Yorkshire Parkin

So Day Two of the Tour sees us heading from York to Sheffield.  Now, I know the obvious  recipe that springs to mind is Yorkshire Pudding, but I don’t like to be too predictable!

Parkin is the English equivalent of the Cassoulet or the Pavlova in terms of a hotly contested point of origin.  In true War of the Roses style, the Parkin (or Perkin as originally known) is arguably attributed to either Yorkshire or Lancashire – depending on who you ask!

Regardless of its origins, Parkin is a treat enjoyed widely across the north of England and Scotland and Yorkshire is no exception. Recipes vary slightly from location to location and Yorkshire Parkin is a heavily spiced cake made primarily from black treacle and oatmeal.  The Parkin is traditionally eaten on Guy Fawkes Night (5th November) to celebrate the failed attempt of Yorkshireman Guy Fawkes to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605.

This is a sweet, sticky and unctuous cake, which although can be eaten immediately, is best left tightly wrapped for 3 days to a week before eating.  This  allows the flavours to further develop and the cake to soften. I am going to show you mine tonight, fresh out the oven.  If you are keen, check back in a few days to see the improvement in texture from the recommended storage.  Once ‘aged’ your Parkin can be eaten as is, or served warm with custard.  Mmmm delicious!


  • 220g soft butter
  • 110g soft, dark brown sugar
  • 55g black treacle
  • 200g golden syrup
  • 120g medium oatmeal (see note)
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp milk

Note: There appears to be some argument about exactly what constitutes ‘medium oatmeal’.  I can’t offer any real clarification save to say that in mainstream Australian supermarkets we appear to have only two choices: rolled oats or instant porridge oats.  Given that Elaine Lemm (Yorkshire native and author of the above recipe found at  http://www.britishfood.com) recommends that you avoid coarse oatmeal, I have opted to give the instant porridge oats a try.  However, if you know what medium oatmeal is and you can source it, by all means use it as the Elaine instructs!

How to do it

Mmmm melty goodness!
Mmmm melty goodness!

Preheat your oven to 140 degrees celsius.  In a heavy bottomed saucepan over a low heat melt together the butter, sugar, treacle and golden syrup.  Take care not to let this boil, you just want to gently melt the ingredients  and stir them together.



Instant porridge oats with similar texture to 'medium oatmeal'
Instant porridge oats with similar texture to ‘medium oatmeal’

While this is happening, add your oatmeal, flour, baking powder and spices to a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.  Grease an 8 inch square cake tin and line with baking paper.




Ready to stir...
Ready to stir…

When your butter mixture is melted, make a well in the centre of your dry ingredients and pour in the melted butter mixture.  Stir until just combined, and then add the eggs and milk a little at a time, mixing between each addition.



Ready for the oven...
Ready for the oven…

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the lower-middle section of your oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until the cake springs back to a light touch. Don’t be alarmed (like me) if your Parkin sinks slightly in the centre.  A quick reference check with the bastion of British cookery Delia confirms that it can be normal with Parkins (and even happens in Yorkshire on occasion!).


Parkin - a sneak peak just out the oven!
Parkin – a sneak peak just out the oven!

Remove the Parkin from the oven and leave it to cool in the tin.  Once cool, remove from the tin and wrap tightly in clingwrap or store in an airtight container for anything from 3 days to 1 week before eating.


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