Brian Turner’s The Havercake Recipe to Celebrate The Appeal

This History of The Havercake
The Havercake is a form of bread, consisting of oatmeal, and a batter made of water (or milk, buttermilk for preference) and some self raising flour. The secret of producing a good Havercake, however, lies in the mixing and, particularly, the method of cooking, by quickly rolling the oatmeal batter onto a very hot plate, then transferring it to a cooler plate for a time to remove excess moisture. Properly done, the Havercake will remain soft for a few days. These oatcakes were common all over the country until the late 1950s, due to their relative cheapness; not many working folk could afford much white flour in those days. Oatcakes were often made at home and it would be common for them to be seen hanging from creels above the range or kitchen fire to dry out and become crisp.

In Yorkshire, to demonstrate that the local oat cakes were the best, the German word for oats, haver, was adopted and the term caught on.

The West Riding Regiment became famous for their use of the local havercakes to entice young men to join up, when hunger was an everyday experience for many.

An eyewitness described the following march, on a route through Bradford which was well used when the Regiment marched to York to build the ranges on Strensall Common, in the late 19th Century:

“…a party of the West Riding Regiment in their red kerseys marching down the road to Bradford Moor Barracks, in fours, and they were carrying wooden ‘templates’ shaped like havercakes. A proper Havercake oatmeal would not have stood up to the strain and, in any case, some of the hungry soldiers would have arrived at Bradford Moor with their havercakes missing.”

Mr Lord, Havercake baker, Bradford, interviewed in 1957.

The art of Havercake making has all but disappeared, but the Regimental Headquarters was able to obtain supplies for events from a baker in Bradford up until 2002.

A further link to the Regiment was established during the interview with Mr Lord, the oats supplied were from a mill owned by Brigadier General R E Sugden, who had fought with and commanded, the 4th Battalion of the Regiment during the First World War.

Havercakes were part of the staple diet of West Yorkshire and the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. To be able to survive on the original must in itself have been character building, so is here is the recipe for the  Havercake  updated made hopefully more enjoyable.
It has been a privilege to work on this project and I wish you all well in your celebrations of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment Memorial.’
Brian Turner CBE