Monday, 12 March 2012

Traditional Parkin

Recipe Number One Hundred & Sixty Nine:  Page 81.

I really should have made this Parkin way back in November. I hadn't realised until too late that it's traditionally eaten on Bonfire night. However, I think that Parkin is the sort of cake best enjoyed on a cold winter’s day and we aren't out of winter just yet! It was time for me to get a wriggle on!

I thought it funny that, on the day I chose to make Parkin, the sun was streaming in through the windows. It had also warmed up considerably and I was able to go without my thick winter socks and fluffy slippers! Mary says that Parkin is best eaten a week after making, so I would have to resist temptation and store it away. Although this saddened my greedy nature, it also gave me hope. There was still a chance that I would get to eat Parkin whilst huddled against the radiator!!! British weather is notorious for its changeability. In a week’s time it could well be sub zero temperatures – I don't think I'll be packing away my slippers just yet!

With Isaac in bed for his nap and Neil off on a trip to our local shop, I set about starting the Parkin. After greasing then lining a square tin, I dug out our smallest saucepan. I set the saucepan on the scales and weighed in some dark muscovado sugar. I very rarely use this sugar, so I'd had to buy a packet especially. I was struck not only by its dark colour but also by the strong treacly smell. Treacle happened to be the next ingredient and I needed a lot of it. I opened my brand new shiny tin and attempted to measure it into the saucepan without making a mess. Of course I was unsuccessful. A thick sticky trail made its way down the side of the tin and a considerable amount stuck to my fingers! By the time I'd measured it all out Neil had returned from the shop!! Lastly I placed a good amount of butter into the pan then set it over a low heat. Once the butter and sugar had melted I left it to cool.

Meanwhile I sifted some plain flour and the spices into a large mixing bowl. My goodness this cake was going to be both dark and very spicy! There was ginger, cinnamon AND nutmeg! It was now time for all the porridge oats. As they joined the other ingredients I started to fantasize about flapjacks! It was probably for the best that only a few oats remained. My trousers are definitely getting tighter and flapjacks would not help the matter! In a measuring jug I poured in some milk then beat in an egg. I was to add a teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda and mix together. I half expected the mixture to froth up in some exciting fashion but nothing happened, most disappointing! I tipped the eggy milk into the bowl of dry ingredients and then poured in the by now cooled treacly mixture. It was easy to combine the rich spicy ingredients together. I spooned the dark mixture into the awaiting tin and then placed it into the warm oven. It would only take an hour to cook.

Neil and I took the opportunity to sit back and enjoy our lunch. I tried very hard not to talk about cakes but soon enough the conversation came round to what I'd be baking the following day and how many bakes I had left to make. I'm quite certain I saw Neil's eyes glaze over but he was sure to nod at all the appropriate moments!!

Neil breathed a sigh of relief when I trotted back into the kitchen an hour later. I extracted the Parkin from the oven and was pleased to see that it looked to be perfectly cooked through. It was a deep shade of brown and possessed a rather satisfying cracked surface. I left it to cool in the tin for ten minutes and then turned it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. The frustrating part came when I had to wrap it up in greaseproof paper to store for a week. It didn't seem right not to bake a cake and then immediately dive in! I couldn't resist pinching a bit off one of the corners. It was just as I imagined, dark and rich. The spices gave a kick to the throat as the Parkin slid down! The oats gave a lovely chewy rustic texture. I will be interested to see how the flavours have developed in a week’s time. I'll of course update the blog and let you know!
Ready to be wrapped up for a week!

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