By Keighley’s Mike Armstrong, an award-winning master baker with a big passion for baking. See

THIS year with all its doom and gloom, Bonfire Night is sadly cancelled along with everything else that’s going on.

Halloween parties are cancelled; ghosts, ghouls and Dracula are staying in their coffins, carved pumpkins will look a bit sad and all the trick and treat sweets will be eaten by us for once!

Penny for the Guy won't materialise and dad’s cast-offs will go to the charity shop instead.

No progging, and garages of junk accumulated over lockdown will have to gather dust for another year.

Mum is unable to make her tooth-pulling plot toffee due to dentists only admitting emergencies.

Pie and pies will be eaten indoors, and granny locked down at home unable to share her parkin with her grandchildren.

Christmas biscuit tins normally used for fireworks will be kept empty, Roman candles, Catherine wheels and traffic lights once lit with the cig in the mouth won't be bought. Sky rockets and air bombs will stay silent for once over our town, with our pets enjoying stress-free bliss around the home. The smell of wafting sparkler sulphur in the air trying to write our names will not get the kids excited this year.

Do we rearrange plot night for springtime and see us munching Easter eggs around the bonfire?

I will tell you what will go ahead this year, parkin pigs. He will not be an elusive character hiding with his face mask on, often found scuttering around the hedgerows of toffee, rolling in golden syrup or sticking his snout into a forest of ginger – he will be the pigging star of the show!

The parkin pig is very local to us Keighley folks. He falls bang in the centre of the Leeds, Bradford and Halifax Yorkshire triangle.

Back then the rich folk had their bonfires and ate spit boar, the poor had to make do with pig-shaped biscuits not to be left out.

He must always have a recognisable pig-style profile, snout and pointy ears with the biggest currant for an eye.

Help me on my mission again this year to keep the parkin pig alive before that ever-popular Peppa Pig takes his place and he vanishes forever!


(Makes 9 large and 12 little piggies)


100g / 4oz unsalted butter

50g / 2oz soft brown dark sugar

150g / 6oz golden syrup

225g / 8oz plain flour

2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger

Large juicy currants for eyes


1. Sieve the flour, ginger and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl, ensuring that all the ingredients are mixed in well.

2. Gently melt the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup in a large pan over a low heat, stirring continuously.

3. Once melted, add to the dry ingredients, mixing well with a wooden spoon.

4. Place your sticky mixture into a fridge for the butter to firm-up for half an hour.

5, Roll out your pig dough to the thickness of a pound coin.

6. Stamp out your parkin pigs or use cardboard stencils and place onto parchment-lined baking trays allowing room to bake.

7. Rework the scrap dough until it’s all used-up adding a currant for its eyes.

8. Bake your parkin piggies in a preheated oven 180c / Gas Mark 5 for around 12 minutes or longer for a better crunch.