Bonfire Night ginger cake recipe: How to make traditional Parkin Cake for Bonfire Night

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Bonfire Night originated from the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when a group of provincial English Catholics attempted to assassinate Protestant King James I of England – and failed. The day is also known as Guy Fawkes Night and take place on November 5 every year in the UK. Guy Fawkes was a member of the Gunpowder Plot, and was arrested while guarding explosives beneath the House of Lords.

Since the failed plot, the night is commemorated all over the UK.

Many traditions are now tied to the night, including lighting huge bonfires and setting off fireworks.

As well as this, meaning celebrate the happening with traditional food – such as Parkin Cake.

Parkin Cake is a sticky cake consisting of oatmeal, ginger, treacle and syrup.

How to make Parkin Cake

Recipe from BBC Good Food


  • 200g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 200g golden syrup
  • 85g treacle
  • 85g light soft brown sugar
  • 100g medium oatmeal
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger


Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3 and butter a deep 22cm (8.5 inches) square cake tin and line with baking parchment.

Beat the egg and milk together with a fork.

Gently melt the syrup, treacle, sugar and butter together in a large pan until the sugar has dissolved and remove from the heat.

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Mix together the oatmeal, flour and ginger and stir into the syrup mixture, followed by the egg and milk.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 50 mins to one hour until the cake feels firm and a little crusty on top.

Cool the cake in the tin then wrap in more parchment and foil.

For the cake to become even stickier, make it ahead of Bonfire Night.

BBC Good Food recommend you leave it for five days before eating it to get the best result, but you can leave it for as long as two weeks.

Why do people eat Parkin Cake on Bonfire Night?

Parkin Cake is traditionally from the north of England.

Some people even call Guy Fawkes Night “Parkin Day” as the cake is so tied with the evening.

The origin of the word parkin is unknown, but the cake is often associated with Yorkshire, where is it baked commercially.

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