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Cornish Hevva Cake

Cornish Hevva / Heavy Cake

Hevva cake is a traditional Cornish, fruit-flavoured, slab-cake reputed to have originated back in the days when huge shoals of pilchards came close in to the coast and were hauled ashore by villagers using seine nets. A Huer or lookout was stationed high on the cliffs who would shout the obscure Cornish word "HEVVA" when a shoal was spotted. Great slabs of Hevva cake would then be baked by the women of the village to feed the returning fishermen and, in fact, the whole village when men, women and children would unite to prepare the harvest of the sea for shipping to market. The cake is always decorated by a cross-cross pattern representing the fish nets and although often incorrectly termed "Heavy cake", when correctly cooked it is a light and tasty treat.


  • 500 grams self-raising flour
  • 200 grams castor sugar
  • 250 grams of margarine
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 250 grams mixed dried fruit

How to Make Hevva / Heavy Cake

  1. Place the flour and margarine in a large mixing bowl and rub lightly together to form fine crumbs.
  2. Mix in the sugar.
  3. Mix in the mixed fruit.
  4. Beat together the eggs and milk and add to the mixture.
  5. Mix these ingredients together and lightly form firm dough.
  6. Heat the oven to 190 °C (Gas 6).
  7. Grease a large oven sheaf.
  8. Roll out the cake mixture to approximately 25 cm by 20 cm and 2.5 cm thick.
  9. Place the cake mix onto the sheaf and cut a criss-cross pattern on the top.
  10. Cook for approximately 30 minutes until golden brown.

Recipe by D.L. Benney (Falmouth, Cornwall)

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