A longer version of this (with much more about the whats and whys of parkin) is featured on Gransnet. If you’d like to make a comment with your parkin ponderings – and I really hope you will – please do so here.
Parkin was traditionally baked in a roasting or dripping tin. Baking yours that way will give you an authentic shape, but otherwise you could use a 20cm square cake tin or a loaf tin. Whatever you decide upon, line it first with baking paper so that the parkin doesn’t stick to the tin and you have a nightmare getting it out. This is a sticky cake.
Ripon Parkin from ‘Good Things in England’ by Florence White – This recipe was given to Florence by Mr Herbert M. Bower and it’s his ingredients and method that follow. I’ve made a few additional comments and they are the bits in brackets.
3/4 lb (340g) medium oatmeal
3/4 lb (340g) plain flour
2oz (55g) butter
2oz (55g) lard
1/4 lb (110g) brown sugar
1 lb (454g – handily, this is the net weight of one of those red Lyle’s Black Treacle tins)
2 tbsps milk
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp ground ginger
Bake in a slow oven for about 1 1/2 hours
2. Blend the flour, oatmeal, ginger and sugar all together. (‘blend’ as in mix, not as in use a blender)
3. Melt the treacle and mix that in. (I warmed the treacle in a bowl set over a pan of hot water. Like you would for melting chocolate. Doing this did make the treacle softer and easier to use.)
4. Finally, dissolve the soda in the milk and add that.
5. Mix well, bake in a dripping tin, and cook in a slow oven. (The amount of mixture was exactly right for my 9″x7.5″ roasting tin. A slow oven is 150C / 300F / gas mark 2)
6. When done cut into squares; or the parkin may be rolled out and cut into rounds.
Your parkin is ready when a knitting needle or skewer into its centre comes out without cake stuck to it but it still feels a bit soft in the middle. Be careful not to keep it oven too long or the oatmeal will have absorbed too much of the gooeyness and your cake will taste dry. Leave to cool in the tin, turn it out and store in an airtight container for a few days or a week BEFORE YOU START TO EAT IT. If you can.
You’ve had one version from Yorkshire, so in the interests of achieving regional balance here is one from Lancashire. And not just any old recipe but that one from my mum was taught at school in Bolton in the late 1940s / early 50s. That makes it a relatively modern version (she’ll be very happy at me saying that) so that is why you will see they used self-raising and wholemeal flour to make it lighter than if made with mainly oats, and that it was baked in a loaf tin.
4oz (115g) margarine
2oz (60g) demerara sugar
2oz (60g) dark brown sugar
4oz (115g) self raising flour
4oz (115g) wholemeal flour
2oz (60g) medium oats
1 tbsp syrup
1 tbsp treacle
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
1. Begin by mixing together these ‘dry’ ingredients: the flours, oats, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
2. In another bowl beat the margarine and sugars until fluffy. Then add in the eggs one by one.
3. Stir the ‘dry’ ingredients’ into the bowl of marg, sugars and egg. Now mix in the syrup and treacle.
4. You are again aiming for a dropping consistency, so add in enough milk to achieve that and then no more.
5. Put the mix into your lined loaf tin and then the rest is just as for the Ripon Parkin above.