Brotherly Love is a wonderful Suffolk speciality bread / cake from South-East England, which is fantastic at Easter, (the traditional time to eat it); it is a sweet ‘yeast’ bread, similar in many instances to the popular ‘Lardy Cake’. Very few people or bakeries make it any more, which is a shame, as it really is delicious when it is properly home-made (with well sourced lard) and spread with some butter after being freshly baked. Brotherly Love, as a white yeast bread, will involve kneading and double rising. Therefore it does take time to make, but much of it is in the rising and baking, leaving you free to do your own thing.
All about the Lard: to be honest Brotherly Love is all about the lard spread inside the dough before baking, therefore it is best to go to your local butcher and buy some of the finest local ‘leaf lard’ from a pig they can supply, and not rely on a cheap shop bought block. The highest grade of lard is known as leaf lard and it is obtained from the ‘flare’, the visceral fat deposit surrounding the kidneys and inside the loin of the pig. Boil the leaf lard in a saucepan of water to render it down, and as it melts it will separate and float to the top of the hot water, where it can be scooped off to cool and solidify before being used in this recipe.
Brotherly Love Recipe
- 700g strong white bread flour (plus extra for dusting)
- 450 ml warm water
- 20g dried active yeast (or 30g of fresh yeast)
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 100g lard (pork) softened (leaf lard recommended)
- 160g caster sugar (plus extra to sprinkle)
- 1 Egg, beaten for a wash
Put 200ml of warm water into a jug with 1 tsp of sugar. Sprinkle in the dried active yeast, stir it in, and leave in a warm place for about 5 to 7 minutes. When the yeast has activated and has frothed up pour in the rest of the warm water and stir it in.
In a large mixing bowl sieve in the flour then sprinkle over the salt and (half) 80g of the caster sugar. Then make a well in the centre. Pour in the yeast mixture and mix everything to a loose dough.
Add some more plain white bread flour (if needed) until you form a firm dough which you can knead, it should still be on the ’sticky’ side, but not so that it is difficult to remove from the bowl. You are looking for it to be springy.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface then knead for about 7 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Kneading dough is a ‘push-pull’ technique to break the gluten and starches down in the flour.
Kneading Technique: Hold one end of the dough with one hand and then with the palm of your other hand push the dough away from you, stretching it out a little way. Once stretched (without breaking the dough) pull the dough back in and over with your fingers into a bigger lump once more. Give the dough a quarter turn then repeat. Giving the dough a quarter turn before stretching it back out works all of the dough over the 7 minutes and stretches the gluten out in different directions.
If sticking to the work surface or the dough is a little wet sprinkle over a little extra flour, it will probably need a few casts of extra flour over the 7 minutes, but do not over do it as too much extra flour will make the bread tough.
When ready it will become satiny and elastic, and when pressed with a finger tip the indentation in the dough will rise back out.
Roll the dough into a ball and place in a large floured bowl and cover with a clean cloth or cling-film. The dough will rise best in a warm and moist atmosphere – at about 27°C.
After about 1 to 2 hours, when the dough has more than doubled in size, remove it from the bowl and knead it again for about 3 minutes, this time gently. Then cover and leave to relax for a further 10 minutes.
Grease an oven baking sheet with butter.
Use a rolling pin to gently roll the dough out into a ‘thinish’ 40 x 25cm (16 x 10in) rectangular strip on a lightly floured work surface. Spread (or dab) the softened lard all over the dough rectangle, then sprinkle with the remaining caster sugar (80g).
From the long edge roll the dough (like a swiss roll or jam roly poly) up tightly into a sausage shape and cut it into 4cm (1.5 inch) slices with a sharp knife. Note: Brotherly Love can also be baked without slicing it up – bake leaving it as a long ‘swiss roll’ – and then slice it after baking.
Turn each slice over to sit on its base and place them on the greased baking sheet – leave to rise in a warm area for a further 30 to 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 230C
Brush each slice of Brotherly Love all over with beaten egg and sprinkle over some extra sugar. Bake for 10 minutes at 230C then reduce the heat in the oven to 200C and bake for a further 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Leave to cool on a wire rack. Serve Suffolk Brotherly Love warm and buttered on the day it is freshly baked.