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Food! Lardy Cake. Warning an Addictive and Fattening Recipe! From Wiltshire and Berkshire, I find it Irresistible.
Warm crusty Delight
Lardy cake is not for any one concerned about their weight or any one allergic to gluten, or diabetic. Lardy Cake is for Trenchermen who appreciate the warm, crispy, toffee like ooziness. Lardy Cake is traditional in Wiltshire in the South West of England This is because Wiltshire is a county famous for pig breeding. Lard is rendered pig fat.. As a girl I lived in Berkshire, an adjoining county, in what was then a little rural town called Twyford. It was a sleepy little farming community. Here William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, lived before he left for greener pastures in the New World. The River Loddon split in two and gave the village its name. As children we fished in the river as it meandered its way to join the busy Thames. Kingfishers darted from bush to bush, grass snakes slithered into its gentle current to swim from bank to bank. Perch, Gudgeon, Tench, and Roach drifted by joined by Barbel at the Weir where it joined the Thames at St Patrick's stream. The village was a sleepy, peaceful place in those days not like the busy, dormitory town, full of commuters to London, that it is now.
But I digress. In the village center, next to the pub and the fishing gear shop was a Bakery, a real old bakery where bread was baked in round, wood fired brick ovens every day except for Sunday. The Bakery also had a Muffin Man who would walk around the village ringing his bell and carrying a tray of freshly baked, delicious muffins on his head. Not the cup cake kind but flat English ones. There is an old nursery rhyme "Do you know the Muffin Man, the Muffin Man, who lives in Drury Lane"? ( see below) Well our village had a real one, he could have been the last of a dying breed. The point of this story though is the Lardy Cake. It was baked several times a week. One sniff of the smell of warm lardy cake and you will never forget it. The richness of the aroma will be lodged in your being forever, rather like a whiff of Lavender, you know instantly what it is.
Lardy cake is made from plain white bread dough, just like the dough used to make the standard loaves of bread. The baker taught me how to make it and he gave me a pound of risen dough to take home. The dough is rolled into an oblong about a half inch thick and about twice as long as it is wide. chunks of lard (sorry dieters!) are then placed on half of the dough along with brown sugar, spices and dried fruit, The oblong dough is the folded in half, turned 90 degrees (quarter turn) and rolled again where the process is repeated. Another layer of lard, fruit, sugar and spice is then placed on the enriched dough which is formed into a shape to fit a greased baking tin. The plump little loaf is then lovingly coated with honey and marked inti diamonds with a blunt knife so as to dent it rather than cut it. The completed delight is then offered up to a hot oven for just over half an hour.
When baked, the lardy cake will be a rich brown, not dark, not light but gleaming with plumptiousness. Most people turn it over in the baking tray to soak up the rich toffee like sauce but if you are a dieter you may skip this step. Lardy cake should be served warm at any time of the day for a very satisfying snack (with the calories of a meal!). It is often served at tea time. Should you be fortunate enough to be invited to tea on the Buckingham Palace lawn with her Majesty the Queen, I have it on good authority that Lardy cake is served there. Sadly, recipes like this do not fit into today's calorie conscious way of eating. I make no excuse for publishing it here. This is a treat these days, hence it is being served at high end restaurants. I am sure that when the Lardy Cake was first made in the olden days, it was probably just a way to use up left over bread dough. How so ever it was invented, It is worth bringing to your attention, so you can try it for yourself in all its deliciousness. I hope you enjoy it.
Half Lb Strong White Bread Flour
1 tsp dried yeast Pinch of salt Qtr pint warm water
Spices: Cinnamon Nutmeg Allspice Quarter Lb Lard Dark brown sugar
1oz Sultanas 1 oz Raisins 1 oz Currents 1 oz Candied Peel (if liked) Chopped
Mix yeast with a little brown sugar and add to warm water, when bubbles start to form, add to flour and pinch of salt, mix well then knead until elastic dough is formed. Leave in a warm place covered with a tea towel until dough has doubled in size You may like to start the dough in a bread maker
Take the dough and shape and fill as described above, adding sugar to taste or not at all. Place in a greased baking tin. Score into diamonds. Glaze with a little honey.
Bake in a hot oven, 425 F gas mark 7 until golden brown for about 35 to 40 minutes. Some people like to turn the cake upside down so that all the juices are absorbed into the cake while it cools slightly.
Cut into thick slices and serve warm. Also good as a dessert served with custard or ice cream .
Photos 2-5 courtesy Flikr.