A Canadian take on the classic British malt loaf. This naturally dairy free bake is packed with dried fruit steeped in tea and delicious maple syrup. Best enjoyed warm with a nice cup of tea and perfect as an afternoon treat or even as a fruity breakfast alternative. My Canadian Maple Not Malt Loaf is sure to invoke warm comforting vibes, particularly on a cold or dreary day.
How this recipe evolved
This recipe was inspired by one of the technical challenges for the Great British Bake Off in 2021. I am a huge fan of the show and have watched every season, even since moving to Canada. Each week the contestants are faced with three challenges and for fun, I decided to take on one of the challenges each week and put my own allergy-friendly spin on them. If you would like to watch how each bake turned out, check out my Great British Bake Off Season 12 series on Youtube. You might even recognize a few familiar faces from the show.
In week 1 of Season 12, Prue set the contestants a technical challenge to make a traditional malt loaf. This is a rich fruity cake that is quite sticky and equally as indulgent. While I had never tried a true malt loaf before, I wanted to make a Canadian version, by swapping out some of the ingredients that are hard to find in Canada. And thus evolved the Canadian Maple ‘Not Malt’ Loaf.
Ingredients and Substitutions
My Canadian Maple Loaf is naturally dairy free as there is no milk or butter used. If you are vegan or have other dietary needs, continue reading for my ingredients substitutions.
I always weigh my ingredients rather than use cup measures. This ensures accuracy for every recipe and perfect results every time. I will be adding a more detailed post on this method of weighing soon as well as my handy conversion guide for US cup measurements.
All Purpose Flour: this is a hefty loaf and as such uses all purpose flour for its higher protein content and structure. You could substitute with 1 to 1 Gluten Free Flour if required. I do not recommend using cake flour as it is too light for this recipe.
Baking Soda: the baking soda helps to soften the dried fruit and make them more tender in the bake. Quite often when you add dried fruit in baking they will remain quite chewy, which is totally fine in some baked goods. In this instance, we want them to be softer and the baking soda helps with that process (as well as steeping them in the tea).
Baking Powder: this adds rise to our loaf and ensures we have a more airy consistency with a nice crumb. Without the baking powder, the loaf would end up more stodgy and heavy.
Brown Sugar: I highly recommend using brown sugar for this recipe as it adds to the caramel undertones and also the colour of the loaf. You can substitute with white sugar or coconut sugar but do be aware that it will slightly alter the taste and colour.
Dried Fruit: I am using a combination of raisins and dates in this recipe. You could substitute with sultanas, cranberries and prunes. In fact, any dried fruit will work well with this recipe. Just ensure that it is chopped up finely if you are using a larger fruit and do not skip the steeping in tea stage.
Maple Syrup: the maple syrup adds flavour, moisture and colour to the loaf. For a true loaf cake, you can substitute it with treacle and malt extract. However, these ingredients may not be as readily available as maple syrup.
Eggs: the eggs are the binding agent for our loaf and also add richness. I usually use large eggs in my baking, which are equivalent to approximately 50g once removed from their shell. You can also use medium eggs in this recipe. For an egg-free alternative, sub with 100 grams of apple sauce or two flax eggs.
Black Tea: the tea helps to bring out the flavours and soften the dried fruit. This loaf also works wonderfully with chai tea. Steep in the same manner as described above.
How to Make Canadian Maple ‘Not Malt’ Loaf
There are many steps involved in this recipe but I assure you that they are all worth it as you’ll be able to create a wonderfully comforting fruity loaf that is perfect for afternoon tea or even toasted for breakfast.
Start by preheating your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and greasing and lining a loaf pan with parchment paper. Add 150 ml of boiled water to a measuring jug and add in the black tea bag. Allow to steep for 5 minutes then remove the teabag. You can also jazz up the flavours of this bake even more by using chai tea instead.
Add the raisins and finely chopped dates to a microwaveable bowl and pour over the tea. Give everything a quick stir together and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Poke a few holes to allow some of the steam to disperse while it heats up in the microwave.
Microwave for 4 minutes then carefully remove from the microwave. Please be careful doing this as the steam will be very hot. I suggest wearing an oven glove to remove the bowl and the plastic wrap. The microwaving process creates steam in the covered bowl which helps to infuse the fruit with the tea. If you wanted to make this in a more traditional manner, you could soak your fruit overnight but this method is a great way to speed up the process.
While still wearing your oven gloves, remove the plastic wrap. Stir in the baking soda. You will hear it start to fizz as it reacts with the fruit and liquid. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Making the sugar syrup
While the fruit rests, we are going to make our sugar syrup. Add the brown sugar and maple syrup into a small saucepan.
Heat over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. It should take about two to three minutes for all of the granules of sugar to dissolve. Make sure you don’t boil it as we don’t want to turn it into caramel. Instead, this will create a dark syrup that is similar to molasses but jam-packed full of maple flavour as well. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Side note – this syrup would be seriously good on vanilla ice cream!
Mixing the Canadian Maple Loaf Batter
Now that all of our main elements are made, we’re ready to start making the loaf batter. To a mixing bowl, add the all purpose flour and baking powder. You can sieve the flour and baking powder if your flour is particularly lumpy. Pour the maple syrup mixture into the centre and add the steeped fruit.
Fold the ingredients together then add in the two eggs. Mix until fully combined. This is a very wet mixture so do not be alarmed at this stage. And it does smell so wonderful once everything is combined. A really fruity, molasses-like aroma that just reminds me of Christmas.
Pour the batter into the lined loaf pan and use a spatula to spread it out evenly. The overhang of the parchment paper is going to make it easier for us to remove the loaf once it is baked.
Bake at 325°F for 1 hour. Insert a cake tester or toothpick to ensure that it comes out clean. Bake for another 5 minutes if it does not come out clean. Once it is ready, the loaf should also feel slightly firm and have a deep golden colour. It will also make your house smell so rich and fruity.
Pop the loaf pan onto a cooling rack or pot stands and immediately brush with the remaining maple syrup. This will add a gorgeous glazed look to our loaf.
Allow the loaf to cool for at least 15 minutes before turning out onto a serving plate. Slice and serve warm with a cup of tea. Look at all the lovely fruit in our loaf. It is perfectly evenly distributed and the loaf has the most wonderful crumb.
I highly recommend wrapping the loaf in parchment paper at room temperature to retain freshness. It will last for 3-4 days and the rich flavours from the syrup and the fruit will also develop over time.
The Canadian Maple Loaf also toasts really nicely as a great breakfast option and you can add butter for an extra indulgent treat.
If you a fan of loaf cakes, check out my chocolate chip banana bread recipe.
Canadian Maple ‘Not Malt’ Loaf
- Small measuring jug
- Microwaveable Bowl
- Cling Film / Plastic Wrap
- 150 ml Boiled Water
- 1 Black Tea Bag
- 200 grams Raisins
- 100 grams Dates finely chopped
- 0.5 tsp Baking Soda
- 190 ml Maple Syrup
- 100 grams Brown Sugar
- 250 grams All Purpose Flour
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 2 Eggs (large – see note)
- Preheat oven to 325°F and gather all ingredients and equipment. Eggs should be at room temperature.
- Grease and line the loaf pan with an oversized strip of parchment paper.
To Make the Maple Loaf
- Add 150 ml of boiled water to a measuring jug and add in the teabag. Allow to steep for 5 minutes then remove the tea bag.
- Add the raisins and finely chopped dates to a microwaveable bowl, pour over the tea. Cover with plastic wrap and poke a few holes to allow the steam to disperse. Microwave for 4 minutes then carefully remove from the microwave. Remove the plastic wrap and stir in the baking soda. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Add the brown sugar and maple syrup in to a small saucepan. Heat over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. This will create a dark syrup. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- To a mixing bowl, add the all purpose flour and baking powder. Pour the maple syrup mixture into the centre and add the steeped fruit. Fold the ingredients together then add in the eggs. Mix until fully combined.
- Pour the batter in to the lined loaf pan and use a spatula to spread it out evenly.
- Bake at 325°F for 1 hour. Check the loaf – insert a cake tester to ensure it comes out clean. It should also feel slightly firm and have a deep golden colour.
- Pop the loaf pan onto a cooling rack and immediately brush with the remaining maple syrup. Allow the loaf to cool for at least 15 minutes before turning out onto a serving plate.
- Serve warm with a cup of tea. Note – you can toast the slices and add butter for an extra indulgent treat.
- I highly recommend wrapping the loaf in parchment paper to retain freshness. It will last for 3-4 days and the rich flavours from the syrup and the fruit will also develop over time.
- I usually use large eggs in my baking, which are equivalent to approximately 50g once removed from their shell. You can also use medium eggs in this recipe. Sub with 100g of apple sauce or 2 flax eggs for an egg-free or vegan loaf.
- This loaf makes a great breakfast option and is best enjoyed warm with butter.
- I always weigh my ingredients rather than use cup measures. This ensures accuracy for every recipe and perfect results every time. I will be adding a more detailed post on this method of weighing soon as well as my handy conversion guide for US cup measurements.