Makes 1 loaf (8 to 10 slices)
1 cup lard or unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing pan
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting pan
3 cups sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 1½-pound capacity loaf pan (10″ Á— 5″ x 3″) with lard, dust with flour, and set aside.
2. Using a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat lard on high until soft and creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and gradually add sugar, then eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low, alternate adding dry ingredients and milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Add vanilla, and mix to combine.
4. Transfer batter to prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into center of the cake comes out clean, 1 to 1½ hours.
5. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then carefully turn loaf out of pan and let cool completely on wire rack. Wrapped with plastic wrap and refrigerated, the cake will keep for several days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Lard (Rendered Pork Fat)
Makes 2 cups
With a sharp knife, trim any blood spots or bits of meat from 1¼ pounds pork fatback or leaf lard (sourced from a reputable butcher). Chop fat into ½-inch cubes. In a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat, simmer fat cubes and ½ cup water, stirring occasionally, until water evaporates, fat begins to melt, and cracklings – little bits of browned fat – float to the surface, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Continue to gently stir periodically until cracklings sink to bottom of pot, 20 to 45 minutes, depending on size of pot and chunks. (Be careful not to overcook once cracklings sink, as they can impart a burnt flavor if they get too brown.) Remove pot from heat. Line a fine-mesh sieve with cheesecloth and strain lard into a clean mason jar, reserving cracklings for another use (they’re especially good on salads). Let cool completely, then cover jar with lid and refrigerate. Refrigerated lard will keep for several months.
Photographs reprinted from Home Cooked by Anya Fernald with Jessica Battilana. Copyright © 2016 by Anya Fernald. Photography copyright © 2016 by Brown W. Cannon III. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.