This is a wonderful ginger-cake traditionally eaten at ‘Hallowe’en’ and ‘All Soul’s Day’ in Lancashire, (in the North-West of England) when the dearly departed are remembered on All Souls Day (2nd November). With this Harcake recipe there are certain common roots to many other Soulcake traditions found across Britain, see this Soul Cake Recipe for more information. The ingredients (oats, ginger and syrup) also have similarities with Yorkshire Parkin. And like Parkin these home-made ginger cakes are wonderful as treats given out on Halloween, Bonfire Night or traditionally eaten on All Souls Day. It should be noted that this traditional recipe should be left in a cake tin after baking for about 3 days to a week before serving and eating; ageing the Harcake greatly improves it.
Harcake or Soul-mass Cake Recipe
- 60g butter, softened
- 500g fine oatmeal
- 350 ml golden syrup (corn syrup)
- 15g ground ginger
- 1 egg, beaten
- 200ml brown ale or stout (like Newcastle Brown Ale or Guinness)
Pre-heat the oven to 190C
Grease with a little butter and line the base with baking parchment of a 25cm (10 inch) x 20cm (8 inch) baking tin.
In a large mixing bowl add the oatmeal and rub in the softened butter with your fingers.
Sprinkle over the ground ginger and pour in the golden syrup (corn syrup). Use a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients together.
Add the beaten egg and the brown ale and fully mix into a thick, smooth batter, if the batter seems a little dry add in some more brown ale as the oats will absorb a lot of moisture when baking.
Pour this batter for the Harcake into the prepared baking tin and bake in the oven at 190C for 1 and a half hours (90 minutes). After 45 minutes cover the tin with foil to stop the top of the cake browning to quickly and drying out.
Test the cake after 70 minutes by pushing a skewer into the middle of the cake, if it comes out clean and hot the cake is done, if not leave for the full 90 minutes. Make sure you test the cake at intervals, it is easy to dry this cake out as the oatmeal absorbs a lot of the moisture as it bakes. If the cake is drying out too quickly add over the top a little more brown ale.
When the Harcake or Soul-mass Cake is fully baked remove the tin from the oven, cover over with foil and leave to cool for an hour. After an hour carefully turn the cake out and leave to cool completely.
When completely cold cut the cake into squares, cover in baking parchment or greaseproof paper and store in an air-tight cake tin for 3 days to 1 week before serving and eating. They can be served with a little jam or preserve spread on them.