Monday, December 16, 2013

Babes Celebrate December...La-la-la-Lardy Cake

The Bread Baking Babes welcome mid-December with a sweet and delicious Modern Lardy Cake. The cake used to be baked with lard, but the modern version uses butter. Ever the iconclast, I baked it with lard, using a recipe from The River Cottage Bread Handbook by Daniel Stevens, mostly because my niece was able to get fresh rendered lard from the store in San Francisco where she is a manager; Bi-Rite Market. Thank you T! We had a great time baking together and the resulting Lardy Cake was moist and fragrant with cinnamon. Some of the lard and cinnamon sugar seeped to the bottom of the pan and made a nice, crackly and sticky crust. Since you serve the cake upside down, that becomes the top crust...really lovely. As Lien says "Lardy cake is not a cake, but a bread that is laminated with lard with some raisins or currants."

I had every intention of also making the modern version, but have had the stomach flu lately and ran out of time for this post. Be sure to check out my fellow Babes's versions to see how they made theirs. Links to their sites are on the web version of this post, at the right, bottom.

I'm going to print the modern version first, and at the bottom the old fashioned lardful version in case you want to make it with lard. Having fresh pig fat (which is what lard really is) did add a nice flavor that is different from butter. The cake was very tender, too, which might be because of the lard. The top crust certainly benefited from the lard element...nice and crisp.

Don't forget to e-mail Lien, our Kitchen of the Month, if you make the Lardy Cake and want to be a Bread Baking Buddy. She'll send you a nice Buddy badge and include you in the round-up at the end of the month.

Modern Lardy cake

375 g strong white flour
1 ½ tsp active dry yeast
1 TBsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
35 g butter, melted and cooled
± 200 ml milk, warmed

100 g butter, softened
75 g soft dark brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
50-75 g currants or raisins (or a mix)
beaten egg, to glaze

24 cm (9 in) round cake tin (pref. a springform)

Put all the dough ingredients in a large mixing bowl and knead  (preferably with a dough hook in a heavy duty mixer) until smooth and supple. Bring the dough together in a ball and return to the bowl. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

To make the filling butter, sugar and spices together until creamy.

Knock the risen dough back and re-knead it briefly. Roll it out to a rectangle  about 50 x 25 cm (20 x 10 in). Spread the filling evenly over two-thirds of the dough sheet, leaving one outer third empty and about 4 cm (1 ½ inch) on all sides. If using, sprinkle the dried fruit over this and press down to embed. Fold the empty third over the middle third and the remaining third over this. Pinch all the edges well to seal the filling in. Cover with a sheet of clingfilm and leave to rest for about 5 minutes to relax.

Give the parcel a quarter turn and roll it into a rectangle about 30 x 15 cm (12 x 6 in). Fold into thirds again and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Repet this procedure three more times, turning the dough by a quarter turn and rolling and folding. If you find you are losing too much filling, omit the final turn.

This is a delicate, difficult and messy work as the filling oozes out in weak spots. Patch them up as good as you can and continue to work. All the oozing bits will caramelize nicely as the cake bakes. But you don’t want to loose too much filling as the laminating effect.
Grease the tin and put the dough packet in it, then flatten it with your hand to fit it in as well as possible. Cover with clingfilm and leave it to rise until almost doubled.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF).

Brush the dough with beaten egg, then lightly score a cross-hatched pattern onto the surface. Don’t cut into the filling. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until brown.
Remove from the oven, but leave in the tin for about 5 minutes. Carefully release the clip and turn the cake upside down on a wire rack. Remove the bottom of the tin, which will probably still be attached to it, and leave to cool further.
Eat lukewarm or cold, cut into wedges or slices.

(source: “Warm Bread and Honey Cake” by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra)

Lardy Cakes
The River Cottage Bread Handbook, by Daniel Stevens
" can be sure of two things: plenty of lard, but no cake - lardy cake is a bread."
Serves 8

2 cups (8.8 oz/250g) white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
2/3 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons (0.18 oz/5g) instant yeast
1 teaspoon (0.18 oz/5g) fine salt
3/4 cup (5.6 oz/160g) lard
1/3 cup (1.8 oz/50g) golden raisins
1/3 cup (1.8 oz/50g) currants
1/3 cup (1.8 oz/50g) chopped candied citrus peel
3 1/2 tablespoons (1.8 oz/50g) superfine sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (ideally, freshly ground in a spice mill)

Combine the flour, water, yeast, and salt in a bowl and mix to a soft dough. Melt 2 teaspoons of the lard and incorporate it into the dough, then turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Put into a clean bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in size.

In a separate bowl, toss the dried fruit and candied peel with the sugar and cinnamon. Cut the rest of the lard into small dice. (I chilled mine after dicing by placing the diced lard on a piece of parchment paper, supported by a cookie sheet.)

Tip the dough out onto a clean work surface and press all over with your fingertips to deflate. Roll out to a rectangle about 3/8 inch thick. Scatter half the dried fruit and lard pieces over the dough, then roll up from a short side to enclose the filling.

Give the dough a quarter turn and roll it out again to a rectangle, as before. Scatter the remaining fruit and lard piecs over the dough and roll up again. Roll out the dough to an 8-inch square and place in a greased deep 8-inch square baking pan. Let rise for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the lardy cake for 30 to 40 minutes, until well risen and golden brown. Let cool slightly in the pan for 10 - 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Placing the lardy cake upside down will allow the melted lard to be reabsorbed into the dough as it cools. Serve warm or cold, cut into slices.

My notes;
This recipe is exactly as printed in the book, with the addition of my note about chilling the lard. When typing it out it seemed to me that some of the measurements might be off. When I made it, I found that there wasn't nearly enough water if you are using the cups and tablespoon measurements. Perhaps the ounces or grams measurements are better. The water and cinnamon don't have those measurements, which seems odd, and the oven temperature setting doesn't have Celsius or gas mark, either.

I think that the water should have been 1 2/3 cups...a lot more water. Otherwise it seemed to be OK.


  1. Loved your bottom on this one ;-)
    I tried to find lard but I wasn't going to settle for not fresh and I really want to try with goose fat.
    Hope you're feeling better soon.

  2. Your bread with real lard has a wonderful shine to it! Hope you'll find the time to bake the modern version :)

  3. Wow, I love the look of all that beautifully caramelized sugar on the bottom!

    I hope you're feeling better soon. I'm really curious to hear about how the traditional lardy cake differs from the modern version.

  4. You do have, er, I mean, you did make a rather lovely bottom. The top looks good, too LOL. My mother only and always baked with lard. Not here, but ample supplies of goose and duck fat LOL
    Feel better fast.

  5. Cant believe I missed your lardy bottom!!
    Hehe no Elle you made a wonderful one, I really like the layering in all your lardy loaves!

  6. Good gosh how did I miss coming here sooner? Yours is stunning - and with real lard?!! I love that it had all the seapy caramelized "crust" yet is still fliffy with beautiful layers. Stunning!

    Happy Holidays!