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Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cumbria, Durham, Northumberland, Derbyshire, Shropshire

(or Parkin-Cake, Treacle-Parkin)

Heavy, moist, cake made with oatmeal, treacle and ginger. Served as a dessert cake, or as a pudding with custard. Very widely, and most traditionally, eaten on Bonfire Night, but available all year.

Parkin, cut
Image: "Spider.Dog"

The name 'parkin' is known at least since reports of the court case of Rex v Jagger at the Yorkshire Assizes of 1797 where a husband attempted to poison his wife with 'a cake of parkin laced with arsenic'. It is more pleasantly known from the Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth of around 1800 and from Carr's 1828 The Dialect of Craven, in the West-Riding of the County of York where it is described as; "Parkin, a cake made of treacle and oat meal, commonly called a treacle-parkin."

As with many commonplace, everyday, dishes, original receipts are rare. The earliest we can find is from 1859..

Original Receipt from 'The English Cookery Book' Edited by JH Walsh, 1859 (Walsh 1859)

Mix three pounds of oatmeal or flour, one pound and a half of treacle, half a pound of butter, half a pound of moist sugar, two ounces of grated ginger, together into a paste and roll it out about an inch thick. Cut it into small cakes any shape you like and bake them. An ounce of carraway seeds may be added if approved.

Original Receipt from 'Saleable Shop Goods for Counter-Tray and Window:' by Frederick T Vine (Vine 1907)

No. 246.- Yorkshire Parkins (1).
7 lbs. flour. 3 1/2 lbs. coarse oatmeal.
2 lbs. butter. 2 1/2 lbs. raw sugar.
6 lbs. treacle. 4 ozs. mixed spice.
4 ozs. ground ginger. 3 ozs. carbonate of soda.
Mode, - Sieve the soda with the flour, mix in the oatmeal, and rub in the fat. Make a bay; turn in the sugar, add the spice, ginger, and treacle, and make into dough. Let it lie for a short time; then give it a good knead over, then take a portion and roll out in a sheet with a rolling-pin, and cut out with a 3-in. plain round cutter. Splash a clean greased tin slightly with water and plate them on it, not too close together; wash over with milk and place a split almond in the centre, and bake in a moderate oven. When done and cold, pile on to a wire or tray, and sell at 1d. each.

No. 247,- Yorkshire Parkins (2).
14 lbs. fine oatmeal. 4 lbs. treacle.
1 lb. sugar. 1 lb. butter.
1 oz. ground ginger. 2 ozs. baking-powder (No. 2).
Mode, - Same as directed in the previous recipe.

No. 248.- Yorkshire Parkins (3).
2 lbs. medium oatmeal. 1/2 lb. flour.
1 lb. butter. 1 lb. treacle.
1/2 lb. sugar. 2 ozs. mixed peel.
1 oz. ground ginger. 1/2 oz. baking-powder (No. 2).
1 oz. allspice.
Mode - Sieve the baking-powder with the flour and mix it with the oatmeal on the board; make a bay; warm the butter and treacle. Turn the sugar, butter, and treacle into the bay; add the spice and ginger, and make into dough, then roll out and proceed as directed in No 246, and sell at same price.

No. 249.-Yorkshire Parkins (4).
1 lbs. flour. 11/2 lbs. treacle.
1/2 lb. butter. 14 ozs. oatmeal.
10 oz sugar. 1 oz. spice and ground ginger.
v oz. baking-powder (No, 2).
Mode, - Proceed exactly as directed in No. 246, and work off in the same way.

No. 250.-Thick Parkin.
7 lbs. medium oatmeal. 3 1/2 lbs. flour.
7 lbs. treacle. 1/2 lb. raw sugar.
1/2 lb. butter. 2 ozs. baking-powder (No. 2).
3 ozs. ground ginger.
Mode, - Same as directed for the Yorkshire Parkins, No. 246, but instead of cutting out with a cutter, lay it over a baking plate about 1-in. thick, put an upset along the foot of the tin, and very carefully bake in a moderate oven. Cut out and sell at 8d. per pound. Really, after all, thick parkin is nothing more than gingerbread made partially with oatmeal; and I would suggest that the addition of peel, cherries, fruit, almonds, &c., would make a very pleasing variety.

Harcake or Soul-Mass Cake
Raisin Parkin
Preston Parkin
Westmorland Parkin
Yorkshire Parkin
Lancashire Parkin
Derbyshire Parkins
Middlesex Gingerbread

Image: http://www.botham.co.uk

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