A Wessex speciality, lardy cake. There was not a day in my youth that this thrilling, dangerous, sweet, fatty bread was not talked about, eaten or just plainly admired.
Its geographical focus is in the old kingdom of Wessex, maybe because of the prevalence of excess fat from pig farming areas. I heard Warings Bakery still have it in Tilehurst and Caversham and they have recently sent it by post; just like in the days of posted clotted cream.
It may be that lard is not as bad for you as butter or synthetic fats, although any day now I expect it could banned by the World Health Organisation. The north of England claim their pound cake was first with lard, but such heresay remains unproven and sounds frankly envious.
Reading was a base of the great struggle against Viking marauders, and together with the story of King Alfred and his burnt cakes, our lardy cake is not only delicious and fulfilling, but a symbol of resistance against the Danes and a reminder of a great former king . There, I have said it!
Matthew Farrall, the author of this article, died on 20 April 2018.
We are grateful to his family for allowing us to continue to display his work online.