As a kid I loved everything about bonfire night, I just found it all so magical.... The trip to China Town to buy the fireworks; Collecting wood for the fire for weeks before; Rushing home from school and waiting with giddy impatience for it to grow dark enough; Being wrapped up warm and allowed outside at night; Twirling sparklers around, spelling out my name in the light trail; The moment the fire was lit and watching the flames lick higher and higher until the whole thing was ablaze; The fire works...oh the fireworks! The rockets zooming into the sky, roman candles sending out fountains of flames and the catherine wheel (my favourite) dancing around in a halo of sparks; The colours, the noise, the feeling in the pit of your belly... Loved It.
Not to mention the food! Hot homely fare just right for fighting the cold night air... soup, jacket potatoes, bangers and mash and for later treacle toffee and Parkin. Yum, just the slightest whiff of that treacly gingery goodness, brings back bonfire memories....
For the uninitiated, Parkin is a Yorkshire specialty, a moist ginger cake made with oats and treacle and a gloriously sticky top, which is eaten on bonfire night.
The recipe above is written in one of the cookbooks I inherited from my Nan, in her pretty but sometimes confusing script. I treasure those cook books, they are full of quirks and annotations, and the turns of phrase and comments she's added delight me. I love that she uses the word teaspoonfull, that full at the end tickles me and I've used it in my recipe below. I've changed the recipe around a little added in more of the good stuff and don't worry as I've also added a little more explanation on the cooking process, rather than just bake in a slow oven!
2 cups of flour
2 cups of oats
1 cup of soft brown sugar
1-2 teaspoonfulls of ginger (depending on taste)
1 tablespoonfull of baking powder
1/2 teaspoonfull of salt
100g of treacle
100g of golden syrup
100g of fat ( I used a mix of butter and vegatable oil to make this recipe vegetarian, but lard is traditional)
1 cup of boiling water
1 teaspoonfull of bicarbonate of soda
9inch square tin
Put your oven on to gas mark 2 and your kettle on to boil.
Mix the fat treacle and syrup in a pan and put over a low heat to melt.
Mix the dry ingredients together, apart from the bicarbonate of soda.
Grease the tin.
When the fat has melted in to the treacle and syrup, mix the dry and wet ingredients together thoroughly.
Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the measured out boiling water (it will bubble up, which is good because it is your rising agent) and quickly stir into the parkin, scrape in to your tin and pop in the oven for 1hour 10minutes
Check to make sure its cooked just like any other cake and when ready tip on to a plate and then on to a cooling rack. Store in a sealed container when cool
Delicious whenever, but best left until the top has turned sticky... and enjoyed while bundled up in cozy knits around a bonfire or watching a firework display!
I hope wherever you are in the world, whether you are celebrating bonfire night or not, you experience some fireworks and magic of your own this week!