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How to make the perfect parkin

In the north of England, parkin is a delightful Bonfire Night treat. But whose recipe makes the bestversion of this sticky ginger cake?

It’s the time of year when friends from northern England suddenly remember, remember the joys of parkin, the sticky ginger cake traditionally enjoyed around the bonfire on 5 November – and, almost as one, begin mithering on about the pains of exile to the barbarian south, a land where parkin’ costs £8 an hour.

Native to Yorkshire and Lancashire in particular, it also goes by the name “thar cake”, which, according to Laura Mason and Catherine Brown’s encyclopaedic The Taste of Britain, suggests Middle English origins, “associated with the pre-Christmas Martinmas fast, and possibly, with pagan bonfire ceremonies that took place at the end of October (later christianised into All Souls).” The modern name parkin, or perkin, possibly related to a diminutive of the name Piers, is “inexplicable but may denote affectionate disdain”.

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