Lardy Buns, 16p.

Photograph by Graham Turner for The Guardian.

Photograph by Graham Turner for The Guardian.

I had my first lardy cake this summer, picked up from a surprisingly baked-goods-laden petrol station on the way home from Kent, and subsequently slept all the way home in the passenger seat off the back of a few mouthfuls of fat-laden, soft sweet carbohydrates. I set about researching how to make my own; half a block of lard still loafing in the fridge door from this year’s Live Below The Line challenge could finally be put to use. Definitely not one for every lunch of the week, but a good shoulders-down, satisfying, occasional winter comfort. To make a whole loaf, simply pat into a round and cook for an hour instead.

Makes 6 generously weighty ones at 16p each*

250g self raising flour, 9p
1/2 tsp table salt, <1p
6g fast action dried yeast (approx 1 tsp), 3p
100g lard, diced small, 18p
50g butter, diced small, 20p
150ml warm water
100g sultanas or other mixed dried fruit, 17p
50g sugar, 5p
1 tsp cinnamon, 7p (for arguments sake, I weighed a teaspoon of cinnamon to calculate this one, and it came up as 3.3g.)
1 free range egg to baste, 17p

First kickstart your yeast – spoon it into a mug and add 50ml of comfortably warm water – remember yeast is a living organism, so if it’s too hot for you it’s too hot for your yeast! Early on in my breadmaking days I made the mistake of using near-boiling water, foolishly thinking that the hotter it was the better rise I would get on my bread. My bread still rose, and was yummy, but these days it’s lighter and yummier with happier yeast. We live and learn. Set it to one side for a moment to start to bubble and grow, trust me, your bread will be better for it.

Next tip your flour into a large mixing bowl (some people like to sieve it to get more air into it, I’m not fussy) and add the salt, cinnamon and mixed dried fruit. Mix well to evenly distribute the ingredients.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, and pour in the yeast mixture. Mix well, adding the butter, lard, and the rest of the warm water gradually to form a soft dough. You might not need all of the water – it should be soft and pliable but not tacky. If it’s too dry and crumbly, add a splash more water. If it sticks to your fingers, add a tablespoon or two more flour. It’s rarely an exact science – all flours are not created equal – and I’m hardly in favour of prescriptive recipes anyway.

Lightly flour your work surface and hands, and tip the dough onto it. Knead it, using your knuckles and heel of your palm to stretch it out, folding it over, turning it, and repeating, until it is soft and springy. I came under fire last week for not giving an exact time for this procedure – there isn’t one. It depends on your patience levels, experience, strength, speed and technique, but basically your dough should be easy to work with and springy to touch. If it stiffens up, it usually means the gluten has overworked itself, just cover it and rest it for half an hour in a warm place to let it loosen up before giving it a quick knead again.

Pop the dough back into the bowl, cover with a clean tea towel or cling film, and pop in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size.

Pre heat your oven to 180C and lightly grease a baking tray. Add a bit more flour to your work surface, tip the dough out, and roll it out to around 1cm thick. Using a sharp knife, cut into strips around 3cm wide. Roll each up into a spiral, tucking the end under the bottom to tidy it up, and brushing the top and sides with a little beaten egg. Pop them onto the baking tray and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake for 30 mins, or until risen and golden. Serve warm or cold, plain or with – heaven forfend – a little more butter…

*For a comprehensive list of ingredient prices and how I work out recipe costs, see this link: http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/11/13/my-shopping-essentials-and-how-i-calculate-recipe-costs/

First published in the Guardian, November 2014. Photograph by Graham Turner for the Guardian.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

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Categories: BREADS

22 Comments »

  1. This recipe took me back to when I was really skint and I used to make all my own bread. Lardy cake was one of the treats I made for us every other batch, all wholemeal and muscovado and oozy. My little one loved it. These days I live with a vegetarian so it’s not on the menu. And now I can afford to make cakes, but am tempted…

  2. Thanks Jack! This is a quick fix that will make anyone happy and satisfied. Great to hear about the water temperature for the yeast. I am also used to using hot water. Never too late to change my ways of doing things.

  3. Hubby spent a lot of time on the road through work, and if ever in the Marlborough area, used to stop and bring home a Lardy cake – to die for! – from the bakers on the edge of town. I’ve never had a Lardy BUN, but if yours are as good as the Marlborough Baker’s, I SHALL LOVE YOU FOR EVER!!! 🙂

  4. My ex-wife’s grandmother used to make the most wonderful lardy cake. It always reminds me of austere days way back in the past. But, such a lovely food that brings a miriad of memories.

  5. Lovely recipe thanks. By the way sorry you have been going through it re David Cameron I agree with what you said and have thought the same myself. Hope Sainsburys have not dropped you, if they have I will not shop there again!

  6. In the summer, DP and I went to River Cottage for a course on bread. The baker there said that the longer you can rise your dough, the better the flavour. So when I got back I made a 500g batch of dough and put it in the fridge to rise overnight.
    When I used it, I only used some of it, then topped it up with more flour and water and put it back. No more yeast. And basically, I have been doing that ever since, with the flavour developing into a lovely deep, sourdoughish type.
    Having this dough in the fridge all the time means that buns, wraps, flatbreads and rolls can all be done practically instantly.
    I’ll try squidging some lard and butter in to have a go at these!

  7. Jack we’re so poor this month and the delivery man doesn’t come with the shopping till tomorrow. So I’m making these with two borrowed boxes of my daughter’s Poundshop raisins, some out of date veggie suet from a rather odd Approved Food shop, and a half bag of bread mix etc. Good job I’ve already got small girl’s present, eh! (A play kitchen, of course)

  8. Baking day tomorrow (it’s like every other day I cook but with added Radio 4 in the background and an apron to add a bit of gentility), I’m going to try the veggie version. My lovely new friend who is an older woman from Sweden has suggested adding a small pinch of cardamon, which has been kindly donated. Should be lush.

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