No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Simple parkin recipe (vegan)

(My latest, most definitive parkin recipe is here. This post tells the story of how I developed it, beginning down at the bottom.)

As a Lancashire lad I remember the parkin of my youth with great affection. My mother's version was full of oats (obviously), treacle and ginger. The mouth feel was 'claggy', thick and ultimately - well, unctuous!

As a vegan I'd given up on the idea of ever experiencing its like again.

However, after the success of the vegan chocolate cake I've been making fairly frequently recently, I thought why not adapt the oil-based recipe to make parkin?

So I did, with great success! You'll find the recipe and pics further down the post.

Saturday, 30th June.
I've made this recipe several times since I last reported, and, in an attempt to make it less crumbly (my only criticism - if it can be called that!). So last night I made one with a little more wholemeal and a little less porridge oats (120g flour to 80g porridge oats). Didn't make a damn bit of difference! :) It was still gorgeous - still crumbly. Next time I'll try 120g oats and 80g of flour - but I won't alter the definitive recipe until I find something that does make a difference.

Friday, 10th February.
Happy to report the parkin was just terrific when I ate the last piece yesterday.

Made two more tonight - one at the request of the husband of my Lancashire mate. She's going away for the weekend so we're having a men's get-together on Saturday night - rugby and cards at his place. He's asked me to bring some parkin along, which I'm happy to do. Since I shall be visiting my daughter and son-in-law on Sunday I thought I'd take a load of parkin over with me.

Went down a treat, with SIL!

Wednesday, 8th February.
Just gets better every day. Next time I'll have to make two batches, then I can have one to eat straight away and one to put on one side.

I've got about 40g left and I'm trying to leave it until Thursday.

Monday 6th February.
Just had a little nibble this morning - it's firming up nicely. It was fairly crumbly to begin with, but now it's slicing much better - and the taste is - well, superb? Can I say that? :-)

Here's the crumb - it was sliced on the second day

Sunday 5th February.
Finally tasted the parkin this morning - and it's wonderful! It's very close to the parkin of my youth - and it's not even a day old, yet!

The acid test is coming up this afternoon, when I take a piece to a Lancastrian friend of mine, from Preston. I'll report back when I hear her judgement.

In the meantime, I'll just have another nibble...

This afternoon I gave a piece to my Lancashire friend and she was well impressed - I believe she actually used the word "Fantastic!" at one stage!

Saturday 4th February.
Thought it was time to make another batch of parkin. It's freezing outside - tried to snow this morning - and thoughts of a cup of something warm and a piece of parkin are very appealing! Apart from which, tomorrow I'll be taking a piece of parkin round to my friend's house - his wife comes from Preston, so she'll be able to pass a considered opinion.

The changes I decided to make were - wholemeal flour (bread flour, as it happens), instead of white - and extra baking powder to replace the self-raising bit.

So the amended recipe looks like this:

100g porridge oats
100g wholemeal flour
2 and 1/2 tsps baking powder
4 tsps ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
100g sugar
100g blackstrap molasses - warmed and added after the oil and water
80g oil (sunolive, in this case)
220g lukewarm water

Here are the before and after pics:

That dark swirl in the middle is a bit of the molasses which had stuck to the side of the bowl 

Which can still be seen on the finished article.
I wish I'd taken a pic of the first parkin whilst it was still in the silicon case - then it could be seen if they both had risen the same. I'll post a pic of the crumb tomorrow, when I cut into it. Have to admit, it's very tempting, sitting here on my worktop, smelling of treacle and ginger!

Thursday 26th January.
I ate the last piece today, by which time it was 5 days old - and it was brilliant! Maybe not the same cake as I remember - but since that was over 50 years ago, how would I know. All I do know is that it's a darn good cake, and one I'll make again.

I've decided that the only change I need to make is to use wholemeal flour (with baking powder) instead of white self-raising flour. Parkin is supposed to be heavy and dense, not as light as this one was.

Monday 23rd January.
Still improving - now I'm not thinking of changing anything. We'll see.

Sunday 22nd January.
24 hours later, the cake is improving; it's moist, full of flavour and definitely more parkin-like. It's becoming more crumbly, as well - and parkin should be crumbly. Perhaps I'd better wait and check it out over the next few days before I decide what changes to make - if any.

Saturday 21st January.
After spending some time comparing recipes, I've come up with this recipe:

100g oatmeal
100g s/raising flour
1 and 1/2 tsps baking powder
4 tsps ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
100g sugar
100g blackstrap molasses - warmed and added after the oil and water
80g oil
220g lukewarm water

I'm not expecting great things from this, but, once I've made it, I can then think about tinkering with it and hopefully come up with a reasonable alternative to the traditional recipe.

I mixed the dry ingredients, then warmed the molasses and water - since the molasses was quite cold and stiff, I was afraid it wouldn't mix with the water properly.

I then added the oil, followed by the water and molasses.

It's now mixed, poured into the cake case, and it's in the oven. We'll found out in about 40 minutes how good it is!

Turned out OK!
40 minutes at 175C, and it came away clean from the silicon cake case.

My first bite I thought a bit strange - but it was too fresh, still hot from the oven. Now it's cooled down a bit I can make a more considered judgement.

It's a lot lighter than I remember, but it is still 'claggy' and sticks to the teeth.

I forgot to mention in the original recipe that I ground half of the porridge oats, thinking the baking powder would react better. Next time I'll leave them whole.

It's also very 'treacly', which is no bad thing, but it tends to dominate and drown out the flavour of the ginger. Next time I might use 50g of syrup and 50g of molasses.

Otherwise, I'm very happy with it. As with the chocolate cake, I need to cut it up into 50g chunks and freeze them - otherwise I'll just nibble the parkin away.

(Update - 7.00 pm - I've eaten about a third of it already! It's very moreish!)
The piece on the left shows the crumb with the cake broken, whilst the one on the right was sliced with a bread knife.