Baking / Bonfire night / Cakes / holidays / No yeast baking / Recipes / Sweet / vegetarian

Parkin (oatmeal gingerbread)

Gingerbread made from oatmeal, treacle, golden syrup, and dark brown sugar, spiced with ground ginger and nutmeg.

I like the idea of bonfire night, and enjoy thinking of all manner of things to be eaten out of hand before this extremely pagan ritual, but I haven’t actually been out to a see any fireworks for over a decade. But tonight I will, and I’m bringing a tray of this, as well as salted caramel brownies.

(Also yes hello I haven’t updated this blog for many months because I have been faffing about doing an art course.)

Ideally you’d make parkin and keep it for at least three days before eating; it is a cake which improves with time. But you shouldn’t deny yourself this cake, and there’s still time to get it done before this evening’s festivities.



Adapted from Felicity Cloake’s perfect parkin.
Keeps for 3 weeks in airtight tin.

Note on getting or substituting medium oatmeal: Oats point to the history of regional working class grain consumption and adds unique and satisfying rough texture which sets parkin apart from other gingerbreads. The right kind of oats can also be a bit of a pain in the arse to get. I’m in London and found Prewett’s medium ground oatmeal at Holland & Barrett (also available in their online shop at the time of writing), so your best bet is health and wholefood shops.

Also worth mentioning is that I found a charming thread where the good burghers of Sheffield expressed concerns re: a lack of readily available medium oatmeal and parkin, and a couple of people suggested that grindig porridge oats with a blender. The idea is to not have distinct flat bits of rolled oat, but a nubbly meal which really thickens the cake. In my experience, rolled oats can also be ground with a pestle and mortar or a similar arrangement.


120g treacle
80g golden syrup
170g unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra to grease
200g self-raising wholemeal flour (you can also use normal wholemeal flour with more leavening, see below)
200g medium oatmeal
3 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
175g soft dark or light brown sugar
1/4 tsp fine salt
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (or 1 1/2 tsp if using normal wholemeal flour)
1 egg
45ml milk, or more as needed


Preheat oven to 140 degrees C (275 degrees F). Generously grease a 22cm square baking tin and line with a sling of baking paper.

Weigh the treacle, golden syrup and butter in a medium pan (total weight 375g if you’re using analogue scales like me) and place over a low-medium heat until melted together, being careful not to let it boil. Remove from heat.

Combine wholemeal flour, oatmeal, spices, sugar, salt and bicarb in a large mixing bowl (hands are best for this), then pour in the treacle mixture, stirring just to combine.

Beat the egg with the milk in a small cup, then pour into the batter. Stir until just combined. Batter should be glossy, very thick but pourable and easily stirred & smoothed; if it seems dry and clumpy and it’s hard to move your spoon through it, stir in milk by the tablespoon to slacken if needed. I added 1 extra tablespoon.

Scrape into prepared tin, smoothing top, and bake for about 1 hour (up to 1 3/4 hours) until it’s springy at the edges, just set in the centre, and a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean (or with moist crumb). Allow to cool in the tin for at least 30 minutes. Then you can turn it out, slice and serve while warm, or cool completely and store in an airtitght tin for up to 3 weeks.