Recipe: Parkin (Sticky Spiced Oatmeal Ginger Cake)

Parkin cake may be the best cake North Americans don't know they're missing. Rich in history and flavour, this Yorkshire ginger cake is wonderfully dense, sticky and delicious. Traditionally eaten on bonfire night in Northern England, the winter spices lend perfectly to a holiday cake. It's a simple recipe, but it requires a bit of patience as you need to wait a minimum of 3 days to eat it. But it's so worth the wait!


  • 1 1/2 cups medium oatmeal (Look for Scottish oatmeal. Bob's Redmill makes just the right kind that's available in Canada - if you can't find it, sub with rolled oats)
  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons "mixed spice" (equal parts cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, coriander & mace)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cups fancy molasses 
  • 1/4 cup Golden Syrup (find this in the import or British foods section of your grocery store or order online. Do not sub with corn syrup, it's not the same thing)
  • 1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons lard (optional, you can go all butter if you like)
  • 1 large egg 
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk or cream



Grease an 8" square baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and grease again. Preheat the oven to 300°F. If your pan has a removable bottom that may leak, line the outside with tinfoil as the batter is loose and sticky. 

In a saucepan heat the fats (butter and/or lard), brown sugar, molasses, and Golden Syrup over low/medium heat. You want to melt the fats and dissolve the sugar, not boil it down or you'll wind up with candy! Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes. 

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the dry ingredients and add the hot mixture, stirring well. Slightly beat the egg and add with the milk or cream. Make sure everything is well mixed together, but don't beat it. A wooden spoon or spatula is all that's needed here. 

Pour the sticky batter into the prepared pan and bake it low and slow. Check the cake at 70 minutes. A cake tester or toothpick should come out clean. You don't want to over bake this cake, but as ovens differ you make need to bake it longer. The cake shouldn't be soft in the centre and have a bit of spring when you test it with your fingers. 

Allow the cake to cool in the pan. Transfer the cooled cake to an airtight container and do not touch it for at least 3 days. Some traditionalists prefer longer. Due to the high sugar content and long slow bake, Parkin keeps for ages. You'll be tempted to eat it early, but don't! The cake needs time for the oatmeal to soften and the syrups to work their magic. Cut the softened cake into squares. 

It's a sweet cake and is lovely on it's own or with unsweetened whipped cream. A good cup of black coffee or whiskey go well!