slices of Prue Leith’s Malt Loaf

Prue Leith’s Malt Loaf Recipe

Fans of The Great British Bake Off  might remember Prue Leith’s epic Malt Loaf recipe. Our friend, James Collier, shares his interpretation of this British holiday and tea time classic.

What is a malt loaf?

Prue Leith's Malt Loaf from the Great British Baking Show

A malt loaf is a type of sweet, leavened bread made with malt extract as a primary ingredient. Prue Leith describes it as a “richer, denser fruitcake”.  This old-fashioned British recipe took American by storm when it was featured on Season 12 of the Great British Bake- Off. It’s usually served during tea time, and is sliced and served with a smear of butter, and maybe jam or honey. Most malt loaf recipes call for soaked dried fruit to be added to the mix, usually raisins, prunes or both.

Malt loaf is also sometimes called “Harvo loaf” because of a well-known UK bakery called Harvo that offered the bread through the 1970s. Although commercially made malt loaf is available in certain areas of the US, quick breads and raisin bread are far more common.

Fun fact: One of the first Malt Loaf recipes was patented in England in 1886,  and then in the US in 1889 by John Montgomery.  The (very) specific techniques he used to bake malt loaf caused some of the starches to break down into malt sugar – resulting in a softer bread with a longer shelf life.

How to serve malt loaf

In Britain, malt loaf is slathered in whipped butter and served alongside afternoon tea. That sounds perfectly lovely but we’d probably enjoy a slice with our morning coffee, or with a glass of red wine after dinner.

Why we love this malt loaf recipe

For her iconic malt loaf, Prue doubled down on the rich, caramel flavors of California Prunes. She used both chopped prunes and prune purée to add flavor and moisture to this recipe. Molasses, brown sugar, tea and raisins all add to the unique flavor and texture of this old fashioned recipe.

A loaf of Prue Leith's Malt Loaf
Prue Leith's Malt Loaf from the Great British Baking Show. Recipe revisions and photography by James Collier
slices of Prue Leith’s Malt Loaf

Prue Leith’s Malt Loaf

Prue Leith
Fans of The Great British Bake Off might remember Prue Leith’s epic Malt Loaf. Our friend, James Collier, shares his interpretation of this British holiday and tea time classic.
4.86 from 7 votes
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Appetizer, Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Chef Created, Holiday
Servings 8
Calories 342 kcal


  • 1 bag black tea
  • 3/4 cup near-boiling water
  • 2 cups California raisins
  • 3/4 cup pitted California Prunes finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup prune purée
  • 1/4 cup malt extract *1/4 cup prune purée could be substituted for the malt extract
  • 2 TBSP blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBSP baking powder (bicarb)
  • 2 eggs beaten


  • Preheat the oven to 325° F (160C). Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
  • Place the teabag in a large mug or Pyrex bowl and steep in the hot water for 5 minutes, then discard the bag.
  • Add the brewed tea, raisins, and chopped prunes to a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with cling wrap, piercing it with a few holes to allow steam to release. Microwave at full power for 4 minutes, then remove the cling wrap and stir in the baking soda. Let the bowl sit on a counter for 10 minutes.
  • Combine the prune puree, malt extract (if using), molasses, and brown sugar in a small pan, heating on low and stirring continuously until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Create a well in the center, then pour in the cooled prune purée and the tea-soaked fruit, along with any remaining soaking liquid. Fold gently to combine the ingredients. Add the beaten eggs, and continue stirring gently until evenly mixed.
  • Pour the mixture into the lined loaf pan and bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow the loaf to cool completely in the pan.
  • Once cool, slice to serve, or wrap in baking paper and let sit for 1-2 days to continue developing flavor!


Prune Puree*

Prep time: 5 minutes | Yield: 1 cup (250 ml)
  • 16 ounces (450g)  pitted California prunes
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) hot water
Combine the prunes and water in a blender. Pulse to combine, then blend until smooth, pourable consistency forms, scraping the sides if necessary.
Store the purée in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.

Pro Tip from Prue:

For maximum squidgy texture, wrap the finished loaf and leave it for a few days before eating. Get Prue’s original Malt Loaf recipe here.

Bake a little more:

Love Prue Leith’s Malt Loaf? Be sure to try our Incredible Pecan Sticky Buns! Both recipes are full of rich flavors enhanced by the natural sweetness of California Prunes.


Calories: 342kcalCarbohydrates: 81gProtein: 6gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0.5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.4gTrans Fat: 0.004gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 261mgPotassium: 595mgFiber: 5gSugar: 25gVitamin A: 229IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 140mgIron: 3mg
Keyword baking, British, Great British Bake Off, malt loaf, Prue Leith
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Love this Malt Loaf recipe? Try these old-fashioned British desserts…

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Did you try this recipe? Maybe you’ve got a favorite recipe using California Prunes that you’d like to share with us? Snap a pic and share it on social using #caprunes.

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