Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Winter Picnic Parkin.

So it's October; time to start thinking about pumpkins and toffee apples, bangers and mash and pies. All things spiced and warming and squodgy and filling are required. Things that replace the calories that being just that little bit colder rob from you. It's the time that you start reading about 'winter outdoor food' for night time celebrations like Halloween and Bonfire night, all sausages. baked potatoes and soup. Now I'm not sure about you, but an alfresco dinner, in the dark, in howling gales and the incessant drizzle of Britain's winter is really lacking in appeal at the end of a chilly day.

It is a romantic notion; twinkly lights, roaring fires and rosy cheeks. But you just know that real life would mean numb toes, runny noses and chattering teeth. I'd take PJs, a hot-water bottle and steaming HoCho (that's right, that's how I'm saying hot chocolate in my head right now- apologies, I'm sure it's only phase) instead thank you very much.

But alfresco eating doesn't have to be completely summer's domain. Some days really aaare bright and sunshiney and some days a bracing walk and picnic on a park bench is the only way to blow away the cobwebs and wake up the central-heating-numbed senses.

So here's what you need- sticky and moist, spiced and sweet and just the right side of stodge. Parkin is the perfect cold weather picnic treat. But really, don't feel bad about locking the front door, pulling up your woolly socks, putting the kettle on and enjoying a square of Parkin surrounded by the glow of home, sometimes the outdoor should just stay outdoors. With Love and Cake.


A few notes:
  • Out of bare cupboard necessity, I used Golden Syrup for the syrup part and dark muscovado for the sugar part. Traditionally though, at least some of the syrup would be black treacle so you could follow my recipe verbatim, use all treacle and all light brown sugar or chop and change and use a combination.
  • The joy/pain of Parkin is that it gets better with age- so don't make it when you are extra-specially hungry, but when you have a plan. Wrap it in foil and leave well alone for a couple of days at least before tucking in.
  • I haven't tried it yet but parkin warmed, with a squodge of cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, might be reminiscent of sticky toffee pud....why not give it a go.
Makes 10ish big squares
You will need

A 23cm round or 25x25cm square cake tin, nicely greased

1x454g tin of golden syrup
125g butter
140ml milk
125g soft brown sugar
170g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
340g oatmeal

  • Preheat the oven to 160°c.
  • Pop the syrup and butter in a pan over a low heat and melt the butter.
  • Stir the milk and sugar into the pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Mix the flour, bicarb, spices and oatmeal in a large bowl and pour over the warm liquid.
  • Stir everything together and pour into the cake tin.
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden and risen but moist and gooey looking.
  • Store wrapped in foil for a few days before cutting into squares and munching.

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