By Kevin Williams
You know, you’d think there’d have to be a better name for this recipe. But, alas, they are called lard cakes. It’s an old doughnut type recipe from the Swiss Indiana Amish. This particular doughnut is most popular on hog butchering day, which usually occurs in late winter (February or March). Hog butchering is hot, messy work and you don’t want to be doing it in the middle of June or July, that is for sure. So hog-butchering is usually a task saved for after the holiday and New Year’s rush during one of the quietest times of year. So I am sure these lard cakes are being fried up in some Amish kitchens right about now somewhere.
I remember being on WHO radio in Des Moines back in the mid-90s talking about this recipe and the host just thought it was a hilarious name. He didn’t think I was serious but, I told him, lard cakes is the name.
The Amish Cook column ran the lard cakes recipe once back in the mid-90s. That is when the Amish Cook made a brief one column run in The Flint Journal in Michigan. The food editor thought the recipe was fascinating and decided to do a contract to run The Amish Cook one time in the paper. SIGH, I was hoping I could persuade him to carry it permanently, but no luck.
Lard cakes get their rather unappealing name because they’re traditionally deep-fried in melted lard, but this recipe works just as well with vegetable shortening. Oh well, here is this well-traveled, funny-named recipe that is basically just a doughnut.
Serves: 24 cakes
- 1½ c heavy cream
- 2¼ c sour milk
- 2 heaping tsp baking soda
- 3 lg eggs
- 3 to 4 c all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tsp sugar, plus sugar for rolling
- Lard or vegetable shortening, for frying
- COMBINE the cream, sour milk, baking soda, eggs, and flour in a large bowl.
- The consistency should be similar to that of a pie dough, so add a little more flour if needed.
- Add the salt and sugar.
- Roll out to a 1 /4-inch thickness and cut up into any shapes as big as you wish, or into 2 by 4-inch pieces.
- Cut a 2½-inch slit in the center of each cake. Make sure the slit goes completely through the cake.
- HEAT the lard in a deep kettle or pan to a depth of about 2 inches until very hot.
- Fry the cakes in batches until golden, about 1 minute on each side.
- Roll the cakes in a pan of sugar while still warm.