A couple of weeks ago while talking to a man in a shop about fat (as you do) he recommended I try some of their leaf lard, as they'd been told recently by another customer that it was the best thing ever for making puff. The method they described sounded simple enough but as one of the few individuals who genuinely enjoys the lengthy process of laminating butter through dough, I'd never actually made a rough puff before. Admittedly, I've also been somewhat dubious that it could ever replicate the beautiful layering that is characteristic of a good puff but I felt I should try it at some point, and since there were various opinions as to the best butter-to-lard ratio being touted, I decided to compare a full lard puff (left) with a half-butter, half-lard combination (right).
The lard was beautiful to work with, and while the 100% version was slightly less forgiving in rolling out, there wasn't a great deal of difference between the two doughs pre-bake.
To test their pastry potential I settled on galette des rois, and after each were filled with a luxurious almond cream it was time to see how the two puffs held up.
Both had their pluses and minuses. The butter-lard combination performed better aesthetically with better layering and a smoother, light golden finish; while the full lard version was better texturally, being flakier and more crisp. On first impressions neither was as good for the job as a full butter puff, but it was not the fairest of comparisons for a couple of reasons.
Those of you who've been following TPB for a while will know I've tackled the galette des rois previously and that, after a first time false sense of ability, things didn't always go so smoothly. This time was unfortunately more like the latter, and while both galettes tasted fine and sliced up alright, straight from the oven what they actually looked like was this:
It's barely a fair contest when the basis for comparison is something so disastrous, but despite the poor aesthetics it was actually taste that had me sensing that these doughs weren't quite up to the task. Leaf lard is obtained from the visceral fat that surrounds the kidneys of pigs, and while it isn't necessarily 'meaty', to my tastes it just wasn't suited to the delicate nature of a good galette. Although it was subtle I sense the flavour would go far better with something savoury, and since it only seems fair to tackle a few pies before calling it you'd all better stay tuned for round two...