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Learning at Black Country Living Museum

Recipe - Lardy Cake


Lardy cakes were popular, they were filling, sweet and cheap. The main ingredient for Lardy cake is bread dough and the baker would sell the sweet bread in the shop.

Recipes for lardy cake vary widely in quantities of lard and sugar used (anywhere between 2 oz to 6 oz for a pound of bread dough).


  • 1 lb (450/500 gr.) white bread dough
  • 6 oz (170 gr.) lard (3 oz/85 gr.) worked as well)
  • 6 oz (170 gr.) currants
  • 6 oz (170 gr.) sugar (4 oz / 110 gr.  more than enough as well)


  • After the dough has risen, roll out into an oblong about the size of the baking dish (or about 30cmx20xm - 8 inch x 12 inch)
  • Soften the lard (by putting it near to the fire) and spread the oblong with lard
  • Sprinkle ⅔ of the oblong with currants and sugar,
  • Fold the uncovered part over half the currants and sugar
  • Fold over again, so all currants and sugar are in the roll
  • Roll out with rolling pin and repeat the above.
  • Roll out with rolling pin again, to about the size of the baking dish
  • With knife score into squares
  • Lightly brush top with lard
  • Put in greased baking dish or on greased tray.
  • Bake in bread oven until brown (approx 20 to 30 minutes)
  • Cool down for 5 minutes, then let cool on wire rack


About lard

This could be bought from the grocers or butchers or made at home. It was made by rendering down the ‘leaf’ of the pig, which is the fatty membrane surrounding the kidneys and loin. This was cut into small cubes and together with some of the rind, rendered down very slowly in a large saucepan. As the leaf was reduced, the melted fat was poured into containers to set. The resulting lard was then used for frying food, for pastry and cake making, and also for spreading on bread or toast as an alternative to butter.

About currants

Currants are dried, dark red, seedless grapes. They are small, black and somewhat shrivelled but packed full of flavour. The grapes were originally cultivated in Greece and the name currant comes from the city of Corinth. (Raisins are dried white grapes. Around the turn of the century it was still essential to take out the seeds before you used raisins in recipes. Sultanas are also dried white grapes but from seedless varieties. They are however different in taste from raisins.



Try some of our other listed Black Country Recipes



Visit BCLM this half-term for some more ‘fun in a bun’!

Between Sat 14 – Sun 22 Feb the Museum will ‘knead’ young bakers to rise to the occasion and get involved with series of hands on activities, crafts and demonstrations. From ‘Lardy Cakes’ to ‘cake sandwiches’, follow a trail around the Museum and discover all sorts of weird and wonderful facts about cooking and baking in the Black Country. Bake it in the Black Country Half Term Activities

Don't forget... you can pay once, visit for 12 months with our new annual pass.


 BCLM UnChained Annual Pass

  Book online & save 


‘Bostin Fittle’ by Pat Purcell (1978, published by the Black Country Society) Interestingly, the recipes in this publication are based on a hand written recipe notebook by Miss Bissell, written in 1875.

‘A feast of memories, Black Country Food and Life at the turn of the century’ by Marjorie Cashmore (1986, Westwood Press Publications). The recipes in this book are based on interviews and oral histories taken in the 1980s, many of those interviewed remembering life in the Black Country in the early 20th century.

Advice was also taken from Mrs Beeton, Book of Household management.

Did you know?

interesting fact image

When the museum was first built, only the canal, limekilns and mine shafts were here - along with a disused sewage works.

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