A recent visit to Emma Bradshaw's gorgeous blog prompted a trip down memory lane for me. Lardy Cake. Isn't that the best name ever for a cake? No messing, no fancy title, just a cake made with lard. When I was a child we would buy it from the local bakery as a treat at the weekend. I most associate it with going sailing, as my parents would often pack one to eat on the boat. I once asked my Dad why we so often did that and he said it was so full of fat, sugar and carbohydrate that it kept the cold wind out. Sort of like a nautical equivalent of Kendal Mint Cake, that high calorie snack people take on walking or climbing expeditions.
I thought everyone had heard of it, but I later realised that it is a regional thing. It's really a type of white bread from the South West of England, baked with lard, sugar and raisins, so that it becomes a doughy cake with a wonderful sugary crust. It was readily available where I grew up in Hampshire. I think it's fallen out of fashion a bit lately. Maybe that's because of the demise of the local bakery, as much as people not wanting to eat a lard and sugar laden bread!
So I thought I'd have a go at making some. The best recipe I could find was from The Fabulous Baker Brothers book. The recipe is on the Channel 4 website with a very handy video as well. I altered the quantities as the recipe on the website makes three cakes, which I thought was a bit much so I divided it by three then doubled it to give me enough to make two. It's pretty easy to make, you just need to allow time for the dough to rise at the beginning and the end.
370g strong white bread flour
pinch of salt
7g dried yeast
200ml warm water
a handful of raisins and sultanas
and for the lard and sugar mix:
330g caster sugar
plus extra sugar for sprinkling
Place the dough on top, with the flat side on the bottom and the layered, knotted side on top.