Hevva Cake

With so many wonderful eateries and places to visit in and around the area, you might not even bother with cooking, but should you find yourself with some time to spare here, is a very simple recipe for a local cake.

Cornish hevva cake is an old Cornish recipe. It was traditionally made by fisherman’s wives to welcome their husband’s home from a successful fishing trip. A cliff top ‘huer’ looked out for shoals of pilchards (silver sardines). When he or she spotted a shoal, they’d alert the fishermen by shouting ‘heva, heva’ and guide them to it using gorse branches. Heva is a derivation of the Cornish ‘hes va’, which means something like ‘there’s a shoal here’. As soon as the womenfolk heard the cry, they’d start baking their hevva to serve hot when their men arrived home. Heva became hevva and later morphed into the anglicised version ‘heavy’. It’s really not a heavy cake at all, but neither is it light and spongy. It’s a simple and frugal bake with no eggs or spices, just flour, fat, sugar and currants. The main thing that distinguishes this bake from similar ones across the country is a criss cross pattern marked on the top of the cake to represent a fishing net.

This was made for us by our dearest Cornish friends the first time we came to Cornwall and of course we were waved goodbye with the recipe.

They now run an amazing B&B in Alberobello Italy called Trullo Casa Rosa and can be found at and we can personally and wholeheartedly recommend a visit.



  • 500g Self-raising flour
  • 250g Butter
  • 360g Mixed dried fruit
  • 180g Sugar
  • 100ml Milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line a medium, square cake tin.
  2. Rub the butter into the flour until it's the texture of fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and fruit and mix well. Add the milk and mix to a soft, stiff dough.
  3. Press into the cake tin, pushing down firmly in the corners. Score the top of the cake with a sharp knife, making criss-cross diagonal lines.
  4. Place in the middle of the preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and while still warm, brush with milk and give a generous sprinkling of granulated sugar. Allow to cool and cut generous slices.Cornish Chalet Holidays Heavy Cake