Disclaimer: If you are vegetarian or into low fat you probably want to skip this post which is essentially an ode to pork fat. I apologise in advance to anyone who is offended. I offer you a carrot of peace.
Almost immediately after moving to the US we realised that our diet would not be the same as in England. Sadly, we took for granted that we could buy free range eggs, meats, and raw milk and organic vegetables down the road. British food involves a lot of stews, rich, stodgy desserts, and roast meats: autumn food at it’s best. Whenever it gets cold my craving for animal fats increases and it’s something I’ve been missing in the world where every piece of meat (even organic/pastured) is trimmed of rind and fat. So imagine my delight when my husband came home with this.
A tub full of high quality, pastured, porky lard. Lard has such a bad name and I wish I could go on a crusade to bring it back in fashion. Not only is it delicious (which it is) but it is the perfect frying medium and what people used before the world of trans-fat hydrogenated shortening. If you subscribe to the “Nourishing Traditions” dietary advice, then good quality lard from free ranging pork is positively good for you. Your granny would probably agree.
What does a person do with a load of lard? Make lardy cake of course.
Lardy cake is one of those English delights that you can only find in obscure village bakeries, and is probably only bought by old boys who still say “by jove!” It is a cross between a bread and a croissant, yeasted dough laminated with lard (no butter allowed), spices and currants. After baking you turn the cake over so that none of the precious fat escapes. The result is a crispy crust and flakey, moist insides, rich with sugar, spices and fruit. It is remarkably similar to a cinnamon bun, but much more filling, with a slight savoury character. Perfect for food for those long winter walks or a day out in the fields.
For me, this is the taste of the English countryside. A combination of slightly sweet, fat enriched cake and a strong cup of tea. The comforting taste of home.