As my love affair with all Yorkshire related baking grows, I chose to make parkin this week. Parkin is traditionally eaten in Yorkshire on 5th November, Bonfire Night, and as I was heading to a firework display with Mr CC and the CCMIL (Caked Crusader’s Mother in Law) it seemed an appropriate treat to have waiting for us on our return.
Parkin is a true test of willpower as it needs to be allowed to age – you can’t leap on it and gobble it up the minute it comes out of the oven! It needs to be stored, in an airtight container, for at least 4 days so the spice and treacle can mellow and mature; the texture also changes and becomes darker and stickier.
I have to admit that when my parkin came out of the oven I was a little disappointed, because it didn’t look particularly dark or sticky. Here it is, freshly baked:
Now, I understand the need for aging. Just look at the difference after two days in an airtight container. It’s sunk, it’s darker and it’s sticky to the touch. If ever there was a reward for patience, this is it:
After four days it had improved even further:
What makes parkin different to gingerbread is the inclusion of oatmeal. This was a stumbling block as I couldn’t find oatmeal anywhere; so I bought rolled oats and blitzed them to a fine, gritty flour in my food processor. The look and taste of my finished parkin matched those I’d eaten in Whitby, so I’m assuming this is an acceptable substitution:
When a slice of parkin is put in front of you, you have a big decision to make – to butter or not to butter? In the interests of science I tried both and liked both. I think buttering the parkin makes it a more substantial bite to eat, and I liked the salty contrast of the butter with the sticky spiced cake. Remember the rule re:buttering - it must be so thick that you can leave teeth marks in it! My dentist could probably identify me from this photo:
225g golden syrup
225g black treacle
115g unsalted butter
50g dark brown sugar
450g plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger – next time I would use more, probably 4 teaspoons
350g medium oatmeal – I couldn’t find this so blitzed rolled oats (i.e. porridge oats) in the food processor until it resembled coarse flour
Optional extra: pinch cayenne pepper
To serve: butter
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
Line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper that comes up above the height of the tin – this makes it easier to lift the baked parkin out.
Place the milk, golden syrup, black treacle, butter, and dark brown sugar into a saucepan. I placed the saucepan on the scales and weighed the syrup and treacle directly into the pan – it stops the scale’s tray getting icky.
Place the pan over a gentle heat and stir continuously until the ingredients have melted and combined. Do not let the mixture boil.
Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
Place the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ground ginger, oatmeal and – if using – the cayenne into a large bowl and mix.
Stir in the egg, then make a well for the wet ingredients.
Stirring all the time, pour in the wet ingredients (from the saucepan) and stir until well combined. It will look a bit gritty because of the oatmeal, so don’t panic.
Pour into the prepared tin and level the surface.
Bake for approximately 40 minutes or, until the surface of the parkin is firm to the touch. The skewer test isn’t great here because you want to retain some squidginess.
Leave the parkin to cool in the tin, until the tin is cool enough to handle.
Remove the parkin from the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
Store in an airtight tin for at least 4 days before eating. You can eat it plain, or buttered.
Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.