Parkin Recipe

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. 

Black treacle is the same as fancy molasses. Golden syrup is a kind of cane syrup. You can buy Lyle's Black Treacle here on Amazon and also Lyle's Golden Syrup. You can also buy them in single bottles, but two is better value.

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 Recipe

225g (1 1/4 cups) medium oatmeal (Scottish oatmeal)
110g (3/4 cup) all-purpose (plain) flour
110g (generous 1/2 cup) brown sugar
110g (1/3 cup) black treacle (fancy molasses)
110g (1/3 cup) golden syrup
85g (1/2 cup) butter
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
175ml (3/4 cup) milk

Slices of old-fashioned Yorkshire parkin with lace tablecloth.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 275, gas mark 1.

  • Grease a 2lb loaf tin and line it with baking parchment. I just use a strip of parchment that sits up both sides and over the bottom. I don't try to line the ends. Also, I make sure that the parchment is just the height of the tin, otherwise it sometimes flips over onto the cake and spoils the look of the top. 

  • Weigh out the dry ingredients and put into a large bowl. Stir together.

  • Put the butter, treacle, syrup and milk into a saucepan and warm over a medium heat until the butter is just melted. You don't want to boil the milk - just heat it to melt the ingredients together properly.

  • Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk mixture. Mix the ingredients together with a spoon until fully incorporated. The mixture will be runny.

  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and place in the middle of the pre-heated oven.

  • Bake for 1 1/2 hours. I have read that you should wait until the top springs back. But in my experience this left the parkin quite dry. If the cake around the edges springs back a little, and the middle is at least set, that will do.

  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool fully on a wire rack.

  • Once it is cool, wrap the parkin in greaseproof paper and put it away in a tin with a lid for a couple of days to allow it to develop it's full stickiness. If you don't have a tin, wrap it in tin foil.

Serve with

slices of Yorkshire parkin - my grandma's recipe

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.

Try a hearty Yorkshire afternoon tea spread with this parkin recipe, Yorkshire curd tarts, hot buttered pikelets, ham sandwiches, wensleydale cheese sandwiches 

and Taylor's Yorkshire Gold tea.