Wiltshire Lardy Cake

This is a simpler version of the traditional Lardy Cake, which is eaten in the south of England. Serve it hot with tea, sliced and spread with plenty of butter and, if you like, apricot jam or honey.

8-

1 teaspoon butter

2 oz. fresh yeast

2 oz. plus

1 teaspoon castor sugar

10 fl. oz. lukewarm milk

1 lb. flour

1 teaspoon salt

4 oz. lard, cut into

2-inch pieces 1½ teaspoons ground mixed spice

GLAZE

3 tablespoons sugar dissolved in

3 tablespoons water

Grease a medium-sized baking sheet with the teaspoon of butter and set it aside.

Crumble the yeast into a small bowl and mash in

4- teaspoon of the sugar with a fork. Add

3 tablespoons of the milk and cream the milk and yeast together to form a smooth paste.

Set the bowl aside in a warm, draught- free place for 15 to 20 minutes or until the yeast mixture is puffed up and frothy.

Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Using your fingers, rub the lard pieces into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture and the remaining milk.

Using a spatula, gradually draw the flour mixture into the liquid. Continue mixing until all the flour is incorporated and the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured board or marble slab and knead it for 10 minutes, reflouring the surface if the dough becomes sticky. The dough should be clastic and smooth.

Rinse, thoroughly dry and lightly grease the mixing bowl. Shape the dough into a ball and return it to the bowl. Dust the top of the dough with a little flour and cover the bowl with a clean damp cloth. Set the bowl aside in a warm, draught- free place for 1 to 1| hours or until the dough has risen and almost doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to moderate 350 F (Gas Mark 4, 180°C).

Turn the risen dough out of the bowl

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Sprinkle the dough with one-third of the remaining sugar and spice. Fold the dough over in three and turn it so that the open end faces you. Lightly press the edges to seal them. Roll the dough out again and repeat the process twice more, using the remaining sugar and spice. Turn, seal and shape the dough into a round. Place the dough on the sheet. Using a baking knife, score a diagonal pattern across the top of the dough.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the cake is golden brown.

Ten minutes before the end of the cooking time, remove the cake from the oven and brush it with the glaze. Return the cake to the oven.

Remove the sheet from the oven and turn the cake on to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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