Week Twenty Three – Mary Berry’s Traditional Parkin

Parkin?? Until today, I had only vaguely heard of it and didn’t really know what it was or it’s origins. According to Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, it is ” a favourite from the North of England“……this got me curious so I tried to dig a little further into the history of this gingerbread type of cake.

I found a few variations of it’s “history” but little seems to be known about where it started other than- “Parkin is a traditional gingerbread eaten in Autumn, in Yorkshire. It is a sweet and sticky cake that is perfect for long winter evenings. Often associated with NorthYorkshire, particularly the Leeds and York regions, the origins of parkin are not known. It is also baked in other Northern regions such as Lancashire. Parkin is a moist and sticky cake which is traditionally eaten on Bonfire Night, but can be eaten all year round. Guy Fawkes was born in Yorkshire, and this tasty gingerbread, which originated in that area, is traditionally baked in November to celebrate the foiling of his plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament!The principal ingredients of parkin are white flour, oats, black treacle or molasses, butter and ginger. All these ingredients were important constituents of Northern, working-class diet in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, so it is likely that parkin evolved in that period. It is a cheap and filling cake that is distinguishable for its dark colour and lovely rich consistency.”

So , with Mary’s recipe in mind, I melted the butter with the black treacle and dark sugar. I had put the dry ingredients of flour, spices and porridge oats in a bowl and in a jug had the milk, egg and bicarbonate of soda. Once the butter and treacle had dissolved the sugar, I let it cool and then mixed all the ingredients together. Into the prepared tin it went and into the oven for an hour.

Mary Berry's Traditional Parkin

My dogs were hanging around drooling, like they always do when I am baking but they were out of luck , no drips, no bowl to lick as they have both put weight on and need to watch their waist lines!!

PING went the timer after an hour and I took the parkin out, it was dark and firm (!) and I left it in it’s tin for Mary’s recommended 10 minutes, then put it on the cooling rack. When it was cool, I cut it into squares and have put it away for a week as apparently it will be much nicer…..according to Mary!

Kim's parkin

Although it’s not November, as is traditional, it’s bloomin’ cold outside, we have coal in our fuel burner and the dogs are laying on their bed in front of it- I think that qualifies!