Cornish Hevva Cake

Cornish Hevva Cake Recipe

The Hevva Cake – or, heavy cake – is a traditional Cornish cake, made simply without leavening or eggs. Associated with the Cornish pilchard industry, its name is associated with the landing of a shoal of fish at which point the huer on the clifftops would cry “hevva, hevva”, the cue for the wives of the fishermen to return home to bake.

Perhaps the closest relative to Cornish hevva cake is the Welsh cake. Though Welsh cakes contain a beaten egg, and are slightly different in texture as a result, their flavours are relatively close. The look of the two “cakes” is where they differ greatly.

Recipe for Cornish Heavy Cake

Because hevva cake is essentially a signal of the heavy pilchard nets being pulled aboard, it bears a mark reminiscent of the act. Before baking the raw dough must be scored diagonally is two directions so as to resemble a fishing net. It is this, not the flavour of the cake that makes it truly Cornish.

Depending on the recipe you’re using hevva cake contains either butter or lard. Without doubt, lard is the more authentic of the two. Butter, however, conveys rather more flavour than lard and is an ingredient more frequently used elsewhere. Using butter makes for less chance of waste and a better taste all round.

Cornish Hevva Cake

Makes 1 Thin Cake


  • 200g plain flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp ginger powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 100g salted butter (or lard)
  • 100g currants
  • 2-3 tbsp milk


  1. Grease a large baking sheet and preheat the oven to 190C/170C(fan).
  2. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, adding the salt, spices and sugar. Tip in the butter and work the mixture together with your fingers until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Incorporate the currants and bring the mixture together into a stiff dough with milk – 2 or 3 tbsp should be enough.
  4. Transfer the dough onto a well floured surface and roll out until little over 1cm in thickness.
  5. Move the rolled out cake onto the prepared baking sheet and score the top so as to resemble a fishing net.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown, sprinkle with a little more sugar and serve warm.

How Do You Make Cornish Hevva Cake Recipe for Cornish Hevva Cake

Cost: Cornish hevva cake is about as simple as cake gets; it doesn’t even contain eggs. Unsurprisingly, this makes it just about the most frugal cake you could hope for, setting the baker back no more than £1.

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32 comments on “Cornish Hevva Cake

  1. Anne Bonney
    December 17, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    Thanks for the recipe and the background information!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 18, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      My pleasure – I love the history behind food.

  2. Chica Andaluza
    December 17, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    Had never heard of this cake – what an interesting post. And the cake sounds right up my street 🙂

    • frugalfeeding
      December 18, 2014 at 12:05 pm

      Thank you 🙂 – It’s an excellent cake, one that I only found out about recently too.

  3. Allotment adventures with Jean
    December 17, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    An interesting post, and I reckon that recipe would be great for lunch boxes.

    • frugalfeeding
      December 18, 2014 at 12:05 pm

      Thank you – yes, it’s great for lunch and as a snack 🙂

  4. Karen
    December 18, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    Interesting post, especially of the hevva cakes markings that resemble a fishing net.

    • frugalfeeding
      January 5, 2015 at 10:23 am

      Yes, I found their heritage very interesting indeed. I love the quirks of traditional recipes.

  5. Jean |
    December 18, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    I love making English (my heritage) recipes, and I have never heard of this cake! Can’t wait to try it!

    • frugalfeeding
      January 5, 2015 at 10:22 am

      Please do – it’s a really excellent, simple cake.

  6. taplatt
    December 19, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    This looks intriguing, and like it’d be a great afternoon snack. Is it more flapjack-y than cake-y?

    • frugalfeeding
      January 5, 2015 at 10:22 am

      It’s not really either, definitely not anything like a flapjacks. More like a scone (British).

  7. Conor Bofin
    December 19, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Nick, they look particularly tasty. Again, I suggest, great cycling food.
    Happy Christmas to you and yours,

  8. Laurie
    December 23, 2014 at 3:32 am

    Thanks! I’ve never heard of this cake. Now I have a new dish for my baking repertoire.

    • frugalfeeding
      January 5, 2015 at 10:14 am

      It’s very simple, but delicious too. I hope you like it if you give it a go.

  9. grainnep
    December 30, 2014 at 8:27 am

    I have never come across this before, it looks delicious.

    • frugalfeeding
      January 5, 2015 at 10:12 am

      I hadn’t until recently – so glad I made it 🙂

  10. myfangalicious
    January 4, 2015 at 1:38 am

    that looks delicious. i want that now!

  11. odelleasmith
    January 6, 2015 at 7:20 am

    Tried, tasted & delicious…
    Love true Heritage Food. The Traditions that this is based on makes it even more interesting, thanks for sharing a great recipe & enlightening me to the ‘Cornish Fishing Industry’.

    • frugalfeeding
      January 6, 2015 at 10:12 am

      Me too – there’s something so interesting about it! I’ll endeavour to try more traditional classics.

  12. Laurie
    January 13, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    I made a gluten-free blueberry version of your Hevva Cake today. Thanks for introducing me to Hevva Cake! I hope that you enjoy the post, Nick!

    • frugalfeeding
      January 14, 2015 at 10:29 am

      My pleasure! I saw the post – looks lovely.

  13. lovinghomemade
    January 24, 2015 at 10:04 am

    Had never heard of this, sounds great and with a great story

    • frugalfeeding
      January 25, 2015 at 4:24 pm

      I know! When I read about it, I had to make it. Glad you like it.

  14. Susan
    February 1, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Well! Currants are a great favourite of mine – I look forward to trying your hevva cake.

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