Lard (fat from a pig) has been used for thousands of years as a culinary ingredient. Indeed, the fat from any animal was considered just as important as the meat (as well as the organs). During the early 20th century, something changed in the United States however; delicious lard, along with other saturated fats, were labeled as being "bad for you." Things like shortening and margarine became the new healthy fats of choice.
Today however, we know that those vegetable oils are the unhealthy ones, and fats like lard, butter, whole fat dairy, and coconut oil are making a well-deserved comeback! Not only is lard a healthy fat, but it is delicious, and adds a wonderful tenderness to baked goods, such as this cake recipe I will share with you today.
I made this cake for my husband on his birthday--and that is what is it perfect for! Large enough to serve a crowd at a birthday party, and the perfect end to a meal. It is an old-fashioned recipe from the 1950s (or possible earlier), and is based on instructions from what is one of my favorite cookbooks right now, Farm Journal's Country Cookbook.
Lard - Lard from the grocery store is generally hydrogenated and comes from factory farm animals. I don't recommend using it. The best and most affordable way to get good lard is to render it yourself. Find local farmers who are ethically raising pastured pigs. If you are having trouble finding lard, there are companies selling high-quality lard online.
Sugar - Either granulated sugar or sucanat can be used in the cake recipe. Sucanat will give the cake a slight molasses flavor and darker color. I have not tested any other type of sugar for the frosting, so I recommend using the powdered sugar.
Flour - Cake flour can be replaced with all-purpose flour, but will not have quite the same light texture. You can also use whole grain flours, but may need to adjust the amount of milk to get the right consistency.
Serving Yields - You can get 36 larger pieces if you cut the cake into 2" x 3" rectanges, or 54 smaller pieces if you cut the cake into 2" x 2" squares.
Enjoy In Moderation - This cake does have a lot of sugar in it (especially the frosting). Though lard and butter are healthy fats, the cake should still be enjoyed in moderation.
|A delicious pan of yellow cake made with lard.|
Yellow Lard Cake (Printable Version)
1 cup lard
1/4 cup butter
2 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
5 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
3 1/8 cups sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 12" x 18" pan with butter, and then coat with flour.
In a large mixing bowl, cream lard and butter together. Add 5 tablespoons of the milk and all of the vanilla. Beat 2 minutes with a mixer on medium speed, or until light and fluffy.
In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add this to the lard mixture with about 2/3 of the remaining milk. Beat until smooth on medium speed, 3-4 minutes.
Add remaining milk and the eggs. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.
Pour batter into the greased and floured pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
Cool and frost with Butter-Cream frosting (recipe below).
3/4 cup butter, softened
5 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat butter and sugar together. Add cream and vanilla. Beat until frosting is fluffy and spreadable.