I'm not sure that this is the most appetising name for a foodstuff. But, it is what it claims - a 'cake' (or perhaps more properly a bread) made with lard. And I'll not lie, it's made with lots of lard. But strange as it may sound, the Lardy Cake is possibly the most wonderfully delicious baked treat EVER. I urge you to seek one out.
Lardy Cakes originated in the pig-farming counties of Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. I guess they had to use all that lard for something. When we lived in Wiltshire, on the edge of the New Forest, our local village bakery sold the most amazing Lardy Cakes - so amazing that they were locally rather famous and you had no chance of getting your hands on one if you turned up much after 9.30 on a Saturday morning. However, it's a long time since we have sampled such a treat; indeed I had almost forgotten about their very existence... until we stopped in the small town of Burford on our way to a week's holiday in Shropshire after Easter.
I couldn't resist popping my head round the door of a lovely looking bakery on the High Street, and when I spotted a tray of spiralled, sticky, 'individual' Lardy Cakes, I couldn't resist going further and buying one. And - oh my! - this was good. I had never seen Lardy Cakes in this smaller size, or spiralled in such a way, but both of these things managed to increase the ratio of sticky-surface-area to soft doughy inner. Which is a very good thing.
On my return home from Shropshire, I was inspired to try making a Lardy Cake myself. I found many recipes online, but settled for this one, mainly because it used dried yeast as opposed to fresh, and I had some that needed using up.
The method is simple. Make a basic bread dough, and let it prove before rolling it out and dotting it with butter, lard (of course), sugar and dried fruit (minus the mixed peel for me - yuk!).
A few folds, more dotting, more folds, more dotting, etc, etc, builds up a lovely loaf layered with sweet fruit and fat ready to melt into the bread.
Here's the finished loaf. When I said that I had yeast that needed using up... I think I was a little too late! It had lost much of its raising-powers, so the Lardy Cake ended up quite flat. It was also not quite sweet enough for my taste so we ended up sprinkling warmed slices of it with cinnamon sugar - a delicious plan. The outer edges were however amazing. It was almost as if they had been fried (which I suppose they had in a way) - a crispy contrast to the sweet bread inside.
I'm keen to try this again because, nice as it was, I think it could be better. I'd love to experiment with a slightly different recipe, or perhaps adapt this one a little (better yeast, more sugar). Watch this space!