Name: Jennifer Ransom (Baltzer)
Class Year: 1965
Country of Residence: England
Why is this recipe great? What’s its backstory?
I never tire of visiting the plethora of historic Cathedrals, Churches and Chapels in the United Kingdom. Their spires and towers welcome you from afar, while their exterior and interior architecture, art, craft and furnishings provide a rich, text-book learning experience. Often, during summer months or on national holidays, worthy parishioners of these edifices, run a café within the main building or in a nearby Parish Hall, or in a sunny summer churchyard marquee. The cakes, buns, muffins, scones, cookies, bars, tray-bakes etc are delicious, often ‘regional’ and usually sourced from a proud local family’s treasured cook book.
On a trip ‘up north’ in autumn 2016, I sought out the magnificent Ripon Cathedral in Yorkshire for a long afternoon’s visit. Founded in 672 AD by Saint Wilfrid, it predates England itself by 255 years! From Anglo-Saxon beginnings, it has been added to over the centuries, so – like many cathedrals – boasts everything from the sombre oldest crypt in the UK, to magnificent medieval carved wooden angels in the high nave ceiling, to a 20thC pulpit with both Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau influences. (Too much to describe here, so please ‘google it’ for more.)
After several hours’ self-guided tour from crypt, to nave and side chapels, through cathedral library, treasury and museum, I was flagging and much in need of a cup of tea and a sweet treat. In the café, I fell upon the home-baked, locally-inspired “Parkin”, so delicious that I begged the recipe from the home-baker who kindly gave me her family version. She cautioned that, “Parkin should NOT be confused with a ginger cake nor gingerbread recipe. True Yorkshire Parkin contains oatmeal and treacle – any cake without it, is simply a charlatan bit of gingerbread!”
In Yorkshire (and Lancashire, but let’s not get into the Wars of the Roses!) Parkin is associated with, and eaten around Hallowe’en and “The 5th of November” or Bonfire Night, aka ‘Guy Fawkes’. (Google again for info) It would warm you on a cold night!