Hello! I hope you've all had a nice weekend. It's jolly cold here, and misty, and the air outside is filled with the smell of bonfires and the sound of fireworks as tomorrow is Bonfire Night. In Yorkshire, it is traditional to eat parkin at this time of year and this recipe was given to me by Jean, my mother-in-law, last week*. The recipe came from her mother-in-law, Evelyn, who was born and bred in Yorkshire, so I think it's safe to assume that it is an authentic recipe. Grandma Evelyn's Bonfire Night Parkin was legendary in the family.
I have lived in Yorkshire for twelve years now and I only last year realised that this is a local custom. I have spent a couple of Bonfire Nights at my friend Lesley's house (she is also proper born and bred Yorkshire, unlike newcomers like me) and she would always want to know who was bringing the parkin. Why all this fuss about parkin, I thought? I just assumed she really liked it. But no, it's tradition. And I love traditions. It's also popular to have pie and peas on Bonfire Night here, but I prefer the custom that involves cake. What Bonfire Night traditions do you have where you live? As a child, I remember eating baked potatoes and hot dogs - basically food that was warming but easy to eat outside without too much need for plates or cutlery, while standing around a big fire and watching fireworks. My Mum, who grew up in London, remembers her mother making a huge tray of gingerbread every year for the 5th November, and Jean remembers always being given "Bonfire Toffee" which is toffee made with treacle as far as I can tell.
Parkin is sticky and chewy with a texture somewhere between cake and flapjack, and the treacle and ginger give it a sweet and smoky flavour that is perfect for this time of year. It is unusual in that it tastes better when you leave it a week or two. Fresh from the oven it tastes nice; but when wrapped and stored in a tin for a while the flavours infuse and it becomes the most delicious moist, dark affair.
4 oz or 110 grams self raising flour
4 oz or 110 grams butter
8 oz or 225 grams oats
3 oz or 80 grams sugar
2 teaspoons ginger
4 oz or 110 grams golden syrup
4 oz or 110 grams treacle
1/4 pint or 150 ml milk
- Pre-heat the oven to 130°C or 260°F.
- Grease and line a square and fairly deep baking tin or dish.
- Combine the flour and butter until they resemble breadcrumbs.
- Add the oats, sugar and ginger and mix well.
- In a saucepan, warm the syrup and treacle, then add the milk and stir.
- Pour the wet mixture into the dry and mix well.
- Scrape into your prepared tin and bake for around one hour. It may need up to one and a half hours.
* Jean also gave me two other recipes, one for a chocolate cake, and one for something called a "Never Fail" cake - I have to try that one!