Aye up! Last week we escaped to a little cottage on the edge of Yorkshire and the Peak district. We replaced the rolling green hills and thatch of Devon with rugged, heathery peaks and pretty villages built from yellow-cream stone. Yorkshire has a flourishing food scene and we happened upon several excellent farmers’ markets and food festivals. The pubs within walking distance of our cottage all served the most delicious, local grub and ales; I feel like I’ve put on about a stone in weight! So no surprise that I wanted to stave off the post-holiday blues and recreate a little bit of ‘up North’ at home.
Most people, myself included, would cite Yorkshire pudding as the county’s most famous export but the list also includes tea, wines, various cheeses including Wallace and Gromit’s favourite Wensleydale, liquorice, rhubarb, pikelets and last, but by no means least, parkin – the hearty British version of pain d’epices. Parkin is just perfect for this time of year, it’s rich, spicy with a sticky, oaty texture. It’s the perfect match for ripe autumn pears which, whilst not a feature of the original recipe, taste wonderful in my slightly tweaked version containing cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg as well as the traditional ginger. The baked cake has a dark colour that comes from the honey and treacle and actually improves with age – I recommend that you make this at least three, if not four, days before eating to allow the flavours to deepen and the moisture to develop.
Adapted from Delia Smith
- 225g oat meal or rolled oats
- 110g self-raising flour
- 200g honey or golden syrup
- 30g treacle
- 110g unsalted butter
- 50g soft brown sugar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2-3 tbsp milk
- 1 large ripe pear, peeled, cored and sliced
Pre-heat your oven to 140°C. Butter and flour a 20cm square tin (I actually used a 1.2L star-shaped tin).
If using rolled oats, blitz them in a food processor until gritty and mealy – not too fine.
In a large bowl mix the oats and flour. Warm the honey, treacle, butter and sugar over a low heat until the butter is melted. Do not allow to boil.
Pour the warm honey mix into the oats and flour and stir to combine. Beat in the egg and milk. You should have a thick but pourable batter. Add more milk if it seems too thick.
Spread half of the batter on to the base of the tin. Arrange the pear on top then spread over the remaining batter making sure the pear is covered.
Bake for 1¾–2 hours. Allow to cool for 30 minutes in the tin before turning out.
Leave to mature in a sealed tin before serving. Serve with custard for a tasty pudding.