter and sugar in the
    processor bowl of food processor.
    Warm the milk, treacle and malt
    extract, pour down the the feed tube
    and process until smooth. Add the
    sultanas and process for 2 seconds.
    Turn into a well greased 500g loaf tin
    and bake in a preheated moderate
    oven, 160 deg C(325 deg F), Gas Mark 3, for 1 hour, until golden. Turn onto a wire rack.
    Boil the sugar and water together and use to brush the top of the loaf
    immediately.Leave until cold,
    preferably until the next day. Serve
    sliced and buttered.

    250 g self-raising
    25 g butter
    25 g soft brown sugar
    [or palm or rock sugar,
    or plain honey]
    150 ml milk or soya milk
    2 tsp black treacle
    1 rounded tbsp malt
    50 g sultanas
    1 tbsp sugar
    2 tbsp water

  13. yeeton Says:

    pedro Says:

    February 5th, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    Malt loaf is a very healthy food, not as you have said in your writings. It is used by many cyclists and runners etc

    CALORIFIC malt loaf is high in sugar and bad saturated fats that butter used therein is, so I wouldn’t say it is healthy stuff at all! OK I suppose, for the long-distance cycle tourist that needs all that high-energy stuff to replenish, to fuel and to burn - yeeton

  14. Ronny Says:

    Malt loaf generally doesn’t contain butter. Well, not the stuff you buy in the shops, anyway. (I can’t digest dairy products, so I’m very glad it doesn’t!)

    I recently bought two types from a well-known supermarket. A cheap one for 22p, and an organic one 4 times the price. Guess which was nicer!

  15. Vini Says:

    cut with butter…POPYCOCK - you havnt lived till you eaten it TOASTED lightly with butter, the butter melts, its crispy on the outside, gooey in the inside OMG….im gonna go get some. On the health side, no it aint “good” (in my opinion)for you too many calories per slice, if you are cyclist runner maybe good for that calorie boost but so is a piece of chocolate or some fruit gums. I wouldnt eat this stuff too much or you’ll turn into a ‘fatty’. BEFORE, working in the garden, or before the Gym, cycling could be good, or perhaps 1 or 2 pieces ON ocassion first thing in the morning to kick start the old metabalism. Other than that…..hmmmmmm….still delicious!

  16. Janice Says:

    Ive just eaten a full large malt loaf (with butter, groan!). I miss-read the packet and thought it said 86 calories per 1/2 a loaf! I thought ‘well thats not bad, i’ll eat it all!’ Just checked calories on web site and its 86 cals per 1/8 of a loaf!! I’m seriously upset now!!

  17. alwena Says:

    I also love soreen malt loaf with butter. Just had 4 slices (half a loaf) and a big mug of tea. I made my own in one of those bread machines that I have and it was a huge disappointment. It was not squashy and sticky,it was the same texture as a normal loaf of bread ;:-( maybe I should have added more treacle??? any ideas

  18. yeeton Says:

    ALWENA, perhaps
    you should
    make it according to the recipe I gave on February 7th for a superior

  19. Patricia W Says:

    I am English, but have lived in the States for 32 years and long for this delightful bread. Does anyone have a good recipe???????

  20. Yang-May Says:

    Hi Patricia - you can try yeeton’s recipe he posted on 7 Feb. Or Google “Delia Smith malt loaf recipe” and see how that turns out for you.

  21. digitalnomad Says:

    Re: Fusion Food

    Here in the states we have Canadian Bacon, which I believe cannot be found in Canada. What we call cookies are biscuits in Canada.

    We also have English Muffins. This too, I think did not originate in England. And, of course, there is Pizza, which did not originate in Italy.

  22. Yang-May Says:

    Hi digitalnomad - yum, I love Canadian Bacan, esp with pancakes and maple syrup. The best place that does that combo is Mama’s on Washington Square in San Francisco…

  23. Karen Moss Says:

    I also misread the calorifc content (only noticed as the last piece went down swimmingly). Hey ho the damage is done now…. Anyway, just off to the gym!

  24. Yang-May Ooi Says:

    Karen, it’s best not to read calorific content on goodies, I find!

  25. Clive Says:

    I live near Cognac, in France, and get my malt extract from the English Shop in Saintes (La Perfide Albian). You could try calling the owner (Nat) to see if he will mail some jars to you (250g). Open Tuesday thru Saturday. Phone is 05 46 94 24 98, and the address is 11 rue Arc de Triomphe, 17100 Saintes.

  26. Yang-May Says:

    Thanks Clive for the helpful info re the shop in France that stocks malt extract - it will be useful for all those homesick Britons living over there. PS. I love the name of the shop!

  27. Steve Higgins Says:

    I live in Brazil and we have a type of malt loaf. Its called pe de moleque and its served around June for the st Joao (st Johns) holiday or the harvest festival.

  28. Yang-May Ooi Says:

    Is pe de moleque only eaten as part of a festival, Steve? Do you know anything about its religious significance eg how is it associated with St John? This is fascinating - please do share more.

  29. marguerita Says:

    wow thanks for the great malt loaf recipeIm from the North of England and grew up on Malt loaf as one of our Sunday teatime foods. i now live in Canada. My sister sent me the recipe and said I could substitute the malt extract for Ovaltine(the Drink Beverage)

  30. Hobbes Says:

    Malt loaf is fabulous. Toasted gives it a nice crunchy texture. Thick proper butter and a thin slice of mature cheddar. Laughing cow works too.

  31. Glenn Says:

    Several ex-pats got it right. Butter is mandatory, although tea steeped for a few months rather than years is fine.

    I’m looking for a recipe, as Toronto, as multi-cultural as it is, has lost touch with it’s very British roots. I’m down to the last two Soreen loaves, so I’m going to need another trip over ‘ome. With airfare etc. each loaf cost a bomb, but worth every penny.

    One other English treat: Walls ice cream with a Flakey bar stuck in it. Too bad Kunzle Cakes (from B’rum) have gone.

    Now back to my Dandilion & Burdock!

  32. Carol Says:

    back again one year later,
    At last I’ve found malt extract in a shop called Bio Azur in Albi, south France.
    I would advise people to go to Bio shops for that rare, hard to find, malt extract !
    P.s Does malt loaf eating help to get a bigger willy or does the latest comment have strictly nothing to do with malt loaf ?

  33. Yang-May Ooi Says:

    Hi Carol, thanks for coming back - and for pointing out the spam! I’ve now deleted that comment. Re your quest for malt extract - hallelujah that you found some. How has your home made malt loaf turned out with the rare extract?

    Marguerita, Hobbes and Glenn - thanks for stopping by and sharing your malt loaf experiences/ preferences!

  34. Bob Jay Says:

    This looks like the real stuff, but where is the recipe??

  35. Yang-May Ooi Says:

    Hi Bob - I don’t have the skills to make malt loaf but I enjoy eating it so that’s why I didn’t post up the recipe. However, one of my commenters has done so in his comment of Feb 07 2007 (yeeton) or Google “Delia Smith malt loaf recipe”.

  36. Bob Jay Says:

    Thanks Yang-May and Yee Ton.

  37. JB Says:

    Stodge City!

  38. Sarah Says:

    I was looking for a recipe for this having watched the children demolish a loaf in about 2 seconds. My husband likes his cut lengthways with Clover (we don’t use butter) and do you know what, he is skinny like a pencil. So I am desparate for one. Anyone who wants some mailed to them, let me know.

  39. Christy Says:

    Ronny, this is probably a dumb question but which loaf was nicer the cheap or organic one? Been inspired to buy some, just wondering if posher ones are worth the money

  40. tom broster Says:

    there have been a few attempts to make and sell maltloaves in western australia but none of them were sticky enough and the right size. always too big. They were clearly made in australia in the old days as there were many different recipes available. I have tried some of the ones that don’t use yeast and one is OK but not sticky enough. Tom Broster

  41. Cal King Says:

    I’m sitting here eating malt-loaf, and typed the word into google to see what would come up!

    I’ve heard it’s very good for your health, so I’m making sure I snack on it often!

  42. Sally Says:

    You can by it in Perth, Western Australia (I bought Soreen at the ‘British’ shop in Floret.) It was hiddiously overpriced though.

    I just ate an entire Soreen (no butter) over a cup of very strong tea whilst working and I stumbled across this website whilst trying to find out if it was very bad for me!!! I do like a slice - just don’t normally binge on a whole loaf!

  43. Yang-May Says:

    Wow, Sally, a whole loaf! Well, without butter, it’s mildly less bad for you, I guess!

  44. Jennifer Says:

    On a recent trip to England I discovered the joy of Malt Loaf!!

    I find that using a serrated knife sprayed with a little non-stick cooking spray works great at slicing it ;)

    I live in Arizona, USA, & unfortunetly only brought back one loaf, so hopefully I will either:

    Find a shop here in the States that sells it…or
    Attempt to make some myself (best possibility)

    :) Great thread - take care everyone!

  45. Taz Says:

    I trotally agree.
    like Maltloaf is delicious but i fear one thing
    does marmite cause amnesia?
    because im starting to forget who i really am,.

    Love Taz xx

  46. Frances Says:

    Could the health benefits be from the Vitamin B content?

  47. Ronna Says:

    I live in Costa Rica (via KANSAS). A good friend here is from England and brought a malt loaf back with her from her last visit! I LOVE IT! We are on a mission to MAKE them HERE.

    I found that trecale (sp?) a common ingredient in all on line malt loaf recipes is MOLASSES! We can find THAT, but we are still struggling with finding MALT EXTRACT. Do you know if OVALTINE can be substituted for it?????

    I LOVE malt loaf!!! My next ENGLISH treat will be Branson Pickles, Walnut Whips and Crummets (which my english friend SWEARS is NOT the same as English Muffins….we’ll see)!!

    Long Live Malt Loaf LOVERS!!!

  48. Paula Says:

    Dose any one have a list of the ingredients that is in the Soreen malt loaf? thanks

  49. Gina Says:

    Go to to order Barley Malt Extract (Dry)Isn’t that the right ingredient??

    I’m from England and LOVE Malt Loaf!! Can’t wait to use the recipe!

  50. Donna Homewood Says:

    Where can you but Malt Extract in the UK????

  51. wong hk Says:

    I like malt bread alot.
    I live in Malaysia. Do you know whether anyone selling
    it in Malaysia.

    Thanks Wong

  52. Heather Says:


    Canada does indeed have “Canadian bacon.” We just don’t call it that. Up here it’s back bacon. If it’s rolled in cornmeal it’s called peameal bacon. As for cookies being called biscuits, that’s not entirely true. It depends on the type of cookie entirely — very few cookies are called biscuits. They are mostly called cookies. If you order a biscuit you’re likely to end up with a tea biscuit.

    Yang-Mai Ooi, you can buy commercially made malt loaf in Ontario, Canada. It is made by Dempsters. It doesn’t contain any fruit, it’s just a small, round loaf. When I moved to Alberta I couldn’t find it anywhere. My cousin, who moved to Nova Scotia, also couldn’t find it anywhere. I wrote to Dempsters and was told it’s not available in those provinces. It’s probably due to a high number of British immigrants in the Toronto area. It’s the one and only thing I miss not being able to buy here.

  53. Jean Says:

    You can get Dempster’s Malt Bread delivered from !!!
    I moved from NY to NC about 12 years ago and had missed Dempster’s Malt Bread all that time. Every few years I would search the web to see if I could get it sent to me and just earlier this year….finally!!!!

  54. denaria fletcher Says:

    Soreen malt loaf; wheat flour, raisins 17%, water, starch, invert sugar syrup, malted barley flour 5%, malted barley extract 4.5%, dried whey, vegetable fat, salt, yeast, preservative, colour.
    I found it today in my Australian supermarket, though I knew I could make it myself, I bought it for the list of ingredients at a woeful price (around $US4.30). Note it is not a quick bread, as in raised by soda/acid, but using yeast, which is what our combined memories are of this cake/bread in the far distant past. Malt extract is freely available at brewing supply shops, although at a pinch Horlicks can be substituted. Bearing in mind an excess of the malt will inhibit the yeast and prevent rise, or bring about the rise and fall! Happy baking.

  55. CoCo Says:

    I want to make malt bread with my bread machine. I grew up in Canada eating Demptsters Malt loaf. I want a recipe along those lines, but less ‘plasticky’ tasting. Has anyone tasted this loaf AND traditional malt bread from the online recipes? I have no idea if they are even in the same ballpark. I don’t want fruit in mine, BTW.

  56. Andrea Says:

    This is best recipe I’ve come across as it has the most malt extract in it & no yeast so v easy & quick.

    NB Brewers are probably best source of malt extract in most countries.


    8 tbsp malt extract
    90ml/3fl oz hot strong tea
    170g/6oz wholemeal self-raising flour
    good pinch of ground mixed spice
    80g/3oz raisins
    80g/3oz sultanas
    1 egg


    1. Butter a 900g/2lb loaf tin and line it with greaseproof paper. Preheat oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1.
    2. Mix the malt extract with the hot tea and leave to cool.
    3. Place the flour with the mixed spice in a bowl along with the fruits, egg and malty tea. Mix well together before spooning into the lined loaf tin. Bake in the preheated oven for 1¼ - 1½ hours.
    4. Pierce with a skewer and once it can be removed clean, then the loaf is ready.
    5. Leave to stand for 10 minutes in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack. Once cold, wrap in baking parchment and keep in an airtight container for a minimum of 2-3 days. This is a loaf that needs to mature to reach the moist texture we all expect in a malt loaf.

  57. Ash Says:

    I think some of you are going a bit overboard worrying about calorie content. According to a quick look on the net a Soreen ’snack pack’ (2 slices + butter) is 204-220 Kcal

    A typical supermarket sandwich is 300 - 450 Kcal so soreen is a much better snack/meal. Yes it has sugar and fat in it but you just need to adjust your sugar and fat intake for the rest of the day to make sure you don’t go over your RDA. Also make sure you don’t exceed the number of calories required to maintain your current bodyweight.

  58. Carol Says:

    Those who want malt bread like the Dempster’s product available in Ontario Canada supposedly made without raisins, should have a look at the ingredient list below. Perhaps the company did market testing and found that North Americans are finicky about fruit in their bread. More’s the pity — there are all kinds of wonderful breads made around the world that contain dried and/or candied fruit!


  59. Eleanor Says:

    This is the closest recipe in taste and texture that I’ve trialled recently to Soreen - I’ve trialled 6 different recipes!
    Heat.oven to 165degrees C
    Line a foil tray (same size as Soreen) with non-stick cooking paper
    Soak 150 grams of sultanas and raisins mixed in
    85mls Malt extract
    1 tab of molasses
    And 75mls strong tea
    For 15 minutes.
    Add 125 gms SR flour and a pinch of salt
    Bake 35 mins.
    While loaf is still hot ‘paint’ top with malt extract. Leave in foil tray to cool. Lift out of tray when cold leaving paper stuck to loaf. Put into a sealed Tupperware for 3 days - do not open! It goes nice and sticky.
    This isn’t as dark in colour as Soreen, but it has the stickiness to the teeth texture and it tastes dammed close!
    In NZ you can buy “Maltexo” from supermarkets - I suggest to people trying to find malt extract that they look around the sports protein bars, shakes and supplements area, in a supermarket or drug store, or at a home brewing shop.

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