Benedictine truffles for Mother’s Day

Chocolate at Home4

Mother’s Day isn’t usually a big event in our house as it generally falls pretty close to my birthday. Some years it’s even fallen on my birthday.

This year I turn the big four-oh and I am being treated to a whole host of dinners and parties, which started last weekend with Saturday lunch at the outstanding Ethicurean and then pampering followed by tapas at the Lido in Bristol on Sunday. My other half is cooking us a fabulous Middle Eastern feast for us tomorrow (my actual birthday), as well as baking his infamous carrot cake. And then next weekend there will be a gathering of family and friends at the Thali Cafe in Southville, and who knows we might even venture out to a club on Saturday night – partly to prove I’ve still got the stamina despite my advancing years.

So this year I really don’t expect much on Mother’s Day. My family has organised quite enough for me already!

And so when my Mum came to stay for a long weekend at the end of February, I decided to celebrate Mother’s Day a little early but in her honour. Continue reading “Benedictine truffles for Mother’s Day”

A squidgy malt loaf for Mothering Sunday

malt loaf

Last year I featured on the blog some pretty little pistachio scones for Mothering Sunday. Only problem was my own Mum was at home in Spain at the time, so she didn’t actually get to sample them until she got around to baking a batch for herself from my recipe.

When Mum was over from Spain last weekend, I baked a super squidgy malt loaf which she really, really enjoyed, and so it feels appropriate this is the recipe I post this year as my Mother’s Day offering. One I’ve actually managed to bake for my own mother.

Malt loaf was always a favourite when I was a kid. Never homemade of course but the variety made by that well-known brand in the bright yellow packaging. My other favourites as a kid in the eighties included that uber-sweet Jamaica ginger cake and those sponge puddings in a tin. As you can see, not a lot of baking went on in our house. Both my Mum and I discovered the joys of baking later in life…

I found myself reminiscing about malt loaf a few weeks ago, wondering how a homemade version would compare to shop-bought. Sometimes there’s no point messing with something you already love. But I figured with malt loaf there was potential, and it turns out I was right. You can add loads more fruit to a malt loaf you bake yourself (I majored with big, fat pieces of gooey dried fig but you can go with whatever you fancy) and you can up the sticky-squidgy levels with lashings of malt extract and treacle. The children ate theirs as it came, but Mum and I enjoyed ours with a thick spread of butter. Heavenly.

malt loaf2

Squidgy malt loaf

sunflower oil, for greasing the tin
75ml hot black tea – I used Redbush tea
90g malt extract, plus a little extra for the glaze
20g black treacle
25g demerara sugar
50g sultanas
50 dried figs, chopped into small pieces
25g dried cranberries
25g dried blueberries
1 egg, beaten
125g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 2.

Grease and line a 450g/1lb loaf tin with baking paper.

In a large bowl, mix the hot tea with the malt extract, black treacle, demerara sugar, sultanas, figs, cranberries and blueberries. Next add the egg and combine well.

Add the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and mix thoroughly.

Pour into the loaf tin and bake for around 50 minutes until fairly firm and slightly risen.

Leave to cool a little on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then brush the top with a little more malt extract. Then leave to cool completely before removing from the tin.

Store in an airtight container for up to five days. The malt loaf will get progressively stickier and squidgier. If it lasts that long before getting gobbled up.