My research concludes that in Yorkshire, it is traditional to eat ‘Parkin’ on bonfire night. However, as a Lancashire lass, I remember my parkin cake being an integral part of our Guy Fawkes night feasting, together with treacle toffee and baked sausages.
My mum would always make a big batch of Parkin from her baking bible of the day. She favoured the Yorkshire version with treacle as opposed to the Lancashire Parkin made with golden syrup. As soon as I was old enough, and more importantly, tall enough, to reach the mixing bowl, I would help her make it using the recipe from her baking bible, the Be-ro book.
The custom of eating Parkin on 5th November dates back as far as the mid 19th century. Its roots are firmly planted in the gingerbread family and gets it’s richness and darkness from made black treacle and it’s lovely texture from oatmeal. The name may still be a puzzle, but the concept of spicing up bakes for special feast days is very ancient idea. Oatmeal was the daily grain in the north and ginger the popular spice– hence an early form of oatmeal gingerbread was probably the traditional feast day treat in the north for many centuries.
Parkin is delicious eaten immediately but gets stickier if you wrap and store it for several days. It also makes the perfect base for an autumnal trifle such as this one by James Martin