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Lancashire Havercakes with Lime & Gin Marmalade recipe

PUBLISHED: 00:00 09 February 2018

Havercake by the Boho Baker

Havercake by the Boho Baker

debby donnelly-addison

The Boho Baker makes a traditional Lancashire cake that could be a great alternative to pancakes.

Boho Baker, Debby Donnelly-Addison Boho Baker, Debby Donnelly-Addison

This grown-up brunch dish is the perfect marriage of traditional Lancashire baking and its culinary sweetheart, gin. Havercake, the slightly-leavened bread eaten by the labouring classes of East Lancashire from the 1600s and beyond, was so popular that a Rochdale regiment used them to lure young men into recruitment back in the early 1800s.

The havercakes would have traditionally been baked on a heated stone and left to dry out so young soldiers could take them on the road for sustenance. In fact, so popular were these oat filled pancakes, that the regiment took on the name “The Havercake Lads” and even went as far as assuming a havercake as their badge. Quite a testament to how delicious these little breads are.

While havercakes are perfectly satisfying with a lashing of butter or dipped into soup, I couldn’t resist pairing it up with zingy, zesty limes and a slosh of gin to create the ultimate Sunday brunch.

I opted for Birkdale Gin as the flavour profile marries up perfectly with the sharpness of the lime and provides a gentle kick of flavour without being too punchy. This recipe makes approximately four large jars of marmalade, perfect for gifts or simply stashing away for yourself.


For the Havercakes

180g Finely ground oatmeal

90g plain flour

2 tablespoons fast acting yeast

Pinch of salt

300ml milk

200ml water

For the Lime & Gin Marmalade

700g fresh limes

1.4kg white granulated sugar

1.65 litres water

80 ml gin

You will need

4 large, sterilised jam jars

Small square of muslin cloth


1. Starting with the jam, pour the water into a large, metal based pan. Slice the limes in half and squeeze the juice directly into the water.

2. Lay out your square of muslin and scrape out the membrane and seeds from the empty lime halves. Gather up the edges and tie at the top with a piece of string. Pop it in the pan with the juice and water.

3. If you like your marmalade chunky, finely slice the lime halves into strips and add them to the pan. Leave to soak overnight.

4. The following day (or immediately, if you’re not using any of peel), bring the pan to the boil, before reducing the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for two hours. Place a saucer in the refrigerator to check the setting point later on.

5. Remove the muslin bag from the pan and give it a gentle squeeze to remove any excess juice. Keeping the pan on a low heat, add the sugar and gently stir until dissolved. Increase the heat and allow the jam to reach a rollicking rolling boil, keeping this up until the marmalade reaches setting point. Keep an eye on the pan at the stage as it is very easy for the marmalade to boil over.

6. To check the setting point, take your cold saucer from the refrigerator and drop a teaspoon of marmalade onto the surface. If you tilt the saucer sideways and the marmalade is still runny, it needs more boiling time. Do not be disheartened if this doesn’t happen first time, as the marmalade can take between 5 and 25 minutes to reach the setting point. You will know it is finished and ready to jar when you drop a blob on the plate and it is no longer runny.

7. Pour 20ml of gin into each jam jar and top up with the marmalade. Add the lids and give each jar a gentle shake before leaving to cool (be sure to wrap a tea towel around it first as the jars will be very hot). Leave to cool completely overnight before gobbling up on some delicious havercakes.

8. To get started on the havercakes, pop the oatmeal and flour into a bowl and add a pinch of salt.

9. Pour the milk and water into the same jug and heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds on medium high. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients, add the yeast, and give it a good stir until the batter resembles regular pancake mix, albeit with a few oats thrown in. Cover with foil or cling film, and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes.

10. Once the 30 minutes has elapsed, give the batter another stir. You may find that the oats have settled to the bottom of the bowl, so make sure you give it a little elbow grease and give them a jolly good stir to ensure they’re evenly distributed.

11. Add a knob of butter to a frying pan and melt over a medium-high heat. Add a ladle of havercake batter and leave to cook and puff up for about a minute, or until you can comfortably get a spatula underneath to flip it over. Cook the other side for the same amount of time before removing from the pan. Enjoy immediately with slathers of lime and gin marmalade, keeping any excess havercakes in a bread bin to enjoy later.


1. To sterilise your jam jars, rinse in hot, soapy water, place on a baking tray and leave to dry out in the oven on a low heat for 15 minutes.

2. If you prefer a crispy havercake that is more akin to a cracker, bake in the oven (rather than frying) for 25 minutes on 180C/350F/Gas mark 4. Store in a cool, dry place and enjoy with cheese and chutney.

You can see more of Debby’s work @thebohobaker on Instagram.

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