Vegan Parkin for Lockdown Hallowe'en and Bonfire Night.

Me and the wife and t'family of three

Went to Royton-by-the-sea

We watched clog dancers and listened to t'band

Then we went on Royton sands.

We were eating parkin,

We were eating parkin.

We were eatin' parkin....

That's why we were so brown. 

Parkin might be associated with the Leeds area of Yorkshire but it's also as Lancashire as Lancashire cheese and cow's heel. 

The ditty 'Royton Sands' celebrates the glorious Lancashire Riviera near Oldham and the source of the River Irk. Actually, as a song, it's probably more of a dirge than a ditty as there are many, many verses, but I'll save you from those on this occasion. 

The word parkin first appears in seventeenth-century literature in a ballad, The song of Arthur O'Bradley about a wedding in Robin Hood's day. 

When Arthur, to make their hearts merry

Brought ales and parkin and perry.

By 1728 Anne Whittaker is recorded as being before the Yorkshire Quarter Sessions charged with stealing oatmeal to make parkin. 

Tim Bobbin (1708 - 1786), aka John Collier, from Urmston, Manchester was a Lancashire weaver and caricaturist who makes reference to tharf cake, the ingredients being similar to parkin. Tharf cake dates back to the Bible of John Wycliffe, who in 1389, calls unleavened bread tharf loove. (Mark 14: 1).

So, in  year when Bonfire Night and Hallowe'en are cancelled, it's time, at least, to make parkin to keep out the autumn chills.


Dry ingredients

8 oz self raising flour

8 oz porridge oats

1 teaspoon ground ginger

One quarter teaspoon salt

'Wet' ingredients

4 oz muscovado sugar

4 oz of margarine

8 oz black treacle

A quarter pint of milk (5 fl oz) 

1. Put the 'wet' ingredients into a pan and slowly melt them together over a low heat

2. Sieve the 'dry' ingredients into a mixing bowl

The 'wand' in the picture is a Dutch whisk. They're fabulous, inexpensive and a worthy weapon in your armoury.

3. When the 'wet ingredients' are fully melted, mix the dry and the wet together thoroughly.

4. Pour the contents into a baking tray or dish. I'm using a silicone tray which is 19 cm x 20 cm but if you want to use a shallower tray, that would be fine. You can always serve parkin up in slabs, chunks or slices. By the way, those really are technical terms!

5. Place in a preheated oven at 165 degree C or 325 degrees F for about one to one and a quarter hours. 

6. Test that it is cooked with a needle or cake tester. 

7. Take it from the oven and allow to cool for a few moments before transferring to a cooling rack. 

It can be eaten when cool, with or without butter.  But, if you want it to develop 'stickiness' then wrap in greaseproof paper and then aluminium foil and pop it into the freezer. It gets better with age! 

Happy baking...



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