The cake is more a rich bread and is crunchy on the outside and soft and doughy on the inside - the ultimate comfort food. Lardy cake originated in Wiltshire in England and is very popular throughout the West Country. It's served in the afternoon with tea and is traditionally made for holidays and harvest festivals. It's basically a yeast bread dough which is layered with currants and raisins, sugar and lard. It can be very hard to get hold of pork-fat lard, so if you can't get any from your butcher, you can substitute it with dripping, which is beef fat.
- Put 300ml of warm water into a jug and dissolve a pinch of sugar in it. Sprinkle the granulated yeast over the top, stirring gently, then leave in a warm place for 10 to 15 minutes until the yeast activates and starts to froth.
- Meanwhile, put the flour and salt in a bowl and take 15g of the lard or dripping and rub in with your fingers. Make a well in the middle and put in the yeast mixture, stirring until you have a dough which leaves the sides of the bowl clean. You may need to add a little more water.
- Put the dough on a floured surface and knead it for 10 minutes until it becomes smooth. Put back in the bowl, cover with a towel and leave in a warm place for an hour or until it has doubled in size.
- Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and roll into a rectangle which is about 5mm thick. Dot over the surface a third of the remaining lard, the fruit and peel and the sugar, and sprinkle a little cinnamon over. Fold the dough in three as you would a letter you were going to post, bringing the bottom third up and the top third down. Turn 45degC then repeat twice. Roll out, sprinkle, fold and then roll out, sprinkle, fold and roll out again.
- Grease a 20cm x 25cm baking dish and roll the dough to fit it. Place the dough in the tin and leave in a warm place for half an hour until it puffs up. Score a criss-cross pattern across the top with a knife, then bake at 250degC for about half an hour - or until golden and crispy.
- Let stand for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack, leaving it upside down so the melted lard at the bottom of the tin can soak through the cake.
- Serve sliced with tea or coffee.