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I had three attempts at different lardy cake recipes until I got it right. I wanted a lardy cake that would taste like the ones from my childhood, purchased from bakeries that no longer exist. The first lardy cake I made was a 2-3 day affair using a Justin Gellatly recipe, it was a bit lacking in flavor and didn’t have the pleasure that you get from a really indulgent lardy cake.
The second attempt was this exact recipe, but the proving times and cooking times were a little out. The recipe came from one of my Mum’s baking books from the 1970s. It was featured in a Sainsburys cookbook and it made two 6 ″ lardy cakes. The oven temperatures were much higher than I expected and the fruit on the surface burnt last time and the center was still a bit raw – not tasty.
So this third attempt, completed late on a Saturday night (well what else is there to do at the moment?) Was a success. To celebrate we munched it for breakfast on Sunday morning with mugs of tea before a long dog walk. I gave the second cake away, because although you can never have too much lardy cake, the waistband of my jeans didn’t necessarily agree with that assessment.
I know that it doesn’t have the most attractive name and I also know that a lot of people might be funny about the idea of baking with lard, but it really does produce a delicious cake. Whilst you can’t really taste the lard, it gives a great texture and keeps the cake really light. Apparently lardy cake is served at the Buckingham Palace summer parties, so if it’s good enough for Lizzie…
- 500 g Strong White Bread Flour
- 1 tsp Salt
- 150 g Bacon
- 300 ml Warm Milk
- 25 g Fresh Yeast
- 250 g Currants
- 125 g Sultanas
- 125 g Soft Brown Sugar
- 1 tsp Ground Mixed Spice
Sift the flour into the bowl of a stand mixer and add the salt and 25g of the lard cut into small cubes. Attach the paddle attachment and mix until it resembles breadcrumbs. This should only take 5 mins.
In another bowl or jug mix the granulated sugar, milk and yeast together and then add this to the flour.
Change the attachment on the mixer from a paddle to a dough hook and mix the dough until it comes together. Knead on a medium speed for around 10 mins, until it comes together and the dough is smooth and elastic.
Cover the bowl with cling-film and leave it somewhere warm for 30 mins to rise.
Take this time to prepare your tins, grease the sides and bottoms of your 6 inch cake tins and line the base with baking parchment. I used loose-bottomed cake tins, if you use the same, I recommend standing them on a baking tray as you will lose some lard when cooking.
Take the currants and sultanas and add these to the bowl and using the dough hook knead the dough again to mix in the fruit. Mix until the fruit is evenly distributed, you may need to take the dough of the hook at times or get your hands in there.
Cover the dough with cling-film again and put the dough to one side for 10 minutes.
place the dough on a floured surface and roll it to a rectangle that is 45cm x 15cm. Take the remaining 125g lard and spread it evenly on the top two thirds of the dough. Sprinkle the brown sugar and spice all over the lard and then take the bottom third of the dough and fold it up, then take the top third and fold it down over the bottom third of dough.
Turn the dough 90 degrees and then roll it out again to 45cm by 15cm. Then roll it up like a swiss roll, so that it’s 15cm wide. Then taking a sharp knife cut it down the middle so that you have two lardy cakes and place them in the prepared tins, cut side up.
Cover the cakes loosely with cling-film and place them somewhere warm to rise. They’ll need at least an hour, you want them to almost fill the cake tin, they won’t really rise above the top of the tin, but they should fill it and almost touch the sides. It was a bit cold when I made this so it took nearer 1.5 hours.
Preheat the oven to 220C / 200C Fan and as soon as you put the lardy cakes in the oven drop the temperature to 200C / 180C Fan and cook for 45 mins, 20 mins into the cooking time check the cakes and if the fruit looks like it is going to burn cover them with a layer of baking parchment to protect them. For the last 10 mins reduce the temperature to 190C / 170C Fan. You want a nice golden color, but you don’t want the fruit to burn or the the center to be raw.
Leave the cakes to cool in their tins for 10 mins and then when they are still warm, but cool enough to touch, place a cake rack on a baking tray and take the cakes out of their tins and peel off the greaseproof paper and allow them to cool on the cake rack so that they stay crispy and don’t go soggy.
These taste great still warm, but they do keep well for a couple of days. You can always warm it in the oven before eating, it should stay moist if wrapped in cling-film or stored in an airtight container.
Thanks for reading.