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This is a really yummy cake which I have made many times, by James Martin (James Martin - Sweet).
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 1 hr 5 min
oil, for greasing
- 225g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 115g caster sugar
- 60g Butter
- 115g golden syrup
- 225ml Milk
Here's how to make it:
1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas 2.
2. Grease a 25 x 18cm cake tin and line with greased greaseproof paper.
3. Sift the flour, ginger and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Stir in the egg and then the caster sugar, mixing well.
4. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and the golden syrup, stirring to mix. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk.
5. Gradually stir the milk mixture into the flour and egg mixture. Stir until smooth, then pour into the prepared tin.
6. Bake for about 1 hour or until the mixture starts to shrink away from the sides of the tin.
7. Remove from the oven and turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
8. Cut into squares and serve, preferably after about 3 to 4 days (kept in an air tight container otherwise it will be a bit stale!) when the parkin will have become nice and sticky.
I adore Parkin Cake but it's so hard to find here in the South East. When I lived in York I remember a little bakery that sold Parkin Cake by either the slice (lump?), whole cake or would make up a certain sized cake if ordered a day or two in advance. They also used to make Parkin Cake of different strengths and I enjoyed a low fat version that the lady used to make for our local slimming class.
A few years ago I decided to try making my own low fat version because the basis of Parkin Cake is very simple and it did not seem as though it would be too hard to adapt to my healthier diet.
Here is the finished recipe and I make at least one Parkin Cake a week, everyone I have given it to enjoys it and no-one has realised yet that it's not just LOW fat but NO fat!
NO FAT PARKIN CAKE
WHAT YOU NEED
3 Tablespoons of light brown sugar
3 Tablespoons of treacle
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
10 dates, stones removed and chopped small
1 Tablespoon of honey
3 Tablespoons of sultanas
6 Heaped Tablespoons of self raising flour
1/2 Tablespoon of cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg - any sweet spices will do but you want 1/2 a tablespoon in TOTAL so bear this in mind when you are mixing your spices. Remember to go easy on the ground ginger as you are already using fresh. An Asian shop by me sells mixed sweet spice, a 1/2 tablespoon of this works very well.
1 teacup full of skimmed milk
2 Tablespoons of light brown sugar
1/2 a teacup of oats
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
Pre heat the oven to Gas Mark 4.
Place 3 tablespoons of light brown sugar into a large mixing bowl and grate your fresh ginger onto it. Add the treacle and mix very well.
Add the dates, sultanas, honey, self raising flour and the sweet spices that you mixed earlier. Mix well again.
Add the 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar and oats. Mix well.
Add half of the skimmed milk and give it another good mix. Add the rest of the milk and mix well yet again.
Let this mixture stand while you grease a cake tin. Even better if you have a non stick cake tin and this means you do not even have to use this little bit of fat to prepare the cake! Pour your Parkin Cake mixture into the tin and bake for 30 - 40 minutes. Check the cake after 30 minutes and every 2 or 3 minutes after that as you do not want the cake to darken too much in the oven.
Leave it to cool on a wire rack before slicing and enjoying!
My one regret in moving South many years ago is that you just can't find a good Parkin cake in the shops down here - in fact these days you can't even find a bad one!
What is it?
Parkin cake is a traditional Northern cake which was one of the seasonal foods eaten around bonfire night - like toffee apples and treacle toffee it brings back memories of my childhood. Often called Yorkshire Parkin it is widely available throughout the North but not often sold (or even known about) further South. Although I was born in Lancashire my mother was very adept at making a good Parkin and as a child I loved to help her when she made it.
Like many of the old historical recipes the idea seems to have been to fill up hungry stomachs and warm you through. The fact that this cake is packed with oatmeal means that it is good for you as well as tasty as it is said that oats help to reduce your cholesterol - mind you the eggs and milk might not help in that respect! The ginger aids digestion as well as being warming.
What are the ingredients?
There are dozens of recipes around for this cake and most of them vary a little but the key components are as follows:
Self raising Flour - 4oz
Oatmeal - 6oz
Treacle (and/or Syrup) - 8oz - my mum always went for a 50/50 split of treacle and syrup so that is how I make it.
Brown sugar - 4oz
Butter - 4oz
Milk - 1/4 pint
Eggs - 2
Ginger - 2 teaspoons
Basically you mix together the dry ingredients, heat the milk, butter and treacle and blend them together and then pour on to the dry ingredients, mix it all together and pour into a baking tin and bake until well risen. I suggest an oven temperature of 150C/300F/Gas 2 for about an hour. It isn't hard to make but the syrup and treacle are a very sticky and tricky to measure out for that reason.
What does it taste like?
Well that is difficult to describe but I will try. It is slightly similar to a combination of a Jamaican Ginger cake and a Golden Syrup cake but the oatmeal gives it a heavier texture. Having grown up in a household where we ate this regularly it is one of my favourite cakes, made all the more appealing because it is hard to find in the dhops these days. It tastes very treacly and with a ginger kick - certainly much tastier than a lot of the bland confections around these days but probably something of an acquired taste.
Where does it orginate?
Not sure - it was very popular in the North and like a lot of foods around during my childhood it was considered to be 'very good for you' - certainly looking at the components one can see what they were hoping to achieve. Ginger is considered very warming and a good digestive aid, the oatmeal was filling and nourishing so you would feel well satisfied after eating it. Milk, eggs and butter were seen as good foods for a growing child and treacle was once perceived as a medicinal compound in wide use as an antidote to poisons! Not sure about the last one but I guess my Mum thought she was being very caring by baking us a Parkin cake once a week!
Where can you buy it?
In the North in November you should be able to find it in many of the traditional cake shops, in the South it is more difficult. It used to be that Asda and Morrisons, both of which had their roots in the North, stocked it in the run up to Bonfire night. More recently when they have stocked it I have been disappointed with the quality and taste - so my advice would be to have a go at baking it and see what you think! In my view it is good wholesome traditional British fare and I would hate to see it disappear completely.
Adapted from review published by laramax on Ciao (Nov 2006)