Wednesday, 24 December 2008

The feast of Stephen

This is the parkin I made - pictured as a work-in-progress - a few days ago. As a stiff dough it has excellent potential as a construction cement. Yet it also enters the pantheon of things I really like to eat when they're raw, taking its place beside cake mix and shortbread. Everyone, surely, likes to eat cake mix, but I think I could be on my own with the other things. After 10 years working in women's and teen magazines, perhaps I finally have my first eating disorder.

As a finished article, I have discovered that no matter how late it is, how weary you are, or how quickly you want your parkin to cool so you can put it away, you should always allow it the dignity of cooling in the comfort of its tin. Don't let the chill air give it a rude awakening as you hoist it out by the greaseproof-paper lining and dump it on the cruel surface of your kitchen table. When you return to it five minutes later, you may find, as I did, that you have a large square slab of ginger-scented concrete on your hands, and it is the work of seven strong men on a building site to saw it into portion-sized pieces.

However, I have found that the reassuringly nuclear powers of a household microwave revive it a treat, and restore it to the pleasingly spongey texture of newly-laid turf. Furthermore, I heartily recommend it as an alternative to Christmas pudding or mince pies at your festive table, particularly with a tangerine-sized scoop of vanilla ice cream resting on top. It is no competition for Mrs Jones's Mincemeat Tart but I am only a beginner by comparison.

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