A traditional 2lb loaf tin does not weigh two pounds, nor does it cost £2 – even the cheapest model will set you back about £2.50. It is called that because it is designed to accommodate 2lb of bread dough – about 900g.
So, it is not a size, but a rough measure of capacity – any 2lb loaf tin will hold about 1.5l of water. The shape, however, will vary from tin to tin – some are broad and shallow, like a barge, others high-sided, like a removal van. But they all do the same job and they are all good for a lot more than a beginner’s lockdown loaf. Here are 17 uses for an ordinary loaf tin – and not one of them is banana bread. If you are still looking for ways to use up old bananas, you need to stop buying bananas.
A good place to start is plain old bread – specifically, Dan Lepard’s sour cream sandwich loaf. While it is possible to knock up endless free-form, rustic loaves at home, the point of the tin is to make bread that in some way resembles the stuff you buy in a shop: sharp-cornered, sandwich friendly, toaster ready. Lepard’s method relies on a quick knead – about 10 seconds – repeated at 10 minute intervals, plus a final rise in the tin. In this, and in every recipe here, you would be wise first to line your tin with greaseproof paper, even if the loaf tin in question is non-stick. If you like living dangerously, feel free to ignore this warning and accept the consequences.
Claire Thomson’s porridge bread makes good use of leftover cold porridge, mixed in with the white flour. For a darker, gluten-free bread, Lepard offers multiseed and molasses bread. Besides molasses (or black treacle), the recipe requires a mix of potato starch, cornflour, rice flour, psyllium husk, egg white and a selection of seeds. But because there is no gluten, there is no need to knead: you end up with a sort of batter that firms itself up as it rises.
Loaf tins are not just for bread – you can also use them to make loaf-shaped cakes, a pound cake being one of the best and simplest. Traditionally, pound cake contained a pound of each of the four main ingredients (flour, butter, sugar and eggs), but you don’t need a maths degree to realise that this would overwhelm a 2lb tin. Instead, try this recipe for vanilla pound cake, which calls for 200g of each (that means three eggs), along with a teaspoon of untraditional, but wholly welcome, baking powder.
Drizzle cake is another loaf tin standard. Felicity Cloake’s perfect version is a close relative to pound cake, with some ground almonds and lemon zest thrown in and, of course, the drizzle. Fergus Henderson’s seed cake, meanwhile, is one of the few dedicated elevenses recipes out there, best administered with a glass of something while lunch is still a distant prospect. The seed in question is caraway; the something should be madeira.
Rachel Roddy’s marmalade cake is yet another variation – the proportions are the same as for pound cake, although the amounts here suggest a 1lb loaf tin may be a more suitable size. Tamal Ray’s blood orange syrup loaf is a gluten-free option, using polenta instead of flour. In an emergency, you could profitably employ regular oranges.
Ruby Tandoh’s blueberry loaf cake is made with yoghurt and almond oil (although she says sunflower oil, with a little added vanilla, works as a substitute). Delia Smith has a recipe for dark Jamaican gingerbread that will allow you to get more use out of that tin of black treacle or molasses you bought to make Lepard’s bread.
Your loaf tin can also serve as a mould for savoury dishes, most famously meatloaf. There are countless wildly different variations on this classic American dish and I have hit on a few bad ones while trying to recreate the kind my mother made. As ever, it is wisest to rely on Cloake’s definitive version: after some experimentation, she settles on a recipe containing, among other things, spinach, yoghurt, eggs, garlic, brown sugar and ketchup. If you are looking for something elementary – and very much in the humble, no-nonsense spirit of the dish – you could have a go at this five-ingredient meatloaf: mince, bacon, sage-and-onion stuffing mix, a beef stock cube and sunflower oil. If you don’t like the sound of that list, don’t be surprised if you don’t like meatloaf.
As far as I am concerned, a terrine tin and a loaf tin are the same thing – if you have one, you have both. This means that as soon as you have turned out your bread you can use the tin to whip up a paté de campagne. Once again, I am passing on Cloake’s hard-won expertise, alongside a warning that this will amount to rather more than a lazy afternoon’s work. Plus, you may have to source some caul fat. Another option is this festive-sounding duck and pork terrine with cranberries and pistachios, which has the advantage of being rather easier to pull together.
A terrine need not be a savoury dish – your loaf tin can give shape to all sorts of desserts and puddings. This coffee ice-cream terrine, for example, is made up of layers of coffee and vanilla ice-cream, cemented together with chocolate sauce and left to set hard in the freezer.
Chocolate caramel terrine is another layered pudding – this time a caramel, mascarpone, chocolate and cream mixture interspersed with caramel wafers cut to fit your loaf tin. More impressive still is Liam Charles’s rhubarb and honey panna cotta terrine: a blondie biscuit base with rhubarb jelly on top and panna cotta in between. If you feel uncomfortable making something like that in the same loaf tin you used for meatloaf last week, then I am with you. Best to buy another one for desserts – you can get them for about £2.50.