This parkin recipe is my Grandma's and we used to bake it every year at the beginning of November to eat at Bonfire Night. That wasn't the only time we ate it, of course, but it was definitely an Autumn cake in our family, although I have heard it was traditionally baked at Whitsuntide.
It's quite different to anything else that I've tasted here in Canada - and no-one here found it familiar when they tried it. Parkin is a truly authentic old-fashioned English oatmeal and treacle cake.
Researching parkin was fascinating! I found no other recipe that compared to Grandma's. She put in four times the amount of oatmeal than most other recipes. And more treacle, more butter, more milk. No eggs. And grandma's recipe made a very runny batter.
I've tried the other recipes. My Grandma's is best. It's everything that parkin should be. The flavour of the black treacle (molasses) comes through the way it should. It's sticky and delicious. You can taste the oatmeal.
In comparison, I found the other recipes too floury, quite dry and too gingery. The flavour of my parkin is more subtle.
Here's an image of her original recipe. :-) I used butter rather than margarine since I can't bear the stuff. And I noticed that when we put cinnamon along with ginger, the flavour deepens and is warmer somehow. Also, I am more precise in the milk measurement. :-) Lastly, I reduced the baking powder slightly since it was sagging in the middle.
I read somewhere that people sometimes call Parkin Perkin. I'm fairly sure this is simply because it was said with a Lancashire accent. :-) Parkin is a Yorkshire recipe. Although I have to admit that my grandma came from Cheshire.... And my grandad was from Lancashire. On my Mum's side anyway.
There is no doubt about it, this cake tastes much, much better if you leave it for 2-3 days before eating. We used to make parkin in a large quantity and we'd never wait to eat it! So it was nice at the beginning - but the last pieces that we ate a few days later were simply marvellous - sticky and flavourful.
If you want to bake a large quantity, double this recipe and use an 8" square deep cake pan. I halved it and made it in a bread tin.
Parkin tastes best, I think, with black tea. It's lovely with Earl Grey which I think is delicious with anything gingery. And of course it's wonderful with Yorkshire Tea.and Taylor's Yorkshire Gold tea.