Friday, 13 July 2012

Lardy Cake

Lardy cake. Even uttering the words have been known to add inches to the waistline. Although called a cake, it's somewhere between a fruit loaf and a doughnut, with a rich and syrupy dough punctured with spicy hits of fruit. I've tinkered with a few recipes recently, but am very happy with this one. It has a really nice texture, soft and slightly chewy with little pockets of syrup and a sticky crust. I think the combination of fruit, spice and syrup work beautifully, but you can play about with the recipe if you prefer other flavours. I might add some orange and lemon extract next time or even (if I'm feeling particularly fiendish) throw some chocolate in there!

Prep time: 30 Minutes (Plus time to let the dough rise)
Baking time: 30 Minutes
10g Fresh Yeast
200ml Tepid Water
100g Caster Sugar (Plus 3tsp)
300g Strong White Bread Flour
1/2tsp Salt
75g Unsalted Butter (At room temperature)
75g Lard (At room temperature)
75g Luxury Mixed Dried Fruit
2tsp Mixed Spice

Right, you need to start with some pretty standard bread dough. Mix the yeast with the water and one teaspoon of the sugar, then tip in the flour and the salt. Start it off with a wooden spoon then transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for at least 7 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Return to a large, lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for about an hour, until doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen, take it out of the bowl and place on a floured surface. Roll out into a large rectangle, the dot over the butter (keeping one teaspoon of it back) and sprinkle over 50g of the sugar, half of the mixed fruit and 1tsp of the mixed spice. Fold both ends towards the middle so they overlap, press the sides down to seal, turn the dough 90 degrees and roll out again (to a similar size as before). This time dot over all of the lard and sprinkle over 50g of the sugar (You should have two teaspoons left over), the rest of the fruit and the spice. Fold each end over each other, again press the sides down to seal and roll out gently until it's large enough to fit into a 26 x 19cm baking tin that has been greased and had its base lined with baking paper. Carefully transfer the dough into the tin, then place in a large polythene bag and return it to a warm place for another hour.

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Remove the tin from the bag. Melt the teaspoon of butter you retained (I do this in the microwave) and gently brush over the top of the cake. Sprinkle over the final two teaspoons of sugar, then place in the centre of the oven to bake for 30 minutes, by which time the top should have become golden. When you're happy it's cooked remove the cake from the oven, leave in the tin for 30 minutes, then carefully turn out and leave to cool on a wire rack. You can let it go completely cold, but I prefer it warm with a nice cup of tea!

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