This recipe was written by a former colleague of ours Karen O’Neill. Karen has moved on from Fisher & Paykel after six years as the product evaluator for cooking products. Her knowledge and experience were invaluable—we certainly learnt a lot sharing the cooking lab with Karen, and her English plumb and laugh are sorely missed around here!

Karen had a wealth of experience to draw on when it came to cooking, having trained at the Le Cordon Bleu in London doing their patisserie course, and then teaching pastry at our local polytech. Her recipes not only yield flavoursome and crowd pleasing food but are completely foolproof. Over the coming months we will be posting some of her best recipes that she worked on for the blog—definitely something for all of you to look forward to.

“Parkin is a type of ginger cake that originated in Northern England around the 18th century. It is flavoured with ground ginger and treacle, which were both produced using slave labour in the British colonies of the Caribbean and imported into the Northern port of Liverpool. Usually it also contains oats or oatmeal which is grown in the cooler climates of Northern England and across the border in Scotland. Both treacle and oatmeal were important components of the diet of working class people of northern England in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Like most ginger cakes, Parkin stores very well and traditional recipes, that are less rich than this version, improve considerably with keeping. In many homes Parkin would have been baked in the oven with the Sunday roast and served as a treat with a compote of tart fruit, like gooseberries or cooking apples. The remainder would then be stored in a wooden ‘Parkin-box’ and taken in packed lunches for the rest of the week.”


Yields 30 small slices
-- 80g fine oatmeal 250ml (1 cup) milk 270g (about 1 cup) golden syrup 90g (about 1/3 cup) treacle 225g butter, roughly chopped 200g brown sugar 280g flour 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp baking powder 4 tsp ground ginger 1/2 tsp mixed spice 1/2 tsp nutmeg 1 tsp cinnamon 2 eggs, beaten


-- 1. Heat the oven to 150C and line a 23cm square cake tin with baking paper. 2. Pour the milk over the oatmeal in a small bowl to soak while you prepare the other ingredients. 3. Weigh the golden syrup and treacle into a saucepan and add the butter and brown sugar. Melt over a gentle heat, stirring occasionally. Don’t allow the mixture to boil. 4. In a large bowl sieve together the dry ingredients, ensuring they are well mixed. 5. Add the milk, eggs and syrup to the flour and mix thoroughly using a whisk. This is a very wet mixture. Pour into the tin and bake in the centre of the oven for about 1 hour 15 mins or until a toothpick or thin skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin and store in an airtight container. This sweet sticky cake is delicious served with a tangy soft blue cheese or a slice of mature cheddar.

5 thoughts on “Parkin”

  • Hi Kari,

    Thanks for your comment – the history is fascinating isn’t it?
    This recipe was written by a former colleague, but I will do my best to answer your questions.

    Treacle is the British term (and used in New Zealand and Australia) for molasses.
    Treacle is not as dark as blackstrap molasses, and is sweeter.

    These syrups are made in the process of refining sugar cane, and can range from very light to very dark. Golden Syrup (Light Treacle) is the lightest treacle, made from the first boiling process. Treacle (Molasses) is from the second boiling process and is deeper in flavour and darker in colour. Blackstrap Molasses is from the third boiling process and is darker again, and less sweet.

    Golden Syrup adds moisture, colour and delicious caramel flavours to baking and is used in lots of Kiwi favourites like ANZAC biscuits and Gingernuts; I like to use it in banana and chocolate cakes. Definitely a New Zealand pantry staple!

    Golden Syrup is very commonly used here in New Zealand – if you can’t find it you could try substituting equal parts corn syrup and honey, or even try maple syrup. You can also try substituting 1 cup golden syrup for ¾ cup (firmly packed) brown sugar and ¼ cup water.

    Happy baking!


  • Thank you for the information. I really love stumbling on to something new to cook with. I looked online and found a site that sells both treacle and golden syrup in the U.S. so I’m excited to order it. Looking forward to making this cake. You have a lovely site. Thank you:)

  • This is a great parkin. Nice and sticky, especially if you can leave it a few days before you eat it. Have been in NZ for 15 years and it brought back great memories when I took the first bite. I’ve tried a few different recipes but this is the nicest. I was born and raised in Sheffield, UK and although my mum never made parkin, it was a great treat to go to my friends house and have a piece of ‘Yorkshire Parkin’. My friends mum always seemed to have one in the oven, one in the pantry and one on the table. We weren’t allowed to cut it if it was less than a week old. She had special tins to keep it in. I stumbled across your recipe when I was looking online for a chocolate chip cookie recipe. That is another smashing recipe. Thanks

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