Ask any northerner what bonfire night is about, and chances are you’ll hear a fair few tales of parkin cake and treacle toffee. For southerners not yet acquainted with this rib-sticking delight, a parkin cake is a dark, spicy tray bake – like ginger cake, but with the addition of treacle and oats to bulk up the mixture.
We’ve gone for a classic parkin recipe here, but added a creamy gin toffee sauce for pouring. Perfect for devouring during winter evenings curled up by the fire, in one rich bite.
Begin by making your parkin cake. Preheat the oven to 160C/ Gas 3. Grease a 23cm square cake tin and line with baking parchment.
Heat the butter, treacle and sugar in a saucepan until melted, then leave to cool. Sieve the flour and spices into a large bowl and add the porridge oats.
Whisk the egg and bicarbonate of soda with the milk and add to the dry ingredients, along with the treacle mixture. Pour into the prepared tin.
Bake for about an hour, until the cake is firm and gently bounces back to the touch.
Leave to cool for 15 minutes before turning onto a wire rack. Wrap in parchment and leave to rest for a week, or serve it warm straight away with the toffee sauce.
To make your toffee sauce, mix the water and sugar in a large saucepan until the mixture reaches a sandy consistency. Then melt over a medium-high heat along with the grapefruit peel and vanilla, whisking constantly so that it melts evenly.
Carefully add the butter – it will foam up quite a bit here – and whisk until melted. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cream.
Use a fork to remove the grapefruit peel and vanilla pod (be careful of the hot sugar!) and then mix in the gin, salt and bitters. Drizzle generously over your warmed-up parkin cake.
For the parkin
120g soft dark brown sugar
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
275g porridge oats
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the toffee sauce
200g brown sugar
Peel of 1 grapefruit
1 vanilla pod
180ml heavy cream
2-3 tbsp gin
6-8 drops grapefruit/orange bitters
1/2 tsp salt