Harcake (Thor Cake)

Tradition for Guy Fawkes Night: Now, I can hear you saying “what is she doing talking about Guy Fawkes Night in October”. Well, I’m not as daft as I look. Harcake was traditionally served on either Guy Fawkes Night or All Souls Day (2nd November). However, you need to cook it at least a week in advance to allow the flavours to take hold. Traditionally it was cooked at least 3 weeks in advance. There are several variations of this ginger-cake depending on where in the country you come from. This variation purports to come from Lancashire where it was served sliced and buttered along with mugs of hot milk for the children and spiced elderberry wine for the adults. I expect that warded off the cold.

Ingredients: 9-inch square cake tin

4oz Lard 8oz medium oatmeal
4oz golden syrup 4 level tsps ground ginger
4oz black treacle 2 level tsps ground cinnamon
4oz sugar 1 tevel tsps bicarbonate of soda
8oz plain flour 1 egg, beaten
5 fl oz milk  


  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C/355°F/Gas Mark 4.
  2. Grease and line a 9inch square cake tin.
  3. In a saucepan, melt the lard and add the syrup, treacle and sugar.
  4. Warm over a very low heat until the sugar begins to dissolve.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients and make a well in the centre.
  6. Gradually beat in the liquid and add the beaten egg. Add as much milk as is needed to form a soft consistency.
  7. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake towards the bottom of the oven for 1 - 1¼ hours.
  8. Allow to cool a little in the tin. Turn out and cool on a wire rack.
  9. Once cool, wrap in tin foil and keep in an airtight container for at least a week.

[Cook’s note: This may require hiding the container, attaching an alarm, telling lies as to where you have hidden the cake or other methods of subterfuge. My Official Taster felt it necessary to try a slice everyday to ensure that the quality did not pass the optimum.
To serve (if there is any left after a week!), cut into slices and butter.


Sweet Spices

Rolled Oats