Nothing felt more homely and welcoming when I was growing up in my home town of Redcar, North Yorkshire, than entering my Aunty Mary’s old terrace house and smelling the delights being created in her kitchen.
Artie, her friendly black spaniel, also shared my enthusiasm for her cheerful personality and her home cooking hospitality.
One such recipe, Parkin, is a traditional cake (not for the health conscious or diabetic) that is basically a ginger cake packed with oats and treacle. It is mentioned in my books, such as: For Richer, For Poorer, as its recipe has been passed down the generations.
It was certainly made during the Industrial Revolution and gained favour as the ideal snack to partake of in November on a cold Bonfire Night on the 5th. The first Sunday of that month is referred to as ‘Parkin Sunday’.
This rich cake, full of flavour, also helped to keep hardworking folk filled and warmed through the cold winter months.
Lancashire also has its own recipes for parkin, but there are differences between the two versions. Yorkshire includes oats and uses more black treacle (molasses) giving a darker distinct flavour. Lancashire Parkin tends to be lighter and sweeter using more golden syrup (not corn syrup, which is different) instead. Opinions on this vary, as much as the recipes because some people leave out the oats all together, but this version hits the mark when you want to feel re-energized on a cold and dreary day.
The recipe I have included here is the one my Aunty Mary used and the one that when I do indulge takes me back to my childhood, a warm and loving home with my aunt and of course dear old Artie.
5 oz oats
4 oz SR flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Pinch of salt
5 oz black treacle
3 oz golden syrup
4 oz soft brown sugar
4 oz butter
2 large beaten eggs
1 tbsp milk
- Line a 1lb loaf tin with baking paper or a paper loaf case.
- Preheat oven to 150C
- Assemble dry ingredients in a large bowl
- Melt the brown sugar with the treacle, syrup and butter – DO NOT BOIL THEM – remove from heat once the sugar has melted. Allow to cool slightly.
- Pour the hot mixture into the dry ingredients and mix.
- Add eggs and milk – stir well. You should have a thick liquid batter mix.
- Pour into the prepared tin and bake for between 1 to 1 hour and 20 minutes. Or until a skewer comes out clean when tested. The cake should be firm and springy.
- Allow to cool in the baking tin.
The resulting cake should be dark, sticky, and spicy and has a flavour that improves if it is left in an airtight tin for 3-5 days after it has been allowed to cool.
Then enjoy a slice with a nice cup of tea – but in moderation!
If you know any other versions of this old favourite or more about the origins of it I would love to see your comments.