Okay.. I didn’t actually watch the UK Summer Olympics. I was pretty much Twittered into a stupor by the time the first event concluded. (and… I’m not really a “hit the ball and drag Harry” kind of guy…) But I was stoked about it being there. Because, I expected the airwaves to be inundated with Cuisine of Britain programming. I didn’t see any.. well, I take that back. There was one program produced back in 2000 aimed at convincing the world that the UK wasn’t all Bangers and Mash. Which is kinda sad, because I particularly like bangers… and mash.
That really left me with no other option than to go about looking for my own little culinary excursion. I found my first stop with Fiona Maclean
(don’t you just love her name!
) over at London Unattached.
Fiona made Parkin!
Now, I’ve had parkin a couple of times before (read that as a lot) as my across the street neighbor in Savannah was always making it and inviting me over for tea. Actually, I worked with her estranged husband and she was trying to get the goods on him for the divorce… I got the cake, and kept mum on his going- ons at the hotel. So I was rightly excited when seeing that cake – floods of memories of my time in that city, friends long gone and all, and not to mention… the cake… ohh… the cake.
Here’s the deal with parkin. It’s an acquired taste. Think of it as…
the oatmeal cookie part of those vending machine sandwich cookie things… kinda…
coarse, oatmeal-y gingerbread…. mmm, no…
something just short of oaty fudge… no…
the wettest, stickiest granola bar you’ve ever eaten… pretty damn close…
And, It isn’t something you eat right away… not even after it cools completely down. No.. parkin has to mature… mellow…. age….. stic-ki-fy for a couple of weeks before it’s even close to being good. And that, my dear friends, is what makes it so damned good.
Now, like Fiona, I used Delia Smith’s recipe
as a jumping off place – because I wanted to get close to what Regina’s Savannah cake was. And , of course, I’ve made alterations…
- Butter is out, so I’ve used a 3 : 1 ratio of Smart Balance and Shortening instead of butter
- I don’t think in the 1700’s they used rolled oats – and neither did Regina – and I didn’t like the texture of whirring the rolled oats up in the spice grinder. So, I’ve used steel cut oats instead. In all actuality, it’s probably closer to what they first used.
- I’m not a fan of molasses (can’t stand that sulfuric funk); and we don’t have treacle here in the States. So, I’ve substituted golden, Southern, Sweet Heaven (Sorghum Syrup) for the molasses. I think the finer flavored syrup lets you taste more of that oaty and ginger goodness.
- Traditionally it’s made in a square pan. But, for ease of removal from the pan, I’ve substituted a 10″ round spring-form pan – just so everything didn’t stick to the point of permanence when all was said and done.
I guess it’s more of a Southern Parkin… or
South Parkin (heh)
I’ve used weights instead of measures for a reason. Depending on what particular type of oats you’re using, it’s going to vary… and syrup is just too damned hard to scrape out of a measuring cup – so we’re weighing everything
Makes 1 10″ Parkin Cake
8 Ounces Steel cut Oats
4 Ounces Self Rising Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
7 Ounces Golden Syrup
2 Ounces Sorghum Syrup
4 Ounces Margarine / Shortening 3:1 Ratio
4 Ounces Brown Sugar
2 Teaspoons Ground Ginger
1 Large Egg – Beaten
1 Tablespoon Milk
10″ Spring form Pan with Liner sheet- Lightly Greased
Medium sauce Pan
- Pre-heat the oven 275
- Set your tare weight and weigh the sauce pan on the scales,reset to 0 and weigh the golden syrup and sorghum into it.
- Add the margarine and the sugar to the saucepan heat just until the margarine has melted down
- Set the mixing bowl on the scales and set another tare weight
- Measure the oatmeal, flour, salt and ginger into your mixing bowl
- Gradually add in the warmed syrup mixture till the mixture is thoroughly blended.
- Add the beaten egg and the milk.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared spring form pan and bake at 275 for 2 hours.
- Cool in the pan for 30 minutes before unmolding.
- Leaving the liner sheet under the cake, unmold and allow to cool completely
- Place the parkin in a shallow pie storage box with lid
- Seal and leave it alone for a minimum of 1 week… and better if it sits for 2 weeks before enjoying
Freshly baked, the parkin will look and taste extremely dry and you’ll just think you did something wrong. The time it spends in the closed container allows the moisture and sugars to soften the cake and create a thoroughly syrupy soaked cake effect.
Traditionally, parkins are eaten plain (my absolute fave) or served with a fruit compote – or better yet, serve with a selection of blue cheeses and sliced pears for a stellar cheese course.