If you're a fan of gingerbread and are looking for something uniquely different - this is it! From Yorkshire, England, Parkin is an age-old cake featuring oats and black treacle (molasses) to create a delightfully sticky, chewy cake with a deeply robust flavor that only improves with time!
Generously grease an 8x8 inch baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Place the medium oatmeal in a large bowl along with the flour, spices, salt and baking powder.
In a medium saucepan add the brown sugar, black treacle, golden syrup, butter and lard (if using). Heat the mixture until the sugar is melted (don't boil it) and remove from the heat. Let it cool for 5 minutes.
Pour the hot mixture into the dry mixture and stir well to combine. Add the candied ginger, egg and milk and stir well to combine. The batter will be liquid and sticky.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake 70-80 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. The cake should be fairly firm but springy. Let the cake cool in the pan. Invert the cake onto a platter. Peel off the parchment paper. Cut the parkin into squares.Place the squares into an airtight container and let it sit for at least 3 days before eating. This is critical (see blog post).
*OATS: The form of oats traditionally used in parkin is not rolled outs, they're what we call steel-cut oats in the United States, "medium oatmeal" in England and Irish oatmeal in Ireland. Whole oat groats are dehusked and can either be milled into a fine, medium or course "oatmeal." Parkin calls for medium. An easy way to make "medium oatmeal" per the British definition, is to take steel-cut oats and pulse them briefly in a food processor until they are broken down but not to a fine flour, you want some small chunks to remain.*HOW MUCH BLACK TREACLE? Yorkshire parkin traditionally uses black treacle (molasses) whereas Lancashire parkin uses golden syrup. Many modern recipes cross regional lines and use some of both. What the ratio is comes down to personal preference. If you prefer a traditional Yorkshire parkin with a very deep, robust flavor use more black treacle. If you prefer the flavor to be a little lighter, substitute more golden syrup for the black treacle. If you're not sure, go with less treacle and more golden syrup than what this recipe calls for (traditional Yorkshire parkin produces a very bold flavor that you may not be used to). *An important key to making parkin is to LET IT SIT FOR AT LEAST 3 DAYS BEFORE EATING. The resting time is what develops both the texture and the flavor of the cake and is essential. So don't be impatient, let time do its intended job!