Thursday, January 03, 2019

VeggieDag Thursday: The Magnificent Malt Loaf

VeggieDag Thursday
VeggieDag Thursday is an occasional Thursday post
on an animal-free diet and on environmental and ecological issues.

Christmas dinner here is a meatful occasion. If I want a meatless plate, I bring it. But, to be fair and thankful, folk do graciously prepare some side vegetables minus the animal fat.

Christmas table setting

This year (now, last year), for inspiration, I turned to The Beer Kitchen, a new cookbook by U.K.-based beer writer Melissa Cole, which, in December, I picked it as "the best cookbook of 2018, with beer."

To be clear, The Beer Kitchen is not a vegetarian cookbook. To be fair, Ms. Cole did not write it as one. But several of her recipes are —or can be modified to be— animal-free. I mentioned one in particular —Malt Loaf— of which Ms. Cole wrote:
I love malt loaf [made with dried fruits, wholemeal flour, mild ale, and malt extract, among other ingredients]. It's something that was a feature of my childhood because either my Mum had made it or because my friends' Mums had or it was from a yellow packet — whichever way it came, it was always handed to me toasted and with lashings of salted butter on it.

And, so, for Christmas Dinner 2018, I baked the Malt Loaf (not meatloaf!), a bit savory, a bit sweet ... and with a few changes here and there.

Malt Loaf, out of the oven



    • 2½ fluid ounces strong, black tea, plus 1 fluid ounce (reserved)
    • 2½ fluid ounces Yuengling Black and Tan, plus 1 fluid ounce (reserved)
    • 4 fluid oz malt extract syrup (9 TBSP), plus 2 TBSP (reserved)
    • 3 dry ounces (~½ cup) soft brown sugar
    • 7 dry ounces (~1⅓ cups) dried cranberries
    • 1 cup plain white flour
    • ⅔ cup garbanzo (chick pea) flour
    • 2 TBSP ground flax seeds + 6 TBSP water
    • 3 tsp baking powder
    • ½ tsp Kosher salt

    • Make two flax 'eggs.' In a small bowl, mix together two tablespoons ground flaxseed meal with six tablespoons of water. Chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes to set up and thicken.
    • In a saucepan, warm the tea and beer over low heat. Add the cranberries. Remove from the stove and allow to sit for 15 minutes.
    • Set oven to 350 °F.
    • Lightly oil a loaf pan (5-inch wide x 9-inch long x 2½-inch deep). Line the loaf pan with lightly dampened and crinkled cooking parchment paper.
    • Stir the malt extract and brown sugar into the fruit/tea/beer mixture, well enough to dissolve the sugar. Add the flax 'eggs.' Stir to mix.
    • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. Add the malt extract mixture. Mix well to make a soft batter. Let stand for 15 minutes.
    • Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake uncovered for 50-60 minutes. It's done when a skewer, poked in the loaf, comes out clean.
    • Poke a few holes in the loaf with the skewer and baste the loaf with the reserved tea/beer/malt extract. Allow to cool
    • Remove the loaf from the pan. Wrap and cover with more parchment paper. (It will be messy!) Put in an airtight container and keep cool for at least 3 days before eating. Or, as I did, until the next day.

    • Malt extract syrup is unhopped wort —mashed malted barley and water— derived from the brewing process, that's been dried slightly into a sweet, gooey, dark brown paste. It's like using a concentrated dark beer, but with few bitter compounds. Available through the Jeff Bezos outlets and from better supermarkets.
    • Rather than going all vegan, two eggs, well-beaten, can be used in place of the flaxseed —and, in fact, are used in the original recipe.
    • Ms. Cole, from Britain, did NOT suggest Yuengling Black and Tan as the beer ingredient. Mild Ale, which she did suggest, is hard to find in the U.S., especially in can or bottle. The key is to use a dark beer, but one low on bittering hops. Absent a dark beer, in a pinch: a mainstream lager.
    • Her recipe calls for white flour and whole wheat ("wholemeal") flour. I had garbanzo flour in the pantry, so, voila.
    • The recipe also calls for raisins and diced dried prunes. But, as dried cranberries were the first thing I spied in the supermarket aisle, again, voila.
I once worked with a brewer who said he hated the taste of wort. What? I couldn't understand that. But maybe he would like this loaf. It's only slightly sweet, like a fresh, much less dense, beery fruitcake. Ms. Cole calls it the Magnificent Malt Loaf. I concur.

Christmas Malt Loaf


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