WanderSups: Parkin to make Bonfire Night banging
The best thing about Bonfire Night? No, not fireworks. It's the excuse to inhale a slab of sticky, spicy homemade parkin, writes Hannah Gregory
There are few things that remind me more of the beginning of November and Bonfire Night than the smell of mixed spices: ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Sticky patches on the work surface where a golden syrupy spoon rested, and the sight of dark, glossy black treacle pouring slowly into a puddle.
Bonfire Night was a huge occasion throughout my childhood. We lived on a farm and the piles of wood, papers, feed bags, ends of bailing twine and just about anything else that had been acquired throughout the year - including at times the odd rat carcass - would be topped with a very questionable Guy Fawkes and set alight. The whole village was invited along with any of their rubbish that needed burning and come 6pm, neighbours would rock up with wheelbarrows full of old Argos catalogues and Yellow Pages.
Our bonfire parties were things of legend. Not only did we provide a free waste disposal service for anyone within a 10 mile radius but my mother, ever the host, insisted on feeding EVERYONE.
Trays of jacket potatoes were rubbed in oil and then rolled in flaky salt before spending the best part of the day in the AGA - NOTHING beats an AGA baked potato - they would then be individually wrapped in tin foil and dropped into buckets ready to be collected by our guests. My grandmother and a few of her mates were always around for this particular holiday which meant
lots of sets of dentures which weren’t quite up to the task of the gnarly, crispy potato skins. I would hover around like some kind of bin chicken waiting for the discarded skins, collect them up and have myself my favourite meal of all time.
Accompanying the buckets of potatoes were vats of chilli con carne that had been bubbling away for hours - in my mind it was always served in huge black cast iron cauldrons but I am wondering if that is more to do with the narrative I have put on my mother, rather than a factual recollection.
But the piece de la resistance, the protagonist of this column - glorious, rich Parkin. A northern dish, introduced to me by my mother - a northern lass through and through although her elocution lessons would tell you otherwise. Whilst I have been writing this column I have of course had to make a good three trays of the stuff to ensure it is absolutely perfect. As I have been handing it out to friends/neighbours/the postman, it has become apparent that this delicacy has not made it south of the Pennines.
In short, it is a spiced ginger cake made with oats and treacle. I have upgraded our family version with a hit of stem ginger. Traditionally you would eat it on its own but it also makes a great dessert served warm with plenty of cream.
When I was about twelve years old my mother tasked me with the making of the parkin. A HUGE responsibility, I remember taking my job so seriously. Painstakingly measuring out every single ingredient - I am now more of a ‘chuck it in’ sort of cook. Shutting anyone who wasn’t classed as essential out of the kitchen so I could really concentrate on my craft and spending hours on this winter cake. I have no idea what I was doing as since revisiting this recipe I have discovered it actually takes about ten minutes and is possibly the easiest bake going.
What you need :
● 4 pieces of stem ginger and 4 tablespoons of the syrup it comes in
● 100g butter
● 1 egg
● 4 tbsp full fat milk
● 175g golden syrup
● 50g treacle
● 100g light brown sugar
● 80g medium ground oatmeal
● 100g self raising flour
● 1 tsp ground ginger
● ½ tsp mixed spice
● ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
● Few shavings of fresh nutmeg
● Thick jersey cream to serve
How you do it:
● Preheat your oven to 150 and grease a square cake tin / brownie dish - I use a 20cm job
● In a large, heavy bottom saucepan melt the syrup, treacle, butter and sugar and then remove from the heat.
● Whilst that is slowly melting measure out all your dry ingredients into a bowl. Combine with the syrup mixture.
● Stir in the milk and egg to the mix.
● Finely chop your stem ginger and add to the mix along with 2 tbsp of the ginger syrup.
● Pour into the cake tin and bake for 1 hour.
● Allow to cool and then if eating as a cake wrap in tin foil. It gets better as it sits - believe me.
● Alternatively, cut into squares and serve with thick jersey cream and the remaining ginger syrup poured over for a truly decadent winter dessert.
Hannah reached the quarter finals of BBC MasterChef last year. She hosts WanderSups supper clubs serving meals created with love, inspired by journeys around the world, dished up on home turf. Her ethos is simple - have fun, enjoy it, make it an occasion. To find out more follow @WanderSups or visit wandersups.com
Read moreFood and Drink
More by this authorHannah Gregory