Parkin (not Simon)

After my last horrendous attempt at baking, I finally got back on the baking horse last weekend and made some parkin (as in the cake, not the late eighties/ early nineties inhabitant of the Broom Cupboard who now happens to present the weather on Meridian) in celebration of Bonfire Night.

I used this recipe (I don’t know why they used such a blurry picture) and do you know what? It actually turned out to be delicious. I’m not going to be attempting Fraisier cake or croquembouche any time soon but at least it’s a step in the right direction…

For those of you who don’t know, parkin is a sticky cake which originates in Yorkshire and is traditionally made around November 5th. The idea is to make it at least a few days before Bonfire Night as it gets stickier and better the longer you leave it.

Happy Bonfire/ Guy Fawkes Night, everyone! (Be safe and all that.)

This is why I don’t bake

I’m not much of a baker. My cavalier attitude to cooking (a handful of this, a glug of that) doesn’t translate well to the scientific, accurate world of baking. However, every now and then I think: “How hard can it be to bake a cake/ some bread?” and give it a go, only to end up ballsing it up spectacularly and reminding myself why I don’t bother the rest of the time. This happened this week, when I decided to bake some fairy cakes to take into work on my last day (as I’m leaving to start a new job). I had all my ingredients ready, along with some Smarties and marshmallows to decorate the cakes with, and was feeling rather positive about the whole thing.

The recipe I used was the cupcake version of the dense chocolate loaf cake from Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess. I’m not going to blame Nigella- in my eyes she can do no wrong, and I’m not going to blame my oven (even though it’s rubbish), because a bad workman blames his tools. This is a summary of what went wrong:

I decided to double the cupcake recipe and also had to keep turning back a page because the actual method for the batter was under the loaf cake heading. Because I wasn’t concentrating properly, I ended up adding four eggs instead of two because I was looking at the ingredients list for the loaf cake and not the cupcakes. In my panic, I then had to make up the extra ingredients to match the four eggs I’d added and ended up with a huge, almost unmanageable amount of batter. I also missed out the bit in the recipe about adding boiling water to the batter to make it more liquid (although I added it to the remaining mixture while the first batch of cakes was cooking and they still didn’t turn out right).

So, after a lot of swearing and mess, I calmly admitted defeat. Behold, the culinary abomination that is my attempt to make fairy cakes- something that most children have mastered by the time they’re about eight years old:

I won’t tell Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry if you don’t…