i’ve read about parkin over recent years and have always been intrigued, but only just got round to making it.

parkin is a cake from the north of england (yorkshire is most often referred to but some in lancashire also seem to claim it as their own) and while it has local/familial variations, the heart of most recipes seem to be black treacle and oatmeal. ginger and other warming spices also seem to be common as does the advice to make it a few days (or even a week) in advance, so the flavour has time to mature and the texture to becomes moister and more sticky!

autumn, and more specifically bonfire night are often the prompt for this to be cooked, so i’m a bit late, but nevertheless, here it is! it is the only parkin i’ve ever tried, so i’ve been dependent on friends for feedback, one of whom talked about the partkins of her childhood varying enormously from a much more crumbly and dry to something more akin to a gingerbread or cake.

i think this is quite a good starting point for someone new to parkin. the flavours are very reminiscent of treacle toffee and gingerbread; i really liked the little nuggets of crystallised ginger; and the texture, which is like a heavy cake, shows off the difference that using oatmeal makes. and the advice about making it advance is worth taking – i’ve just had a piece one week after baking and it was definitely my favourite.

parkin (makes 1 large cake)

175g unsalted butter

250g light muscovado sugar

225g black treacle

225g plain flour

2 teaspoons of ground ginger

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

½ a teaspoon ground cloves

1 tablespoon of baking powder

225g oatmeal or fine porridge oats (i used fine oats)

4-6 balls of stem ginger in syrup, chopped

2 large eggs

400ml milk

heat the oven to 180c and line a large tin (mine was a 23cm square time and it was just big enough!)with baking paper.

put the butter, sugar and treacle in a pan and heat gently, stirring often, until butter has melted. remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.

sift the flour, spices and baking powder into a bowl, add the oats and stem ginger then mix well.

lightly beat the eggs and milk together and add this along with the treacle mix to the flour. stir until evenly mixed and pour into the tin – you will have a very liquid batter, don’t worry!

bake for 1-1 ¼ hours until a skewer comes out clean (mine was ready after an hour). leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. the cake will improve in texture and flavour with age, over the course of a week or so.