Lardy Cake - plus a Chinese pastry that shares some similar traits
Another yummy loaf from Dan Lepard's "A Handmade Loaf". According to Wiki:
"Lardy cake, also known as Lardy bread, Lardy Johns, Dough cake and Fourses cake is a traditional rich spiced form of bread originating in Wiltshire in the South West of England, which has also been popular throughout the West Country and in Oxford and Suffolk.
The main ingredients are freshly rendered lard, flour, sugar, spices, currants and raisins."
As I was reading this and the formula on how it's shaped, I was struck by how similar it is to some Chinese traditional pastries. Lard was the main fat in Chinese cooking for a long time. In fact, I have fond memories of lots of traditional foods such as "lard veggie rice", "lard sugar pastries", "lard sticky rice cake", etc. In another word, I am not "lard-phobic" like some, in fact, I probably like my pork and pork fat as much as Homer Simpson!
The recipe is pretty quick and easy since it's mostly raised by dry yeast, with some white starter to boost flavor. My only changes are: to use instant dry yeast rather than fresh, and 100% starter rather than 80% in the book.
Lardy Cake (Adapted From "A Handmade Loaf")
bread flour, 500g
white starter (100%), 220g
instant dry yeast, 5g
lard, 150g, thin slices
powder sugar, 150g
nutmeg & powdered sugar to springkle on top
1. mix flour, salt, starter, water, autolyse, mix until smooth
2. bulk rise at room temp (70F - 77F) for 1.5 hours until double
3. roll out into rectangle, thickness about 1/2inch, spread lard pieces on 2/3 of the rectangle, then spread sugar on top.
4. fold the uncovered 1/3 to on top of the middle 1/3
5. fold to the left again to encase all of the fillings. press to seal
6. turn 90 degrees, roll out, and do the same letter fold again
7. put in a cool place (I put in fridge) for 30min to relax
8. roll out into a rectangle again, then roll up from the long side like a jelly roll
9. cut in the middle, roll one of them into a spiral, cut side up
10. put in a 10inch round mold, and continue the spiral with the other half of the dough, cut side up.
11. cover and rise until double, about 1 hour at 77F.
12. springkle with nutmeg and more sugar
13. bake at 400F for 20min, then 350 for 40min
14. cool in pan for 15min then cool on rack. some lard will leak out, I have seen instructions saying to cool the bread upside down so lard can be absorbed back into the loaf, if you want maximum lard impact, it's worth a try.
You must like the taste of lard in order to like this bread, I love it! However, it does need to be reheated (<1min in microwave will do) before eating, the combo of lard and sugar is heavenly when warm. When cold, it's just too greasy.
It reminds me of a childhood favorite: "lard sugar pastry", also full of lard, laminated, with sugar inside, burned my mouth many times eating it, but I couldn't wait for it to cool. But that pastry didn't have yeast, it was more like a danish dough.
Who knew English and Chinese foods are so similar? :P
Just to compare, here's some Chinese laminated pastries(抹茶酥) using lard as fat (no yeast), the filling here is red bean paste. I added matcha powder (green tea) in the dough, so they are green.