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Thorcake or Thor or Tharf Cake

Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire

Thick (c 1½ins) soft biscuit of wheatflour and oatmeal with butter, dark sugar, candied peel, ginger and coriander seeds. Similar to the modern flapjacks

The name may come from the Old English 'theorf' meaning plain or unprocessed or unleavened, in which sense it appears in the Lindisfarne Gospels of 950AD. It has also been recorded as Tharf-kyek, Thaaf-keahyk, Thaf-kyek, Tharth-kyek, Thaugh-cyek, Thor Cake and Tharfy. It is possibly related to Harcake and to Parkin.

'Thor Cakes'

Tharf Cake has a strong association with Halloween, from which it has become transferred, like many old customs, to November 5th.

Lancashire Evening Post - Tuesday 01 November 1904

Original receipt adapted from Peakland Heritage

A number of villages had 'Tharf Cake Joinings' on Bonfire Night, 5 November. Some recipes were baked in cake tins about 2 in (5cm) deep, but this version makes a kind of biscuit:

Half a pound (230g) each of oatmeal, self-raising flour and sugar
6 oz (170g) black treacle
6 oz (170g) butter
1 oz (30g) candied peel
1 teasp baking powder
Pinches of ground ginger, salt and coriander seeds

Well grease a baking tray. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients and add the warmed treacle. Knead lightly before rolling out and cutting into thin rounds. Bake for about 10 minutes at 375F, 190C gas mark 5.

For other seasonal traditions, see: Halloween

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