Sunday, 4 November 2012

Bonfire Night: Parkin

My second Bonfire Night recipe is Parkin: a dark, chewy, crumbly, gingery cake. It can be bought all year round but is most traditionally associated with this time of year. The recipe is also known as Yorkshire Parkin and contains treacle. There is another version, Lancashire Parkin, which is much lighter in colour and texture because it contains both treacle and golden syrup.

Oh dear, I can feel the spirits of my Lancashire ancestors disowning me but, whisper it, I think I prefer the Yorkshire version*. However, as I've played around with the recipe by altering the spices, adding extra ingredients to make it even more gingery, and I'm a Lancashire girl, maybe they'll forgive me if I call it Larkshire Parkin?

By far the hardest part of this recipe is that, after baking, you should leave it to one side for a few days to allow the flavour to develop. It's worth the wait, I promise!

Larkshire Parkin

175g treacle
150g butter
100g dark muscovado sugar
3 pieces of stem ginger, coarsely grated
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated
175g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon mace
275g medium oatmeal
1 egg
150ml milk
1 tablespoon ginger syrup (from the jar of stem ginger)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160 Fan/350F/Gas 4
2. Put the treacle, butter and sugar into a pan and heat gently until the butter and sugar have melted. Cool slightly. Add the grated stem ginger and fresh ginger.
3. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices into a large bowl and add the oatmeal.
4. Mix the egg, milk and ginger syrup together in a separate bowl.
5. Add the egg mixture and treacle mixture to the dry ingredients and stir well.
6. Pour into a lined 20cm square deep tin. The mixture is quite runny but don't worry - as it bakes the oatmeal will absorb the moisture. Bake for 55 minutes or until firm.
7. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out.
8. When completely cold, wrap in greaseproof paper and store for a few days to allow the flavour to develop.

Parkin can be served on its own but it's also traditionally served sliced with butter. However, I still had some of the maple buttercream from the Halloween muffins so Chickpea and I decided to have a taste off.

Two slices were spread with butter (thickly for Chickpea and a thin scraping for me) and two with the buttercream. Which would we prefer? Well, I was expecting the buttercream to win but, as Chickpea noted, the maple flavour somehow seemed to minimise the ginger of the parkin. We were both unanimous that butter was the perfect combination.

This is the first time I've made parkin and the first time I've tasted it in many years but I'll definitely be making it again: I'd forgotten just how delicious it is.

I'd love to know what you think if you decide to make this recipe. However, if you don't fancy trying parkin but like the idea of a ginger cake, my all-time favourite ginger cake recipe is Preserved Ginger Cake with Lemon Icing by Delia Smith. I've made it lots and lots of times and it's always absolutely yummy - mmm, mmm!

*Lancashire-Yorkshire rivalry has been around for several centuries - see the War of the Roses.


  1. Oh, these regional variations are awfully confusing!! It seems mine is a Lancashire parkin. Or not..who cares, it's tasty! I love your way of eating it with butter. I've never tried that but I think mine was a little dry and would definitely be improved by butter.

    1. Mine was a bit dry too but Mum says this is normal and is down to the oatmeal. Definitely preferred it with butter. I might try your version just to see what the golden syrup adds to the flavour. x