This year, once again, my little sister and I watched the Great British Bake Off together (Great British Baking Show in the US), and did our version of a bake-along. Every week we picked one of the challenges and attempted to bake it, within the time constraints that the challengers were given.
Yesterday was the finale, and while we were very sad that our two favorite contestants (Tasha and Saku) didn’t actually make it to the finale, we were both quite happy with the person who won.
Options for the finale included eclairs, which was, eh, mainly because we’ve both made choux pastry a bazillion times in the past so it wasn’t going to be any sort of challenge, and a three-layer fancy cake, which neither of us wanted to make because that’s a lot of cake when there’s only two people in the house. The third option, however, was something neither of us (or the contestants, for that matter) had heard of: Lardy Cake.
Lardy Cake is a yeast-based dough that is laminated with a mixture of butter and lard. The recipe the contestants were given, however, sounded absolutely revolting, as it included (yes you guessed it) lard, as well as a bunch of dried fruit. On a whim, though, I started poking around on the internets, and lo, the internets graced me with recipes for lardy cake that not only did not include lard, but also did not include dried fruit. Specifically, this recipe.
Normally I would have been timing myself, but because we veered significantly from the GBBO approved recipe, I didn’t bother setting a timer. So this morning, after the usual round of cat-related chores (filling feeders, scooping litter boxes, giving the diaper-clad incontinent cat a butt bath, why yes, my life is super glamourous, why do you ask?), I set up the dough. An hour later, I rolled it out and spread two thirds of it with a mix of softened butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Then I did the first of 5 envelope folds, which are how you get the layers in laminated dough. You fold one third of the dough to the middle, then the other outer third over the first third, and let it rest. Turn the dough, gently roll it out into a rectangle again, and then repeat the envelope fold a couple more times. This helps spread the flavored butter out between ever thinner layers of the dough.
After the final fold, I pressed it into a greased springform pan. I did smoosh it into a circle but during the rising process it kind of, well, unsmooshed itself. Ah well.
Half an hour in the oven and here’s my finished Lardy Cake. It isn’t very exciting to look at, I realize.
But look at what’s inside!
I am super pleased with all those layers.
The cake itself is more like a sweet bread, and is actually very reminiscent of a croissant in that the outer layers were flakey and buttery, and the inner layers are soft and lightly sweet. Cake or bread or whatever you want to call it, however, this thing is absolutely delicious. And except for about half an hour of folding and resting, it doesn’t take all that much effort to put together. It’s certainly not a fast bake, as there were two hour-long rises before it even went into the oven, but oh, it’s definitely worth it.
‘Tis the season for Holidailies.