Greatest Recipes Ever: Northumberland lardy cake

Thomasina Miers picks Elizabeth David’s Northumberland lardy cake as one of her greatest recipes ever.

‘My husband, Mark, was 40 late last year. When I asked him what he really wanted as a birthday treat, all he could talk about was lardy cake. So I tracked down a recipe and made it. It earned definite brownie points, not least because, for such an unprepossessing name, it is a wickedly delicious teatime treat.

Start making it early in the morning so you can get it rising. After lunch, when it’s on its second rise, go for a fantastically cold, long and energetic walk in the fresh air with as many children and dogs as you can find. Back home, pop it in the oven amid squeals of excitement. How can baking be more fun than this?

Just make sure there are no strict vegetarians around-they may find their resolve crumbling as the hot cake emerges from the depths of the oven’

Northumberland lardy cake
Extract from Elizabeth David’s English Bread and Yeast Cookery (published by Penguin)

Ingredients for the dough
8oz flour
¾ gill of milk
½oz yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 egg
Pinch of salt
For the filling
2oz lard
2oz sugar
2oz currants

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Equivalent metric quantities for the dough: flour 225g, milk 120ml, yeast 15g, sugar 1 teaspoon, eggs 1, pinch of salt; for the filling: lard 60g, sugar 60g, currants 60g. Tin size: 20cm cake tin.

Sift together flour and salt and leave in a warm place. Cream the yeast with sugar, add the egg and warmed milk and mix with the flour to make a soft dough. Leave in a warm place, and when the dough has doubled its bulk, roll out onto a floured board. Divide the filling into two portions and spread one half onto two-thirds of the dough, then fold into three as for flaky pastry and roll out again. Spread the remainder of the filling, refold and roll out twice, finally shaping to fit an eight-inch cake tin. Allow to rise, and bake in a hot oven for thirty to thirty-five minutes.