Parkin – a Guy Fawkes Night Tradition

Posted on Nov 6 2007 - 11:01am by Barry C. Parsons
Parkin - a British Guy Fawkes NIght Tradition

Parkin – a British Guy Fawkes NIght Tradition

Parkin is a Northern English oatmeal ginger cake traditionally eaten on Guy Fawkes Night, November 5.

Traditionally eaten on Guy Fawkes Night in northern England, Parkin is a sticky ginger, spice and oatmeal cake. Think an oat-y gingerbread with a brownie-like texture. Spouse is a big gingerbread fan and she loves this recipe.

Guy Fawkes Night of course refers to the 1605 Gunpowder Plot to blow up the House of Lords in London. The annual bonfires supposedly started as an annual commemoration that the plot was foiled and King James survived. In Newfoundland we do refer to the event as Guy Fawkes Night as well, but most often locals will just call it Bonfire Night. There would have been many individual bonfires lit in small communities on the island when I was growing up but most have now given way to organized community events. Having survived over 4 centuries, it is one of those celebrations that underlines the close connection that we maintain to our British heritage here in Newfoundland.

As a tip of the hat to that historical connection, I researched the few recipes for parkin that I could find online at the time, as well as soliciting the advice of an ex-pat Brit who grew up in Northern England in the Pre World War II era. He remembers his mother’s parkin, which the children greedily stuffed into their pockets to enjoy beside the evening bonfire. Upon sampling my version he declared it to be spot on. Apparently a dry parkin is not a parkin at all!

Parkin - a Guy Fawkes Night traditon
Prep time
Total time
Parkin is a traditional sticky oat spice cake from northern England that's enjoyed on Guy Fawkes Night.
Serves: About 15 servings
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup rolled oats (large)
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 cup corn syrup (or golden syrup if you can find it)
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 3 tbsp milk
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F or 275 F for convection bake. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch pan and line it with parchment paper.
  2. Stir together the flour, biking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and rolled oats in a large bowl.
  3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and add the corn syrup, molasses and brown sugar. Heat until warm but not hot.
  4. Mix this into the dry ingredients.
  5. Beat together the eggs and milk and stir this into the batter.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
  7. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until the center springs back and is set.
  8. Serve warm or cold, on its own, with caramel sauce or with baked apples.

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6 Comments on "Parkin – a Guy Fawkes Night Tradition"

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Barry is this recipe really baked at 275’F?

Barry C. Parsons

Yes. You will notice that it is for quite a long time. I think the idea is to bake it slowly to keep it soft and moist.

Noëlle Perry-Earle

Recently I scored a fabulous deal on tins of Lyle’s treacle and golden syrup at our gourmet food store. They just so happen to specialize in British food products, so I’m going to try this again using those in place of the molasses and corn syrup. I may wait till Guy Fawkes though… I made this once before using what I had available and it was gorgeous, so authentic syrups are going to make it even more awesome!


I’m a little confused. Recipe says 300 F, above a lady asks if it’s 275 F, and the answer is yes. What temp is the oven supposed to be on? I’m definitely making this! I’m living away niw but I still call it Bonfire Night…fond memories!