There’s a chill in the air, anything & everything woollen have been dug out of the deepest realms of the wardrobe & the countdown to that festive season truly begins (every inch of me is glowing with excitement). Week upon week my garden is slowly beginning to resemble a winter wonderland as the frost makes its return (why don’t cars just de-ice themselves these days?! ).
Life has been a bit busy of late, that’s not to say that my beloved kitchen has been left devoid of baked goods, what with work, travelling to explore a little bit of Germany (Berlin) & beginning my Christmas preparations (there are currently six Christmas cakes & two puddings maturing all around the house), I’ve found myself without the time to actually commit recipes to the blogosphere. Worry not, I have a hard drive which is essentially loaded with food porn & my trusty purple recipe book is brimming with scraps of splattered paper.
I’ll admit that I gave into the chill & fully embraced all things spiced a long time ago as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg & I are all reunited & become the best of friends over the coming months. Gingerbread, buns, porridge, fruit cakes, biscuits, casseroles & crumbles.. hello comfort food!
One of my all time favourite uses of my three best friends is in a big, gloopy, steaming bowl of porridge, spiced to the max & drizzled in honey (fruit is optional if you’re pretending to be healthier). It’s not just for breakfast either, porridge makes for the most fantastic comforting tea on a cold winters night, just like beans on toast it’s the meal that transcends meal conformity.
But have you ever tried baking with oats? As a baker (& avid eater), naturally I like to experiment & attempt to translate some of my favourite flavours & comforts into my baking. Luckily for me, our Northern friends have a cake that does all of the hard work & epitomised spicy comfort into one, dense, sticky, spicy cake… parkin.
Unlike most cakes (with the exception of fruit), Parkin is best left to its own devices before it’s ready to eat, allowing it time fo mature where the flavour & texture will only improve as it moistens & becomes sticky. With a little kick of ginger to combat the chill in the air, parkin is traditionally eaten on Guy Fawkes night (5th November). The tradition is believed to have stemmed from Celtic festivals such as Samain (or modern day Halloween) which were celebrated with a fire & ritual cakes.
Although most of us probably don’t need another excuse to make or eat cake, its good to know just how many holidays, celebrations & days there was that allow us to justify it. This November 5th, why not try you hand a parkin, its a simple, one pan recipe (yey for less washing up!) & it’ll help ease you back into spiced everything come winter.
(makes one 22cm square – around 16 pieces)
- 200g golden syrup
- 65g black treacle
- 125g butter
- 100g dark soft brown sugar
- 160g oatmeal
- 150g self-raising flour
- 2 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 2 eggs
- 50ml milk
- Grease & line a 20cm square cake tin with baking parchment
- In a large saucepan, melt together the golden syrup, treacle, butter & sugar until alll of the sugar has dissolved
- Sift the flour, oatmeal & spices into the saucepan & mix
- Add the eggs & milk to the mixture & beat until well mixed & smooth
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin & bake at 150°C for 1 hour
- Allow the cake to cool fully in its tin before removing & cutting into squares (I’d recommend leaving it uncut in a cake tin for a few days to mature before slicing)