Lardy Cake. What better name could there be for a delicious bread that is made with mainly lard? Eric & I recently found out that River Cottage has a bread book. If you’re not familiar with River Cottage, I’d recommend checking out some of their books from the library. If you’re anything like us, you will then want to own all of them after flipping through the beautiful photos and wonderful recipes. Anyhow, I want to tell you about this cake, well, bread really, that we made. It’s got raisins, currants, cinnamon, and a bit of sugar in it, all weighed down by a hefty amount of lard. It reminds me of frybread, but baked instead of fried.
We baked this bread to bring over to eat during the Packers game on Sunday, which in retrospect may have been a bad decision. This isn’t exactly the kind of bread you want to tear huge chunks off and gorge yourself on, (exactly like we did) lest you want to feel like death for a few hours afterwards (again, like we did). After doing some reading about this bread, I learned it’s traditionally served during the holidays, or on special occasions. That makes sense, since it’s so rich. I don’t regret eating it thoughtlessly while cheering on our team, but maybe for your sake share it with a bunch of people, and eat it slowly. It’d probably be a wonderful Christmas morning treat served with coffee or tea.
Adapted from the River Cottage Bread Handbook.
( Serves 8 )
2 cups (8.8 ounces/250g) white bread flour, plus extra for dusting.
2/3 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp (.18 ounce/5g) instant yeast
1 tsp (.18 ounce/5g) fine salt
3/4 cup (5.6 ounces/160g) lard (I should tell you, Eric only used around 2/3 a cup of it in ours)
1/3 cup (1.8 ounces/50g) golden raisins
1/3 cup (1.8 ounces/50g) currants
1/3 cup (1.8 ounces/50g) chopped candied citrus peel (we just added a bit of zest & squeezed some orange)
3 1/2 T (1.8 ounces/50g) superfine sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon (ideally, freshly ground)
1. Combine flour, water, yeast, & salt- mix to a soft dough. Melt 2 tsp of lard and mix it into the dough, then flip it out onto a floured surface & knead until smooth. Once your dough is nice and elastic-y, form into a ball and place in a covered bowl until it doubles in size. (30 mins to an hour)
2. Meanwhile, mix the dried fruit & candied orange peel with the sugar & cinnamon. Cut the rest of the lard into little pieces.
3. Once the dough has risen, dump it your clean work surface and deflate it with your fingertips by pressing all over the dough making little divots throughout.
4.Roll it out to be a rectangle about 3/8 inch thick. Scatter half of your fruit/sugar mixture and lard pieces all over the dough, and then roll it up from a shorter side to enclose the filling. (it’ll look quite like cinnamon rolls at this point)
5.Repeat step 4, using the rest of your mixture & lard.
6.Roll the dough into an 8-inch square, place in a greased deep 8-inch square baking pan, and let rise for 30 minutes.
7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake the bread for 30-40 minutes, or until it’s golden brown and risen. Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes or so, then flip it upside-down onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Upside-down, so all that lard can melt back into the rest of the bread as it cools. (I imagine this as a pretty important step.)
I can’t tell you how this bread is once it’s cooled, but it’s dang good served warm.