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Press Release: Termination of my Perfect Parkin Quest

Posted by StuartDalby, Thu 14 Feb 2013 1:22 pm
It is with deep regret that I announce today the termination of my Perfect Parkin Quest.

You may be aware that the Perfect Parkin Quest began in late October 2012 when I was asked to bake Parkin* for a combined Halloween/Guy Fawkes party held in Catonsville, Maryland, USA.

I was faced with the challenge of baking something I had never attempted before, with a recipe sourced quickly from the internet, in an unfamiliar kitchen and using unfamiliar American ingredients.

The task was further complicated by the fact that the kitchen available to me in my brother Richard's house, whilst impressively stocked with all manner of top-quality cooking tools and utensils, was missing arguably the most important tool of all, a pair of weighing scales.

However, not to be put off, quantities were estimated and Parkin, or something purporting to be Parkin, was baked. Initial feedback was encouraging, although with Richard just back from his gym, he would probably have liked anything. Whilst tasting wonderful, the Parkin was less a cake and more a crumbly pudding. It went great with some ice-cream.

After this initial trial run, a second Parkin destined for the party was started. The quantities of ingredients were tweaked and a cake, not a pudding was produced. It was however, a little firm. Sampling of the Parkin at the party was... slow, to put it mildly. It would have been none existent if it hadn't been for Richard & my blatant promotion along the lines of "Try this perfect, traditional, home made Yorkshire Delicacy". Feedback was polite. However, there was plenty of Parkin left at the end of the party and no-one rushed to take it home.

On my return to England I was confident that with the right recipe, proper ingredients and a working pair of weighing scales it would be easy to bake a Perfect Parkin, something which I was willing to admit, the US attempts had not been. How wrong could I have been?

Parkin recipes seemed to be few and far between. There seemed to be a massive variation in which ingredients were used, their quantities and their proportions. One Parkin needed to be baked in a full-sized roasting tin! The end result was a large, flat Parkin whose size and consistency matched closely the paving slabs I had recently been laying in my back garden.

I admit that some of the failed Parkin attempts may have been caused by some, on-the-fly, ill-advised substitution of ingredients. For example, in one instance, a recipe stating an ingredient as just "Treacle", had Black Treacle added when in hindsight, it might probably have been better to have used Golden Syrup. That particular Parkin was very dark, bitter and had a more brick-like consistency. You live and learn.

With local supplies of custard powder quickly running out, I was becoming concerned about the effect of the Perfect Parkin Quest on my health. Whilst the exact calorific value of a typical slice of one of my Parkins was never determined, I estimate the figure at around 500 Calories, or approximately the same as a standard Mars bar! The consistency of the Parkins was also deemed to significantly increase the chances of tooth damage. Some levelling of the tips of Stuart's teeth was also perceived.

Consequently, I have decided, reluctantly to terminate the Perfect Parkin Quest with immediate effect.

Who would have thought that the light, sticky-on-top Parkins produced so easily and reliably by my mother and Nana during my childhood were actually so difficult to make? Maybe there were special Parkin baking classes back in those days? ;-)

* Parkin is a soft cake traditionally made of oatmeal and black treacle, which originated in northern England. It is often associated with Yorkshire, particularly the Leeds area. See

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Posted by StuartDalby, Fri 15 Feb 2013 3:23 pm
Is it just me or does everyone see adverts from Google for paving slabs? That's just rubbing salt into the wound!

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