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Lardy Cake

all-purpose flour
vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

5 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups sponge pulled into small pieces
4 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
6 cups mixed dried currants, cranberries and golden raisins
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup cognac

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 1/4 cup warm water (110
degrees) and yeast. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
Add 1 1/4 cup warm water and flour. Mix on low speed, 2 minutes;
the sponge should feel like a very wet dough. Place sponge in a
lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let stand at room
temperature 24 hours. Store sponge, refrigerated, up to one week,
or freeze in plastic up to three months. Bring sponge to room
temperature before using.

In the bowl of an electric mix er fitted with the paddle attachment,
combine 1 cup warm (110 degrees) water and yeast. Let stand until
creamy, about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup warm water and the sponge.
Mix on low speed until combined, about 2 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Add to yeast mixture,
and mix on low speed 1 minute. Change attachment to dough hook,
and mix on medium-low speed until dough is smooth and just sticks
to your fingers when squeezed, about 8 minutes.

Lightly flour a work surface. Turn out dough, and knead four or
five turns into a ball. Place dough, smooth side up, in a lightly
oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place
until dough has doubled and is slightly blistered and satiny, about
1 hour.

Punch dough down, and fold over four or five times. Place folded
side face down in bowl. Cover, and let rise again in a warm place
until doubled in bulk and satiny, about 50 minutes. Divide dough
in half, and wrap in plastic until ready to use.

Using a rolling pin, roll out half the dough into a 16-inch square
on a lightly floured work surface. Cover remaining half with
plastic; set aside.

In a small bowl, combine spices. In a large bowl, combine dried
fruit. Spread 4 tablespoons butter over top of dough, leaving a
1/2-inch border around perimeter. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons brown
sugar over butter. Sprinkle one quarter of the combined spices
over the sugar. Sprinkle one quarter of the dried fruit over the
spices. Using the palms of your hands, gently press fruit into
dough. Fold four corners of square into center, creating a smaller
square, enclosing filling. Gently press down on dough with rolling
pin. Spread 2 ounces butter over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border
around perimeter. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons sugar, another quarter
of spices, and another quarter of the fruit. Using the palms of
your hands, gently press fruit into dough; fold dough into thirds.

Transfer dough to a piece of parchment paper; roll out into an 11
x 16-inch rectangle. Carefully lifting parchment, transfer to
baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to chill butter. Repeat
steps 1 through 4 with remaining dough, butter, brown sugar, spices,
and dried fruit.

Heat oven to 350F.

Combine jam and cognac in a small saucepan. Set over low heat;
cook until liquefied. Strain mixture; discard solids. Brush
surface of lardy cakes with jam mixture. Bake cakes until golden
and puffed, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.
Lardy cake will keep up to three days, very tightly wrapped in
plastic. Reheat cake before serving. Makes two 11- by 16-inch


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