Tag Archives: Dan Lepard

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.

Nightmares, Time Travel, and Chocolate Cake

I am a bad blogger, I have half-written posts whirling about in my head and none of them finished. I take photos of things with great bloggerly enthusiasm and then somehow the moment passes and I think you probably don’t want to see or hear about old stuff from the week before or even last month. Is blogging supposed to be in the here and now, is it ok to  backdate one’s blog life diary, even relate stories out of synch? How do you feel about this if you blog? How related to a personal timeline should a blog be? Would you as reader mind seeing photos of flowers that have now passed on to the great seed pod in the sky?

My favourite David Austin climbing rose

On a completely random note, I have just waded my way through the first of a two-parter on time travel set in the London Blitz by Connie Willis, called ‘Blackout’ and debating whether to read the second part; truth is I haven’t really engaged with the characters, maybe they will get more interesting if I wade through the second chunk of this.  The only thing I really want to know is whether they have to stay put in the 1940s or get back home; I always prefer it when people get back home in time travel stories.  I really liked an earlier story called’ Firewatch’ and her ‘Doomesday Book’ novel, which are all part of the same series, which is why I bought these two.  If you like time travel stories by the way, my favourite is one called ‘The Book of Kells’ by R A MacAvoy. I read the Connie Willis books because a friend of mine who is now dead, was a great fan of hers and so I read them for her and imagine the conversations we might have had about them once we had both read them.  We all have our own ways of remembering friends who are gone and this is what I do to comfort myself for the loss of this friend.

One thing I do know is that the book has given me nightmares of cities built out of red sandstone where the streets and buildings fall into holes in the ground and one can never find one’s way back to where one was, just keep on going and hope that somewhere, some place it makes sense. I know that this dream is in part derived from some of the passages in the book, but there are no bombs in my dreams, just huge clouds of red dust and buildings silently sliding into crevasses, of running up and down staircases, through courtyards, along passageways and corridors, pushing doors open and always looking for the people I have lost, out on the street, through a building here, round the crest of a hill there, I am exhausted when I wake up. Nightmares have a way of making waking reality preferable most of the time.

Baby Starling having a Think

In my waking reality today it is Sunday and grey and a bit chilly with this strange North Westerly wind howling about round these parts, so I thought that this could be a two slices of chocolate cake sort of a day. (Did you like the way I steered this post away from the  books I read and the madness of my dream life to food?)

I made this rather wonderful choc chip Victoria Sandwich cake last night and it was too late to eat it by the time I finally did the icing thing so I have decided that today I can have yesterday’s slice as well. Flawless logic as ever.  →The recipe is by Dan Lepard ← and can be found on the Guardian’s website for Friday 21st June. I have been thinking about chocolate cake for a while now and how most chocolate cakes these days are squishy and dessert like which is great but sometimes I just hanker after a cake that is not made of pure chocolate, butter, eggs but has flour in it, the sort of cake you can carry off on a plate to a chair somewhere and eat without feeling you have just consumed a box of artisan chocolates that were very nice but you wish you had only eaten two of them.

This cake is,  as promised by Dan in the recipe,  chocolatey but not overwhelming. It is light and moist with a slight tendency to crumbliness, which I like. After all there is nothing quite like chasing cake crumbs around a plate either decorously with a fork or more prosaically with a damp finger.

I used a few bowls in the making ; there was a worrisome moment on mixing in the cocoa batter into the creamed butter and sugar as it looked a bit weird but after that it all came together and I am more than happy with the result.  If I were to open my garden for National Garden Day this is the sort of chocolate cake I would make for my visitors, in fact I would be happy to make it for anyone who came for tea.

I used four large duck eggs and half and half light brown and dark brown soft sugar as I didn’t have enough of either, Green and Black’s cocoa, and some Lindt dark cooking chocolate and a rather expensive tube of Waitrose own brand chocolate chips.

My oven temps are slightly different from Dan Lepard’s. The equivalent of Gas 3 on my chart is 165 C so that is what I used and I reckon you need about half the icing quantity to do this cake, but I don’t like an inch of filling and icing, less is more for me but…

Dan Lepard's Chocolate Chip Victoria Sandwich Cake

…excuse me, I have cut this slice and am terribly sorry but I have to go and eat it before the mouse carries it away. Life is very hard sometimes.

Ginger Up Those Dan Lepard Tea Cakes

dan Lepard teacakes

So I asked Brian what he would like in the way of baking and being a man of few words he said ‘Buns please’ – once more unto Dan Lepard’s top teacake recipe dear friends. This time I think I have  just about got the bake time for a smaller sized bun spot on. This batch are near enough perfect. I like this recipe because it is a proper light-on-the-sugar bun, relying on the fruit and spice for sweetness.  If you like buns drenched in sugary syrup and crammed with all sorts of bits, this is not the bun for you, but it is Brian’s favourite sweet bun and he would happily eat them all day.

I used organic cocoa butter instead of white chocolate and 100 grams of Buderim ginger, 150 g of sultanas and 50 grams of dried pears as the fruit. A teaspoon of cinammon, half a teaspoon each of ginger and mixed spice, and St Helens semiskimmed goats milk. I add the cocoa butter to the heated milk before pouring it over the other goodies so that it melts easily. I am getting quite into goats milk these days on account of the kefir which likes it better than cows milk, don’t ask me why, I hated everything goat when I was a child but my tastes have changed over the years.

I divided the dough into 16 balls of 90 g about half the size suggested in Short and Sweet,  and baked them for exactly 10 minutes in a fan oven at 200 C.  The buns come out soft and light if you keep the bake short and hot. If you leave them in too long they get dry and tough,  so if in doubt pull them out of the oven. The rich colour is from the egg wash, don’t forget the egg wash!

Fri am : Adding a couple of crumb shots for Charlie @ Hotlyspiced.com

Crumb shot Top Tea Cakes Dan Lepard Buderim Ginger IMG_1721

…and they defrost beautifully and toast like a dream….

Maybe it was the fresh yeast, maybe the goat's milk, who knows, these are the  lightest, and most melt in the mouth teacakes I have ever made!

Maybe it was the fresh yeast, maybe the goat’s milk, who knows, these are the lightest, and most melt in the mouth teacakes I have ever made!

Semolina Bun Bread with Wild Garlic and Sundried Tomatoes

IMG_1460

23rd April 2013

The Dan Lepard fan club knows that in his repertoire of awesome buns are some absolute treasures to which one returns time and time again. My favourite three are the legendary soft white bap, the top teacake and our eternal favourite, the BBQ semolina bun. Known in this house variously as the duvet bread or the pillow bread because of the scoring to the top, I make this bread over and over again. The recipe for the Semolina BBQ buns is still available on the Guardian website and I don’t change anything at all when I make it.

Today I made a double batch and made a duvet with one portion. With the second batch of dough I thought I would try something a bit different for me. When the dough had finished its first prove, I patted and gently rolled it out into a largish rectangle and spread it lightly with some wild garlic, grated pecorino cheese, ground almonds and olive oil made into a pesto-like sauce and a few sundried tomatoes. I rolled it up gently into a sausage shape and curved it into a ring. I set it on a sheet of baking parchment on a tray and put it inside a clean bin bag to prove. Before baking, I slashed small slashes in the top and brushed it with water and sprinkled fine semolina over it.

I baked it at 240º C (220º C Fan) for 15 minutes and then reduced the temperature to 200º C (180º C Fan) for another 15 minutes and then took it out of the oven and left it to cool and stop sizzling on a rack. The bottom was very crusty. If you don’t like crusty then bake it a bit cooler.

The trick with doing this is not to squash all the air out of the dough when patting it out to the rectangle, use the flat of your fingers to start the process off. When you use the pin, roll as gently as you can from the centre of the dough towards the corners to get a rectangular shape, and take your time. If the dough is pinging back a lot, walk away for five minutes and let it relax before you try again; try not to compress the dough too much, you are sort of stretching and fluffing it, rather than rolling and squashing. I am thinking about the way I pat out pizza dough rather than use a pin, though that is of course a different dough and more delicate than this.

IMG_1463_2

My dearest old neighbour from where I used to live came round for lunch and we ate in the garden, yes really it was warm enough to eat outside!! We were accompanied by the sound of building work from two doors down, visits from some very large bumble bees, and the grumbles of small poodles, but you know what, it was glorious!

IMG_1457

Brian had bought an entire box of aubergines for the sum of £2.75 at the weekend and even though he gave two-thirds of them away we still had lots left to cook, so it was more swooning and more olive oil and more Imam Bayildi for lunch today. I changed the spices slightly this time and left the onions chunkier, using allspice and a very new hot smoked paprika. We are still swooning… and I promise not to mention it again, but it is really very good indeed.

Peanut Butter Cookies from Short & Sweet

Dan Lepard Peanut Cookie Short & Sweet

Yesterday I had E’s help playing along  with me in the Short & Sweet baking challenge which you can join in with any time. Read more about shortandtweet here on Evidence Matters’s tumblr blog.

She is a good sport, not only did she do the washing up, but she made these fantastic peanut butter cookies !  She even watched benignly while I tweeted away as we baked. Continue reading

Mrs Kirkhams Farmhouse Lancashire Cheese & Onion Pie

Mrs Kirkhams Lancashire Cheese and Onion Pie with Quark Pastry

In the freezer I had three pieces of pastry flattened into neat circles and packed away in the freezer from making Dan Lepard’s cheese pastry from Short & Sweet the other week; you can see the pie I made with it here on the ShortandTweet roundup at the very bottom of the post. I used Quark and Felin Ganol’s flour in this pastry.

EM (Evidence Matters) has told me how wonderful a good piece of Lancashire cheese could be, and took the trouble to recommend me a particular sort made by Mrs Kirkhams, which we have found at Waitrose (pre-packed version)  The label says ‘rich ivory cheese, buttery, tangy and complex, made with raw cows milk’.  I am not brilliant at describing tastes but this was delectable and lived up to what it says on the label.

EM also suggested following Simon Hopkinson’s mother’s cheese and onion pie filling recipe from the BBC food site which uses this cheese and putting Dan’s pastry on the top as a single crust pie so I had a go last night. 

I had a small issue about the quantity of onion to use and how to chop it up. This is the trouble with trying to follow a recipe, you stare at the words, hoping for clues, you look at the picture, you read the words. You think. You mutter to yourself,  “Oh I don’t know..”  and, if you are me, your common sense – the little you have – flies out of the window and wanders off to water the primulas. 

Of course I should have cut the onions a little shorter, and grated the cheese cold and I would probably have done that if I hadn’t been following a recipe, strange the effect they have on me, do they do that to you?

We won’t talk about the flapping around trying to find an appropriate pan, I don’t have a pie dish as such, apart from the anodised Mermaid one I used here. I need a fancy pie dish! Support me on this please.

Hanging up in the garage, my French onions were somewhat depleted and one was sprouting huge shoots and had nothing left to give.  I had two small pinky ones and one large Spanish onion, so that is what I used. Today, belatedly, I thought to tweet EM and ask her about quantities of onions and she recommends 500 grams of uncooked onion for the quantities in this recipe. I have no idea what mine weighed, I just used what I had which is all any sensible person cooking at home does.

I also made the mistake of leaving my cheese out to warm up. You see I wanted to taste the cheese before I made the pie (there’s always a reason!). This made it harder to grate and it clumped together a bit which meant I had to eat more as I went along, so maybe there should have been more in the pie; cook’s perks!

The onions took a long time to reduce down on a low temperature, as I was trying not to let them go brown. Having made this once, I realise that I should have left them even longer to get really quite dry with no visible moisture at all. I decorated the top of the pastry with little tears to symbolise all that chopping of onions.

This method of cooking onions though, results in a wonderfully sweet and rich flavour and combined with Mrs Kirkhams Lancashire cheese and topped with a piece of light pastry made a naughty supper accompanied by purple sprouting broccoli.  Here it is chilled down for lunch the next day with half a tomato and a few sacrificial salad leaves from the micro green tub on the windowsill.

EM has also suggested putting slices of boiled potato in the bottom of the dish next time, so I might try that. I’ll tell you one thing though,  if they eat like this in Lancashire farmhouses they are eating well! Thank you EM for introducing me to this lovely cheese and a new pie and all the fantastic advice you give. You are a treasure!

 

Try a Little Tenderness

Franka Philip Dan Lepard roti dal

Here are some brilliant flatbreads filled with spicy dal rolled out with my magic Turkish rolling pin for Short and Tweet over this last weekend. This recipe is by Dan Lepard (P.73 of Short & Sweet, Lentil Filled Flatbreads) with the help of Franka Philip.  Check out Franka Philip’s photos of making these with Dan; she kindly gave us advice on Twitter on how to seal the little pockets of dough around the filling before rolling them out. Twitter is a funny place, I would never have thought I could ask a cook book writer I had never met for help directly but all the ones I have had contact with are extraordinarily kind and positive. Thank you once again Franka!

Franka Philip Dan Lepard roti dal

This dough was really interesting in that the dough is made without yeast or sourdough and is left to age in the fridge. Pooh pooh you might say, what difference would that make?  Well, the flat breads rolled out really easily after their long chill, puffed up in the pan and were incredibly tender to eat, light and just yummy.  If I compare them to these quick flatbreads that I made recently these Trinidadian style roti are way superior in terms of their tenderness and flavour.

Franka Philip Dan Lepard roti dal

I had every conceivable colour of dal in a scruffy box in the cupboard, waiting for me to make dal with, except I only had half the quantity of the red dal I needed for this recipe, so I added some uri dal in, thinking that would be OK. It was in the end, but whereas the red dal cooks fast and goes quite mushy, the uri dal stayed resolutely uncooked for ages and retained its shape, so when you look at the photos you can see the pattern the uri dal made. Still it wasn’t a disaster by any means!

Franka Philip Dan Lepard roti dal

I found it quite fascinating how the spiced and garlicky filling started off dark yellow and then as it cooked again within the confines of the roti turned a wonderful rich amber-red colour. I don’t know quite why it did that, the combination of spice, salt and lentils?

We used our flatbreads to scoop up a spicy pork mince dish that I made up with some ancient freezer aged mince, garlic, ginger, fresh garam marsala, a mild  chilli and a tin of tomatoes (the sort of thing I made as a student, only a bit better than my cooking abilities then)  and a little dark green fresh spinach on the side. All eaten before I thought to take a photo, oops.

Franka Philip Dan Lepard roti dal

I rolled like a demon, a rather slow demon, and B flipped the breads in the pan. The recipe made loads, so we paused half way through our roti making, ate far too much and then I made the last few balls up and put them in the fridge for a further night.

Incidentally, I also learnt that a Tequila Sunrise made with blood orange juice is called a Tequila O Positive. Dad gave me this beautiful glass when I visited him last year, he told me he bought it when he was a student so it has survived a long time.

I slept well after all that hard work, concentrating on the delicate rolling out of these breads. We watched the season finale of Borgen, best thing on TV the last month,  and shared a plate of atmospheric (dark and gloomy Copenhagen)  lemon cardamom (no baking powder this time!) madeleines made from Thane Prince’s recipe here.

——-

Franka Philip Dan Lepard roti dal

Edit: Another oops, I forgot to add this picture in!

Back to the tale of the Tender Ones – The following morning I pulled the remaining balls out of the fridge (36 hours after the dough was originally mixed) and rolled them out in the early morning sunshine and we had them for breakfast topped with egg and bacon and a squirt of tomato ketchup and took sunshine filled photos to share with you.  I was so pleased the sun came out!

Last year we made some alloo parathas  (left) with Mellow Bakers, but they weren’t a patch on these! I will definitely make today’s recipe again. We are going to investigate making thin rolling pins from dowel as I really think it makes it much easier to roll these little quite frail balls of dough out and I would like one that is a bit shorter so I don’t hit stuff off the worktop when I am rolling.

I am getting on much better with this skinny pin than I do with my big rolling pin, or else it is just practice.

PPS Here’s Evidence Matters’s super round up post for this week’s baking. Have a peek and discover some new blogs to read and if you want to join in it’s very easy and all explained over on her blog.

What have you been up to this weekend?