Parkin is a glorious bake which appears to be particular to the North of the country, where it is a Bonfire Night staple. I first encountered it nearly thirteen years ago, at The Star Inn at Harome. The chef there, Andrew Pern, is a tremendous champion of all things Yorkshire and he served slabs of warm parkin as a dessert, with spicy poached rhubarb and rhubarb ripple ice cream. A very beautiful thing.
But, as I said, for many Northerners, parkin is chiefly associated with Bonfire Night and I suppose the inherently comforting sticky, dense spiciness is ideally suited for wintry nights. The addition of oats give it a slightly rougher, more interesting texture than gingerbread, the dark treacle lends a liquorice depth to the sweetness. It's well worth making it a couple of weeks before you intend to eat it as, like Christmas cake, it will sit quietly, wrapped in foil, and do nothing but improve.
Now. I've baked Andrew Pern's recipe several times but, until this year had not made it in my current oven. My current oven is a BEAST. And I foolishly ignored my instincts and adhered to the cooking time thus ending up with a sadly over baked parkin which tasted familiar but had a texture somewhere between flapjack, cake and Hobnob. I have suggested an hour in my recipe below, but just keep an eye on it. It is ready when it is lightly springy to the touch and the top is gaining a tawny, caramelised look.
175g golden syrup
50g black treacle
100g soft brown sugar
100g self raising flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp mixed spice
75g rolled oats
Splash of milk
Grease and line a 20cm square tin and preheat your oven to 140.
Place the syrup, treacle, butter and sugar in a saucepan and set over a very low heat. The aim is to melt these together into one golden liquid. Keep the heat low to prevent it from boiling and avoid stirring - pick up the pan and give it a good swirl every so often to ensure it melts evenly.
Meanwhile, sieve together the flour, salt and spices into a large bowl, then stir through the oats.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and combine. Stir through the egg and a little milk - just enough to ensure that the batter has a semi-pouring consistency.
Put the mixture in the prepared tin and bake - mine took 45 minutes and Andrew Perm says 90. If you have a relatively normal oven, I'd start checking after an hour.