Tag Archives: sourdough

Ooh La La-rdy Cake!

Dan Lepard's Lardy Cake

This week I have been on a baking spree.  I made Dan Lepard’s Lard Cake, recipe in the Hand Made Loaf, after several years of thinking about it, seeing Celia have such fun making it last year and after finding a butcher who would save me some good quality pork fat to render lard from.

I followed the method for rendering fat in the oven which I found in Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes’ by Jenifer McLagen.

Two Lardy Cakes half way through prep

Brian was delighted by this treat. The recipe in the book makes over a kilo of dough which is far too much for one Brian to eat even with help from me,  so I split the dough into two lots and used  2 x 18 cm tins to bake them in and shortened the baking time by ten minutes. I found those paper cake cases the easiest way to line the tins and it made it easy to hoik the cakes out to cool without running the risk of burning sugar syrup going everywhere.

Roll up that dough

The first one with the caster sugar topping I took to Graham at Molesworth’s, a local Bristol butchers’ shop, as he had been so kind as to keep the leaf lard back for me and was one of the few butchers I spoke to who seemed to know what I wanted so I reckoned he should get to try my first (and possibly my last ) batch of lardy cakes.

As I walked down the street with my little basket feeling slightly self conscious that I was carrying a hot lardy cake and imagining a curling aroma behind me, (thinking of Desperate Dan in the Dandy)   a man in full evening dress circa 1920 and with a top hat (not imaginary this bit)  walked past me and said ” I hope you have spring flowers in your basket.” I said  “Home made lardy cake I am afraid.” He doffed his hat to me and said “Marvellous!” It was four thirty in the afternoon. Sometimes I wish I had one of those cameras on a helmet…

Demarara Topped Lardy Cake

The second one has a topping of Demerara sugar at Brian’s insistence as that was the way his Gran made it  (as you know I never argue with Brian’s ancestors) and a few raisins.

Brian's Demerara Lardy CakeIt was suggested that Brian shared his cake but apparently this is not an option. I have had a piece and I can report that it is very light, for a lard cake, but it most definitely has an aura of fine porky goodness about it, which is deeply unfashionable and will no doubt make many people rush for their kale smoothies just looking at the photos.

Old Faithful Sourdough Starter

In its favour it is of course completely dairy free and it uses a sourdough starter as well for extra fermenty goodness.

Lardy Cake Crumb Shot 1 2 crumb shots

The crusty sugary outside is pretty good and if I was going on a forced march over hill and dale I would be grateful to stop after about six hours and eat a chunky triangle of Lard Cake with a large mug of strong  black tea, but I am not so sure I could eat this very often. I did enjoy making it though! I will try most things once, always a good principle to consider.

Jeffrey Hamelman’s Rye and Flaxseed Bread

Rye and Flaxseed Sourdough Bread copyright Zeb Bakes

Flax or linseed is a wonderful and healthy addition to a good loaf of bread. In the UK we get both golden and brown linseed, I have used golden linseed here as I like the colour. If you soak the seeds overnight before working them into the dough then they release a sticky mucilage that I believe improves the cohesive quality of a high content rye dough and for those of you who are struggling with shaping and slashing it also helps in that department. All the loaves I have ever made using a flaxseed soaker open and spring well.

linseed old bread bread dough copyright zeb bakes

This bread is made following a recipe of Jeffrey Hamelman in the updated edition of Bread. It is made with fermented whole rye flour, strong white (bread flour) linseeds and an old bread soaker. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of an old bread soaker, who are wrinkling your nose and going ewww, an old bread soaker is not made with a green and furry piece of ancient crust, not with a three day old slice of supermarket pap but with a drying piece of a good bread. In this case I used a slice of the sourdough I was currently eating which was about two days old. As I routinely eat my sourdoughs for up to a week after they have been baked, there was nothing scary about this at all.

Like most things you might choose to add to your bread, the secret is not to add too much that it alters the character of the loaf in an undesirable way.

proving loaves in cloth copyright Zeb Bakes

The recipe is given in full on Modern Baking’s website here (it looks like a legal site not one of those horrible rip off places) together with his notes on the bread and his comments on using an old bread soaker for those of you don’t have a copy of the book yet. I scale the recipe down by dividing the metric column numbers by 10 as I do with nearly all his recipes for my use at home. I followed the recipe very closely as I tend to do when I make Hamelman’s breads. I might add a little more or less liquid depending on the absorbency of my particular flours that is the only difference.

If you are trying an old bread soaker you may need to experiment with how you prepare it though. I suggest making sure the bread is a sort of porridgy slurry before you mix it into the dough, so you may need to process it a bit in some way first.

Rye and Linseed sourdough copyright Zeb Bakes

This is a strong and fully flavoured bread which reminds me vividly of German breads. I adore it. It is not one for people who don’t like rye however. I return to bake it ( and variations on this theme )  again and again. It has a lovely mouth feel and bite and a rich complex set of flavours.

I made three easily shapable loaves and put them in between folds of cloth to prove before baking in a hot oven with steam on a baking stone.

Give it a go if you fancy something different, you never know you might like it! There are lots more of Jeffrey Hamelman’s breads buried in the old posts of my blog if you want to get an idea of the range and breadth of what he offers the aspiring bread baker.  I have added a menu page which gives links to these breads  which I baked with the Mellow Bakers project for ease of reference here.   I might revisit baguettes this weekend …. what are you baking?

Related Posts :

Multi seeded bread with an old bread soaker with recipe

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Sourdough and Forgetfulness

Forgetful Sourdough Zeb Bakes

One of the best things about sourdough baking is that once you have persevered and got going with it, you can return to it and like riding the proverbial bicycle just get a starter going and well, make a loaf when you feel like it.

I found myself making up a couple of lots of starter to send in the post and was left with various bits of starter in various stages. I had one semi dried bowlful, another a bit past its best squidgy one and I looked at them and thought, chuck or bake, chuck or bake? So I baked.

I started late afternoon (not the best of times to think about making bread) and then around 7 pm when the dough was ready to shape, arrived at another decision point. Chill or shape, chill or shape?

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So I shaped, then I tucked the banneton in the oven with the light on and ate supper. And then I fell asleep. I woke up and was just about to crawl off to bed at around midnight and I remembered the dough. I thought, oh it will have just collapsed, oh no, but in fact it was puffy and bubbly and so I heated up the oven and sleepily slashed it and chucked it in. Went back to the sofa, watched forty minutes of TV, read about yeast water on the Fresh Loaf, took the loaf out, left it and here it is this morning.

The point of this is to say that sourdough in a cool climate can work to the advantage of the scatty brained and forgetful. It will wait for you for a surprisingly long time, where a yeasted dough would just collapse in a hiss and a froth of frustration.  So if you are starting out on your sourdough experiments, it really does get easier as you practise, trust me! If you can find someone to show you how to shape and give you all their little tips, the things they do without thinking then that is invaluable, but you can pick up loads just from reading and thinking about it. We all get there in the end.

Have a look at Celia’s brand new tutorial if you want to see how it is done superbly in the hotter climate of Sydney, Australia. Or if you want to read a bit more about how I go about it when I am concentrating, ahem, have a look at this post Weekly Sourdough Bread.

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Forgetful Person’s Sourdough

  • 150 g of starter
  • 320 g water to start with, maybe add more once you have mixed
  • 500 g bread flour
  • 10 g salt
  1. Mix all but the salt, if the dough is very tight then add water 20 g at a time and mix in till you have a dough you feel comfortable with.
  2. Leave for half an hour, tip dough out of bowl, sprinkle salt on and work into dough.
  3. Shape into ball and
  4. Put in lightly oiled bowl
  5. Leave somewhere sensible, in winter near a radiator or in an oven with the light on until the dough shows that it has started to grow, and you can see bubbles under the skin.
  6. Then either put in fridge till the next day
  7. or shape into a ball, this time using flour to shape
  8. and put seamside down in a well floured basket
  9. cover with a shower cap or a teatowel or cling film
  10. put somewhere warm
  11. try and remember it before you go to bed
  12. put the oven on for 20 minutes or so before you bake, nice and hot 220C at least,
  13. put a little tray in the bottom of the oven on a lower shelf
  14. tip dough out of basket, dust with flour if needed, slash the top with a sharp knife
  15. slide dough into oven onto tray or baking stone
  16. Boil kettle and put boiling water into hot little tray below
  17. Bake for 10 – 20 minutes  till bread is browning and is fully risen, and open door, let out steam for a few seconds
  18. Reduce heat to 200C and bake for another 20 – 30 minutes depending on the size of your loaf
  19. Leave on wire rack to cool
  20. Go to bed – 0100 knowing there will be fresh bread in the morning