My easy vegan gingerbread parkin recipe is the perfect cold weather bake. Parkin is an old fashioned sticky cake, made with oats, ginger and treacle, traditionally served on Bonfire Night, but perfect for any chilly night, curled up with a good book!
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What is Parkin?
Vegan parkin is not really a cake at all, I suppose, or at least, not in the traditional sense. It is an old Yorkshire recipe, dating way back to 1728 officially, but made hundreds of years before: a sort of unleavened but sweetened cake, packed full of oats, instead of flour. My version has less flour and more oatmeal in it, making a chewier cake bar, more akin to a spiced flapjack than sponge cake.
Alison Uttley writes about several different Parkin recipes in her evocative book of childhood favourites, Recipes from an Old Farmhouse. This is a cake that has many variations, and, as with all these recipes, every family one is the best!
The reason I am so interested in old fashioned (and I mean old-fashioned in a loving way, not a disparaging way) recipes, is that they are so simple, yet always effective, delicious and usually quite quick! My favourite kind of recipes. Also, as I come from a small family, many of these recipes are smaller batch, making them perfect for a family of 4 (or smaller).
Both of my North of England grandmothers were amazing cooks, but also what I call intuitive cooks. They didn’t use scales, and just weighed flour using old measuring spoons, and eyeballing the butter or lard. I used to envy (still do!) that skill, but I know that my pastry will never be as perfect as theirs. I just don’t bake as often as they did!
- Oatmeal, don’t use a pinhead oatmeal, but rather a coarser, larger flaked one
- Plain flour and baking powder.
- Ginger, ground. Be generous with the ginger, for that is the classic flavour of Parkin.
- Golden Syrup. If you don’t have golden syrup, you can use maple syrup or corn syrup, although they don’t have the sticky, caramel flavour that is so unique to golden syrup. You can also use honey if you are not adverse to it.
- Treacle or molasses.
- Vegan butter
- Brown Sugar. It really must be brown sugar to enhance the sticky, darkness of the parkin
- Vegan Egg made with Orgran Egg Replacer
- Soy Milk or plant based milk of your choice
To make your treacle parkin recipe gluten-free, simply add your preferred choice of GF self-raising flour, and ensure that the oats your use are gluten-free. Then bake as the instructions!
Parkin is a cake that is more akin to a fruit cake, in that it needs to rest for at least a week or two before it tastes its best. So, whilst it is a quick bake to make, you do need to exert a little patience to be able to enjoy it at it’s best!
The method is just two steps, melting the sugars and butter together, and mixing that into the dry ingredients before a long slow bake.
Because Parkin doesn’t have much leavening in it, don’t expect much of a rise from this cake. What will happen is that the oatmeal will absorb a lot of the flavours and will continue to swell, giving the cake stability and texture.
Whisk all the dry ingredients into your mixing bowl.
Gently melt together the butter, sugar and syrups. Do not boil!
Pour the melted mixture over the dry ingredients and mix gently.
Add the milk and yogurt and mix again.
Leave the batter to rest for half an hour before baking.
Pour batter into your lined pan and bake for 70 minutes at 140c.
Leave to cool in the tin before wrapping in foil and keeping in a tin for at least a week to allow the flavours to mature.
After a week, cut into squares and serve!
How do you serve Parkin?
Once you have waited the almost unfathomably long one or two weeks before you can finally unwrap it (don’t forget to diary it!), I like to cut it into squares and serve it with custard. You can also just nibble on it, almost like a flapjack.
Traditionally it is served on Bonfire Night, so you’d be wrapped up cosily, warm duffel coat, gloves, scarf and woolly hat with a chunk of vegan Yorkshire parkin wrapped up tightly in your coat pocket, ready for when you get a bit peckish. Or maybe waiting for you, with a cup of hot chocolate, when you come in from the cold. I think you could serve it quite happily too, cut into square with some piping hot custard!
Other Delicious Vegan Bakes for Fall and Winter
- Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Squares
- Vegan Ginger Cookies (Fairings)
- Old Fashioned Gingerbread Cake
- Delicious Vegan Shortbread
Vegan Gingerbread Parkin
- Preheat oven to 140c.
- In a large jug, melt together the butter, syrups and sugar. Don't let it boil.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, and stir in the melted butter/sugar mixture.
- Now mix in the egg replacer and the milk.
- Mix well, then leave to stand for about half an hour. This allows the oatmeal to absorb some of the liquid ingredients.
- Pour into your prepared cake in and bake for 70 mins.
- Leave to cool in the tin before removing, and wrapping tightly in foil and keeping in an airtight tin for at least a week before cutting into squares.
Please note that where the recipe asks for milk, butter or yogurt, this refers to any plant-based version that you prefer.