It seems appropriately cold to be thinking about warming autumnal flavours and for me, that's ginger, mixed spice and treacle. I particularly love the traditional northern cake known as Parkin. I have made a couple of other versions in previous years - click to find my traditional parkin recipe and a recipe I used from Dan Lepard. Both of these are delicious, but as ever, tastes change and my fickle taste buds wanted something new and different. This year I was browsing a little magazine which I think came as part of Waitrose Kitchen - Waitrose's own cookery magazine. This was a little booklet focusing on autumn flavours and contained a recipe for a fruity parkin. I had never really thought to add fruit to a parkin before but then thought 'why not!'.
The recipe didn't quite appeal in the form it was in, so this is more of an 'inspired by' rather than an adaptation - I've changed quite a few bits of it! I can't see it on their website at the moment, but I have changed it quite considerably so give my version below.
Apple and Pear Parkin
165g self raising flour
1 heaped tsp ground ginger
scant tsp bicarbonate of soda
65g medium oatmeal
1 small conference pear
1 small apple (I used an Egremont Russet)
100g black treacle
100g golden syrup
3 pieces stem ginger in syrup, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3. Grease and line an 8"/20cm square tin.
- Mix together the flour, ginger, oatmeal and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl.
- Heat the butter, treacle, golden syrup and chopped ginger together in a pan until the butter has melted but the mixture isn't boiling.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the milk.
- Add to the flour mixture. I added a little at a time - this allows you to stir it in gradually and prevents lumps and pockets of flour forming.
- Pour into the prepared tin. Slice the apple and pear finely and lay on the top of the mixture, scattering in a random-ish fashion (I placed mine to get a good mixture of the different fruits across the top).
- Bake for about 45 minutes until the centre feels firm to the touch (I can't remember quite how long mine took).
- Serve warm as a dessert with icecream or creme fraiche or cold as a cake.
Normally, parkin benefits from having a few days for the treacle and golden syrup to draw in moisture and make the top sticky and moist - this is certainly the case for my traditional parkin recipe - it just carries on getting better and better. Here, however, the fruit on the top of the parkin means that it needs to be eaten the same day or the next day. You'll be relieved to find (as was I) that the top of the parkin is already delectably sticky and moist after only a day of waiting. In fact, I would venture to say that it is stickier and moister than either of my previous parkins. Just delicious. And this means that if you want to bake a quick batch of this for Bonfire Night this year, there's still ample time to do so!
This is fabulous - sticky, moist and full of gingery flavour. I would possibly add more ground ginger next time, and more chopped ginger, because really, can there ever be such a thing as too-much-ginger. I don't think so! I loved the ginger in the cake and the sticky top but to be honest the fruit didn't really add anything other than aesthetics (which is important, but not as important as flavour) and a good, chewy textural contrast but I think I'd leave them off next time so that the keeping qualities are improved (and I can keep more of it for myself rather than giving it away - selfish ulterior motive ;-)). Definitely a make again.
Since both apples and pears are in season right now and this makes good use of them, and as the season in a broader sense is calling to me for ginger and spice, I am submitting these to Ren at Fabulicious Food for her Simple and in Season linky, hosted this monthhttp://www.renbehan.com/2012/11/simple-and-in-season-november.html by Ren herself.
I am also submitting them to Bookmarked Recipes hosted by Jac of Tinned Tomatoes, as I first saw these when I was in the depths of revision and even though I knew I didn't have time to make them straightaway I knew without a doubt that they would be on my plate this season and recommend you add them to yours too.