Sunday, 5 October 2008


This has to be one of the most traditionally British cakes I make. And I put it in the present tense because this cake has at least an annual outing in my house. It is a traditionally northern cake, most often associated with Yorkshire (clearly the best, i.e. my home county!!!) but also with Lancashire and is a very old type of cake. It is defined by the inclusion of oatmeal and treacle - versions without these are blasphemy! I like mine plain, but have seen recipes with candied peel in them.
For me, and I suspect most people who have eaten this, it has strong associations with Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night. J always made this, along with treacle toffee and toffee apples when T and I were small, for when we were watching the fireworks in our back garden. I always loved the parkin the most (but I loved the toffee and toffee apples too!) and the best thing is that because this is such a large cake, there was always some left for a few days after. Parkin is definitely best made in advance - a week is good, but up to two weeks is possibly even better. Make sure you wrap it well after cooking (in a layer of greaseproof paper and then a layer of foil) and leave it in a safe place. And yes, it requires a will of steel to leave it for a week, but it really is worth it. I had to cut the one I made just after it was baked, so that I could take it into work, and the photo at the top looks a little dry - leave it a week and it'll be moist and yummy.
It's the very end of British Food Fortnight now and Antonia at Food, Glorious Food is hosting a British food fortnight challenge. As ever, I am right at the last minute, and hopefully this post will be accepted! I can't really say that my ingredients were local or seasonal as such, I find that baking recipes very rarely are, but where possible I use British - flour, butter, oatmeal, milk etc. Anyway, onto the recipe. This is the one J has handed down to me, and is from an old Cordon Bleu cookery course booklet that she collected some time in the 1970s. It has done us proud, and I hope you'll enjoy it too whether you're celebrating Bonfire Night or not. Ingredients were originally given in oz, so I've converted them to grams as my current scales don't weigh oz (grrr!).
16 oz (450g) plain flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 oz (14g) bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp mixed spice
8 oz (225g) oatmeal (I use medium)
12 oz (340g) soft brown sugar
8 oz (225g) butter
4 oz (115g) golden syrup
4 oz (115g) treacle
1/2 pint (284ml) milk
- Grease and line an 8 inch square cake tin. Preheat the oven to Gas 4/180C.
- In a large saucepan, melt butter, syrup, treacle and milk until all liquid, but not bubbling.
- Sift flour with bicarbonate of soda, salt and spice in a large bowl (use your biggest - mine nearly didn't fit into the bowl I chose!). Stir in oatmeal and soft brown sugar until well mixed.
- Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. It will look like a dark sloppy mess - fear not, all will be well.
- Pour into the lined tin, place in the oven and cook for 1 hr 15 minutes.
- Leave in tin until cool enough to handle then remove to wire rack to cool completely before wrapping it and leaving it for a couple of days.
- Your patience will be rewarded. Enjoy!!!

Yes, it does look burnt. It always, without fail looks like this, but it doesn't taste burnt!!!

1 comment:

A said...

I followed the exact recipe, and gave half of it to some friends - they loved it! I agree on it looking burnt, but actually not :-)


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