Parky days are for Ginger Parkin. The only pleasurable glimmer on a dark horizon is to bake to keep warm. Here’s my impromptu cake fest today…
A post of few words tonight as I am keen to end the day and head for the duvet. How sudden our leap from an all too fleeting autumn straight into downpour after downpour winter, that hope of hopes this time round won’t last til March. I think the record for non-stop rain that I remember in my 20 years in Malta was around five Christmases ago when we had 28 hours nearly incessant thunderstorms. That was one soggy affair that Christmas. We were holed up for nearly a week with little let up, playing Monopoly, huddling around a gas heater. They say that this winter is to be a bad one, so baking cakes is order of the day.
Ginger Parkin Heritage
With such a mountain of sweet-toothed delicacies heading my way, should we get that predicted winter, I thought I’d start off by tweaking a hearty, traditional Ginger Parkin, whittling down its dark brown sugar content. Ginger Parkin is a Yorkshire (some say Lancashire) special that’s traditional for bonfire night on 5th November. I guess some might have it left over from then as it is all the better for keeping; the treacly, syrupy stickiness sets in nicely if it’s stored a few days before eating. It contains a treble whammy of golden syrup, black treacle and dark brown sugar. Turning to my Mediterranean store cupboard, I dug out carob syrup to replace the sugar in entirety but not lose the Parkin’s dark chestnut colour. In fact, this Parkin was all the better for it as carob has such a rich, almost smoky depth of flavour it replaced the need for black treacle too. It was given the after-school thumbs up by a boy who adores Sicilian cassata-style cakes. I’m sorry, cool ricotta gooey-ness just doesn’t do it for me as a winter cake. For those, I have to turn to my British roots, and more northerly counties than even I come from.
I made mini loaves in individual wrappers but this makes a good-sized single loaf if you prefer Parkin by the slice. This recipe is for ginger lovers; the more warm spices the better if you’re in need of a winter weather pick-me-up. A cuppa chai to go with it, and you’re ready to face the storms of winter and life.
All images © Liz Ayling 2013
- 200g unsalted butter
- 250g Golden Syrup
- 200g Carob Syrup (or use half dark brown sugar/half Black Treacle if you can’t find carob)
- 3cm piece of root ginger, peeled & grated finely
- 180g plain flour
- 3 heaped tsps baking powder
- 120g rolled oat flakes
- 3 rounded tsps ground ginger
- 1 rounded tsp mixed spice
- 1 rounded tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 tbsp milk
- Preheat oven to 140°C. If using a single cake tin, grease and line a tin around 20cm x 20cm square. Or use approx. 12 mini loaf wrappers; even deep muffin cases if you like.
- Place in a heavy-based saucepan the butter, carob syrup and grated fresh ginger and heat gently until the butter has melted. Stir swiftly once or twice to incorporate and remove from the heat. Don’t let the mix boil or burn.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and powdered spices into a large bowl and stir in the oat flakes.
- Pour in the melted butter & carob and stir the mixture thoroughly so the dry ingredients are incorporated well. It’s a bit like making a flap jack at this stage.
- Beat the eggs and milk together and stir into the cake mixture.
- Pour the cake mixture (it’s quite runny, don’t panic) into the prepared tin or cases (approx. 12 mini loaf cases)
- Bake for 1hr 15 – 30 mins (single cake will need all that time; but check mini loaves or muffins around the 1.10hr mark and turn tray around if necessary to prevent one side catching). Test the Parkin in the middle with a cocktail stick to check it’s not underdone. Once ready, remove and allow to cool on a wire rack.Turn cake out after 5 mins.
- Eat immediately warm if you like; it’s lovely served with vanilla ice cream and carob sauce trickled over. Store in an airtight tin for 2-3 days and it’ll be moister and stickier as the syrup and spice flavours infuse. Keeps well for a week or more in an air-tight tin.