Lardy cake is very much a family affair. My grandparents swear by the cake made at a bakery in Oxford’s covered market, and for years I’ve been bringing my grandmother back a cake whenever I go there. At home, we have it for tea, warmed in the oven and sticky with sugar and lard. People outside the family circle are always a bit bemused by the idea, but usually are quickly converted if they can be persuaded to try some. The other day, one such cake was brought home, but my brother troughed it all before my parents had had any. Because it was partially my fault for not controlling him (that boy needs controlling when it comes to food – you should see him demolish a pack of satsumas) I decided to make one in penance. Last week was Bonfire Night, and hearty British food was all the rage.

I looked at a few recipes online, most of which didn’t involve lard, controversially, clearly in deference to misguided ideas about health. Others were too simple, it seemed, although it turns out that simple is definitely what you should go for. This recipe is essentially white bread dough smeared with lard mixed with sugar and dried fruit. Be warned, these quantities grow enormously, so I ended up with two cakes – although that is no bad thing.  The original recipe has candied peel, but I took this out as unneccessary messing about with perfection.

Lardy Cake

200g lard
50g butter
200g mixed dried fruit
200g granulated sugar
for the dough:
650g strong white bread flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp caster sugar
7g sachet yeast
200ml warm water
Make the dough by mixing the dry ingrediants together, then add the warm water a bit at a time until you get a doughy ball.  Knead the ball for about 10 minutes.
Then soften the lard and butter in the microwave – not so much that it loses it’s shape, just enough to make it pliable.  Mix the sugar, fruit and softened lard and butter together until well combined.
Roll out the dough to a fairly thin layer.  Place some of the lard mixture in the middle, then join the two edges together, and roll out again (this is to get the nice layered look).  Add the rest of the lard mixture.  Then leave the dough in a baking tray for about 30 minutes – by this time you’ll have a monster of a dough.  I cut mine in half and saved the second for the next day, you could do the same or halve the recipe.  Or just eat a lardy cake twice the size of your head, I won’t judge.  Cook at gas mark 5/190 degrees C for about 30 minutes.  Serve warm.
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