I always wondered why a loaf is a loaf when technically it’s just cake batter right? The best answer that my wee brain has come up with to date is that it’s simply in a loaf shape so it can be sliced up, just like bread and then of course just like bread, you either thickly scrap it with butter (Olivio spread in this house) or not. I much prefer it with butter or spread than naked otherwise what’s the point, it may as well have been a cake!
I feel the need with this recipe to mention cracked loaves. I have never, ever over mixed my cakes, loaves or muffins yet my loaves alway come out of the oven with a lovely characteristic crack running through the centre. Some people will say it’s from being over mixed and some will say the oven’s too hot, which can often happen with cakes and muffins. It’s my opinion that for whatever scientific reason it’s caused by the shape of the tin, I’m not sure how, I.m not that smart, but I think that’s the reason…..maybe one of you in the know can confirm or deny! Anyway, I personally love the crater, it looks awesomely rustic and loudly declares that this loaf was made with love by a fabulous home baker, who stayed up all night waiting for the damn thing to cool, watching some outrageous reality TV show full of nakedness of crazy housewives and dance mums, just so they could ice it (just me?).
This is an old recipe from my clippings folder and is mixed in an unusual way, not by creaming the sugar and butter and not by adding melted butter or oil and mixing it all together but adding all of the ingredients to the one bowl and mixing it all together with softened butter added. So with this recipe, if the butter isn’t soft enough there can be tiny little lumps of it in the batter. I thought I’d play around with it and melt the butter instead so as not to confuse anyone (more so myself) but then I thought, hey, why should I when it turns out great just the way it is. 🙂
P.S. Technically the icing on this loaf is Butterscotch flavoured, but what’s a bit of brown sugar versus white sugar between friends? Speaking of Butterscotch, guess what recipe I am posting next…..you guessed it, Sticky Toffee Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce…..my absolute fav Winter’s dessert!
175 g/6 oz butter (at room temperature)
1 tablespoon granulated (strong) coffee granules
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
½ cup milk
3 small eggs (I used size 6’s)
1 ¼ cups brown sugar
1 ¾ cups standard flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
50 g / 1 ¾ oz butter
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or 6 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons milk
¾ cup icing sugar (powdered/confectioners sugar)
½ cup walnut halves (6 tablespoons if using pieces)
STEP BY STEP
First, if it isn’t softened already, cut the butter into small cubes (to help it soften quicker) and leave it out on the bench.
Next line a standard sized, 21 cm L x 11 cm W x 6 cm D loaf tin with non-stick baking paper or as I have aluminium foil and then spray it with non-stick cooking spray.
- I often line cake and loaf tins with aluminium foil, a baker I worked for always did it and I got hooked! It’s quick, easy and often less fussy.
Now place a rack just below the centre of the oven and turn it to 150°C/300°F fan bake/convection oven or 175°C/350 °F conventional oven, on bake.
Into a medium-sized bowl place the coffee and add to it 1 1/2 tablespoons of boiling water, stirring the two together until the coffee has dissolved.
Then add to the coffee in this order, the vanilla, the milk, the eggs, the brown sugar, the flour and lastly, sitting on top of the flour, the baking powder.
- If you are new to baking, you may wonder why I said ‘in this order’ and ‘sit the baking powder on top of the flour’. I do it this way so that the baking powder doesn’t get wet until I start mixing as baking powder starts working when it gets wet and you don’t want it to start working until it’s in the oven where it’ll help your loaf to rise. 🙂
Now add the butter but first check that it is soft enough (it needs to be as soft as possible without it being melted). If it’s not, pop it in the microwave on half (50) power for 20-second increments until it is. Or you may have seen this trick…..
Find a bowl big enough to cover your butter and fill it with hot water from the tap (as hot as it goes!). Quickly tip out the water and thoroughly dry the bowl. Then place the bowl upside down over the butter until you get the desired softness and repeat if you have to.
So once you have nice, squishy butter add that to the other ingredients and using an electric mixer on a medium/high-speed mix it all together, stopping as soon as it’s lump-free.
Pour the batter into the lined tin and place it into your hot oven for 55 minutes or until it springs back when gently pressed in the centre or/and when a sharp knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Occasionally when I bake this loaf, even though my butter is really soft I will still have tiny flecks of butter through my batter after mixing it, if you do too don’t worry it’ll still turn out great. 🙂
Once it’s done, leave it in the tin, on a wire rack for around 30 minutes to cool down.
Meanwhile turn the oven up to 160°C/325°F fan bake/convection oven or 180°C/350°F conventional oven, on bake.
If you are using walnut halves, roughly chop them up and place them or pieces on a baking tray and toast them in the oven for 8 – 10 minutes or until they are two shades darker (tossing them once after 5 minutes). Then set them aside.
After the loaf has cooled down for half an hour remove it from the tin (foil and all) and place it onto a chopping board. Peel the foil or paper down from the sides and leave it to totally cool down before you make the icing.
Peel the foil or paper from the sides and leave it to totally cool down before you make the icing.
Add to a medium-sized saucepan the butter, the brown sugar and the milk.
Over a medium/high heat, stirring often, bring it all to a boil and then remove it from the heat.
Add the icing sugar and whisk it in until it’s lump-free.
Spread it over the top of the loaf and leave it until it’s firm to touch.
Use a serrated knife to slice it into 8 slices and then sprinkle over and gently press on the walnut pieces.
- I thinly slice off the ends before I slice it so I can layer it on a plate nicely and then, I mean only if you really want to, you can eat those bits to see if it’s good enough to serve up to your friends, lol. You may be tempted to cut it into more slices but then you may run the risk of them being too thin and breaking apart when they are buttered.
This loaf has a lovely texture…..
I like to lay mine out like this…..
Enjoy with good friends. 🙂
Keep it fresh by storing it in an airtight container in the pantry for up to 3 days, keeping the slices together to help it stay moist.
Do your loaves have a crater running through the centre? Do you mind it or would you rather a nice flat, slightly rounded top?