Parkin is like gingerbread - except it's much more than gingerbread. In Lancashire, parkin is a ritual. When it's baked it comes out a bit like any ginger cake, although perhaps a bit denser and more richly spiced. But when it's left for a day, or two days, or more, it gets very moist and very sticky - in a very good way. The ritual is in the waiting - or at least it was for me when I was little. While I don't think my mother could ever hold me back long enough to not try some of the freshly baked parkin, I do remember it getting squidgier and more syrupy - as if by magic - as the days went by.
This recipe is an adaptation of my mother's. Like hers, it omits the oats or oatmeal traditionally found in parkin (some may say that makes it plain old gingerbread, but we always called it parkin anyway). It's packed with golden syrup, sugar, and treacle, and together these give it its characteristic stickiness. With some leaveners and aquafaba to replace the usual egg, this parkin has a dense but still spongey texture - which is close to how I remember it.
Parkin was traditionally eaten on and around Bonfire Night, and, although it seems like there's a long history of eating it at other times too, I must say its rich warmth is especially welcome in winter months. Whenever you make it, try and keep your mitts off it at least for a day - then enjoy with abandon.
Parkin (AKA Sticky Ginger Cake)
Makes: one loaf
Preparation time: 80 minutes
100g vegan butter, plus extra for greasing
75g muscovado sugar
150ml golden syrup
150ml black treacle
5 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp baking soda
2.5 tsp baking powder
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
A pinch of ground sea salt
300ml non-sweet soy or almond milk
1./ Grease and line your cake tin and preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
2./ Add the vegan butter, sugar, syrup and treacle to a saucepan. Heat gently over a low to medium heat until the butter has melted. Take off the heat and stir in the spices; mix well.
3./ Sift the baking soda, baking powder, and flour into a large mixing bowl, and make a well in the centre with a spoon.
4./ Add the vinegar and soy or almond milk to a jug. Mix up a little then set aside.
5./ Tip the warm butter/sugar mixture into the flour mixture, stirring constantly as you do, till fully incorporated.
6./ Beat the milk mixture into the batter, a bit at a time. Mix till smooth, but take care not to over-mix.
7./ Pour the finished batter into the tin and bake for 30 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Resist the temptation to open the door for as long as possible!
8./ Remove the cake from the oven. Tap the tin sharply on a work surface or table, then leave to cool and mature.
Until next time...