Prue Leith’s Malt Loaf

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.

Once you’ve mastered Prue’s Malt Loaf (or the U.S. version of it, anyway!) Try this Gooey Chocolate Pudding Cake by Chef Peter Sidwell next! You’ll be a Great British Baker in no time.


What is a malt loaf?

A malt loaf is a type of sweet, leavened bread made with malt extract as a primary ingredient. 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 U.S., quickbraeds and raisin bread are far more common.

Servings: 8-10 servings
Prep Time:
Cook Time:


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 malt extract*

2 TBSPS blackstrap molasses

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 TBSPS baking powder

2 eggs, beaten


  • *1/4 cup prune purée could be substituted for the malt extract


Preheat the oven to 325° F. 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

  • 16 ounces pitted California prunes
  • 1/2 cup 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.