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Welcome to Adlebury where village life can be downright deadly.
Veterinarian Petronella Knight seems to have it all. A job she loves, good friends, and patients who adore her. But when she gets into an argument with dog breeder Gladys Harrington, and she finds the woman dead, she also finds herself accused of murder.
Ella will need all her friends, including the new and very handsome American policeman, and all her sharpest sleuthing skills to figure out who murdered the dog breeder before another dead body pops up.
Paws for Murder contains one enthusiastic amateur detective with a penchant for rescuing animals, a guard duck called George, a large amount of homemade gooseberry wine, and a very confused American who has never met an English village quite like this one.
You’d be Barking Mad to pass this one by.
When I was writing, Paws for Murder, I was struck by how the differences on the UK and US translate even to food. One of the cakes in Paws for Murder is called a Lardy Cake and it leads to an amusing discussion between Garrett and his grandmother and Ella, because of the use of lard in the recipe.
Lard is, simply put, pig fat, of course, but in reality, it is no worse than butter. In fact, better. Pure lard contains no trans fats. And in terms of its fatty acids, it’s better than butter. Lard is 60 per cent monounsaturated fat, which is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, while butter is 45 per cent monounsaturated fat.
Lardy Cake is a popular, traditional British bake, regularly seen in the bakeries. So it came as something of a surprise to find that it was not universally known in the US, and that the mere mention of the word ‘lard’ is sometimes greeted with horrified expressions. Having actually tasted Lardy Cake, this reaction was a source of great puzzlement to me, because I think it’s delicious. I hope you’ll think so too.
Lardy cake was historically a mid-afternoon snack eaten by workers in the field. It was known as “fourses” or a four o’clock snack food to help the workers get through the day. It’s high in calories and sweet, so accompanied by a cool ale, the workers could keep up their energy in the long days of harvest.
Lardy Cake is one of the simplest cakes to make, in that the main ingredient is bread dough. This is enriched by dotting lard and sugar over the rolled dough, folding and rerolling, then sprinkling with sugar and dried fruit. The bakeries in my home town used to bake the cake as a giant slab, which was brought into the shop in its tin, already cut into portions. During baking, the lard and sugar melted together to make a delicious chewy caramel that solidified as it cooled. This caramel used to concentrate at the edges of the tin, so for caramel fans, an edge piece was always preferable to a center one. The center squares of soft, pillowy sweet dough dotted with fruit had their fans also, but the real prize was a corner piece – the equivalent of two edge pieces rich with sticky caramel. Corner pieces of the Lardy Cake slab were much coveted.
Lardy Cake Ingredients
Makes 1 regular loaf cake
25g or 2 Tablespoons of lard, like Crisco
500g or 4 cups white flour, plus extra for dusting
(7g) or 1 ½ tablespoon of fast-action yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
300ml or 1 ½ cups warm water
For the filling:
120g or about ½ cup lard, diced
150g or about 1 cup crimson raisins (you may substitute currants or use a mixture of both)
120g or about ½ cup caster or extra-fine sugar
Grease your loaf tin. Cut a strip of baking parchment and lay it lengthwise in the tin, so that the ends overhang the ends of the tin.
Put lard in a bowl with the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Gradually add the warm water, mixing well, until the mixture comes together in a soft dough. Knead thoroughly until smooth, about 10 minutes. Cover and set aside to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
When the dough is fully risen, tip it out on to a floured surface and pat down. With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to a large rectangle about 5mm or 2 inches thick.
Dot the lard for the filling all over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle the raisins, then the sugar over the top.
Cut the dough into strips as wide as your loaf tin and stack them on top of one another. Now cut through the strips vertically to make squares and stack these squares in the prepared tin with their cut sides uppermost. They will resemble bread slices in a loaf. Cover and leave to rise a second time for 30–45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F
Bake for 30–40 minutes until crisp and golden on top and cooked through. If the loaf seems to be browning too much, lay some baking parchment over the top until fully cooked. Cool in the tin. Enjoy!
About the Author
Scarlett English is a crazy cat lady who likes solving mysteries. Or actually, make that a dog lady. Much to her chagrin, the police have never sought to consult her, which is why there seems to be so much unsolved crime. Especially—surprisingly enough—in the small English village where she lives. So, armed with curiosity, a penchant for taking in strays, a love of homemade wine and a good gossip, she puts her detecting talents to good use murdering her imaginary friends and neighbors and solving the cases one story at a time.
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