One bonobo's view of the world...and stuff.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


(Bear with me - I'll try and fix the formatting. Blogger has its own ideas)

I'm making Parkin.

For non-UKanians...parkin is a heavy, moist cake containing oats and treacle (= molasses, approximately) that sticks to the roof of your mouth. I don't know why, but it's associated with Catholic Burning Night. So are jacket potatoes, which I can at least understand - you can bake a potato in the embers of a bonfire. Then there's treacle toffee. I don't get this whole treacle/pyrotechnics connection.
Parkin originates from Yorkshire, and they'll doubtless insist that only Yorkshirefolk can make it properly.

The recipe I'm (loosely) following is:
1/4 lb/125g self raising flour
1/2 lb/250g porridge oats
1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
Some finely grated ginger (don't know how much. 'To taste'.) Or you can use ground ginger
1/2 lb/250g soft brown sugar (or I doubt anyone will notice if you use white)
1/2 lb. butter or margarine
1/2 lb/250g treacle, warmed so that you can pour it out of the tin. (stand the tin in some hot water)
1 egg (optional)
Milk to mix into a thick pouring consistency

Sieve the flour and bicarb together. Add other dry incredients and mix. Warm the butter with the grated ginger and mix in. Add the treacle and (finally) the beaten egg. Add as much milk as it needs (it should still be fairly stiff). Pour/spoon into a well greased, shallow baking tin. Bake at 175C/350F for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Turn out. Cool. Best eaten the next day and keeps for ages in an airtight tin
This is all dreadfully approximate, I know, but we're not talking precision baking here.

Probably Yorkshirefolk will complain that it's not proper parkin unless it's made with lard. And gravel.

Etymololgy Corner

Just go go off on a tangent (moi?)...Parkin gives us an opportunity to discuss a couple of etymological factoids. 'Parkin' and its variant 'Perkin' are diminuitives of 'Peter.' (As in Perkin Warbeck, The Bastard Pretender, pictured.

Now, Treacle...that's an interesting one. Originally it derives from θηριακή (thēriakē, “antidote”), feminine form of θηριακός (thēriakos, “concerning venomous beasts”) - i.e. an andidote to snake bites. This morphed into Latin, triaca and Old French, triacle and its meaning became generalised to mean a general potion to ward off diseases or spells (which were more-or-less the same thing). Now. Where do you go to gather the ingredients for potions? Into the woods. And what else do you find in the woods? Honey! And what's a bit like honey? Treacle!

And that's why fire engines are red.

Fascinating, Eh?

So while we're at it, let's do fascinating. When a Roman boy reached puberty, he would be presented with an amulet consisting of a small leather pouch called a bulla to wear around his neck. In the bulla was a fascinum, a small model of his erect penis. Fascinum became generalised to mean any kind of charm. 'To charm' is synonymous with 'to transfix' which is synonymous with 'to fascinate'. And I notice a revival of the word 'fascinator' , which fell out of use but has now bounced back re-defined.

Funny old thing, langwidge.


the quiet one said...

Drool. That's part of my weekend booked then. Love the etymology of treacle too 8-)

Did I say 'drool'?

Edward the Bonobo said...

For best effect, you have to eat it while standing near a bonfire. With a Catholic on top.

the quiet one said...

A catholic on top of my parkin? What a strange idea; I am no cannibal.

the quiet one said...

By the way, there seem to be a unit conundrum here: the quantities are given as if 1 lb = 1 kg. Now in reality it is closer to 1 lb = 500g.

While this doesn't really matter much if you follow only British or only metric, in one case you end up with twice as much parkin as in the other case. So which one gives a reasonable amount? (And for which value of 'reasonable'?)

Edward the Bonobo said...

Oops. Brain freeze. Should be 1/2 lb, 250g. Will fix.

Edward the Bonobo said...

And it also explains why mine failed spectacularly (it sank in the middle). I used a whole 454g tin of treacle.

Sho said...

You know why it sank in the middle. You. Are. Not. From. Yorkshire.

But I am and my last Parkin was yummy.

Interesting about treacle.