Lardy cake
Alternative namesLardy bread, lardy johns, dough cake, fourses cake
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Region or stateSouth and west of England
Main ingredientsRendered lard, flour, sugar, spices, currants and raisins
VariationsDripping cake

Lardy cake, also known as lardy bread, lardy Johns, dough cake and fourses cake, is a traditional rich spiced form of bread found in several southern counties of England, each claiming to provide the original recipe. It remains a popular weekend tea cake in the southern counties of England, including Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Dorset and Gloucestershire.


The main ingredients are freshly rendered lard, flour, sugar, spices, currants and raisins.[1] Lardy cake is a traditional English tea bread popular in country areas in England. It is made from plain bread dough which is enriched with sticky sweet lard and sugar as well as dried fruit and mixed spices.[2] The dough is rolled and folded several times, in a similar way to puff pastry, which gives a layered texture.[3][2]


Lardy cakes were cakes for special celebrations. They were made at harvest days or for family festivals. They were, like gingerbread, also sold at local fairs. [3][2] Elizabeth David (1977) remarks that "It was only when sugar became cheap, and when the English taste for sweet things—particularly in the Midlands and the North—became more pronounced, that such rich breads or cakes were made or could be bought from the bakery every week."[4]

Lardy cake is said to originate on "the borders of the chalk-line in England running from Wiltshire through Oxfordshire to Cambridgeshire".[2]

In the days when ovens were fired only once a week, and in some households only once a fortnight, for the baking of a very large batch of bread and dough products, any dough not used for making the daily bread was transformed into richer products such as lardy cakes, which thus earned the alternative name 'scrap cakes'. They might also be called 'flead cakes'—flead is a light kind of lard scraped off a pig's internal membranes. The high-fat content in such cakes would prevent them from drying out as much as ordinary bread. As reported by the author Elizabeth David, a Hampshire cookbook advises that the cake be turned upside down after baking "so the lard can soak through." It is theoretically possible to substitute butter for lard, but as David puts it: "How could they be Lardy cakes without lard?"[4]

A variation of the lardy cake is the dripping cake.

In Hampshire, a form of the cake was made without currants[5][4] which is said to relate the Hampshire lardy cake to Surrey lardy rolls and Guildford manchets.[4]

Method of making

According to food writer Elizabeth David, the lard in lardy cakes is nearly always "worked into plain dough after the first rising or proving". David also says that "if you can't lay your hands on pure pork lard, don't attempt lardy cakes".[4]

See also


  1. ^ "Lardy Cake". Foods of England. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Maher, Barbara (1996). Traditional cakes and pastries. New York, NY: Shooting Star Press. ISBN 1-57335-526-7. OCLC 39775345.
  3. ^ a b Davidson, Alan (2014). Tom Jaine (ed.). The Oxford companion to food (3rd ed.). New York. ISBN 978-0-19-967733-7. OCLC 890807357.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  4. ^ a b c d e David, Elizabeth (1979). English bread and yeast cookery. London. ISBN 0-14-046791-2. OCLC 43231030.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  5. ^ Lardy Cake Recipe - Recipes by Tallyrand