Parkin and Bonfire Night go hand in hand just like Simnel Cake at Easter, mince pies at Christmas and cornflake crispies at Birthday parties! It’s one of my favourite cakes and something we’ve eaten around the 5th November for as long as I can remember.
You may never have heard of Parkin before. It’s a Yorkshire delicacy and a twist on gingerbread using oatmeal in place of a portion of the flour giving it a crumbly texture laced with delicious layers of spice and a sticky treacly top. Old versions use fewer ingredients and lard as the fat, I’ve also seen recommendations for serving it as a warm pudding topped with stewed apples which sounds delicious though I suspect, like everything, it would benefit from the addition of cream.
It’s super easy to make so don’t let the amount of ingredients put you off. The recipe here was given to me by a student I used to teach at evening class when I was living back in Yorkshire. He brought it along one session as a sharing plate much to my absolute delight, and was more than happy to share the recipe which had won him prizes at the village fair beating all the W.I. ladies into second place.
Tim Kendall’s Prize Winning Ginger Parkin
4 oz unsalted butter or margarine
3 oz dark muscovado sugar
6 oz golden syrup
4 oz black treacle
3 fl oz whole milk
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
6 oz plain flour
6 oz medium oatmeal (usually found in whole food shops)
2 teaspoons ground ginger (more if you like)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of ground mace
scrape of nutmeg
1 large egg, beaten
Heat the oven to 150°C. Grease a 7–8 inch square tin and line the bottom with greaseproof paper.
Gently melt the butter, sugar, golden syrup, black treacle and half the milk over a low heat, taking care not to let it get too hot. Set it to aside to cool slightly.
Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the remaining milk and leave to one side.
Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, mace and nutmeg into a large bowl and add the oatmeal (unsifted) stirring to combine.
Make a well in the dry ingredients, add the cooled sugar/syrup mixture and mix well.
Add the beaten egg and mix again.
Finally mix in the milk and bicarbonate of soda blend.
Pour into the prepared tin and pop it in the oven for approximately 1 hour but check on it’s progress after 45 minutes. Insert a cake tester or skewer into the centre; if it comes out cleanish then it’s done.
Leave to cool then wrap well in greaseproof paper (leave the original paper it baked with in place and double wrap) followed by a layer of foil.
Now comes the hard part…Parkin is best eaten a few days after it’s been made. I know, I know, but trust me, it’s worth the wait! I manage to wait it out for a couple of days but up to a week is optimal giving the ginger and other spices time to mellow and the sugars time to sticky up a little bit.
Cut it into large chunks, approx 12-16 depending on greed and wash down with a mug of tea.