The Bakers’ ABC: P is for Parleys or Parliament cakes

Cakes or biscuits of the gingerbread order, made with seconds flour and doughed with treacle or syrup. No shortening or enriching material is employed. But ground caraway or ginger is sometimes used as flavouring. The old method of making parley dough was to use seconds flour, and to each 60lb flour, 1lb pearl ash (potassium carbonate) and ½lb alum was mixed with the doughing syrup. The dough, made stiff was kept in the barrel for two or three weeks and was used afterwards as required. The later sort of dough used bicarbonate of soda only as an aerating agent, generally 1oz to 4lbs flour.

The cakes of biscuits are usually cut in oblong pieces, about 6in long by 2in wide, with plain or serrated edges. The cakes remain hard if kept from the air, but soften in damp weather of exposed. At one time parleys were made by bakers in country towns in Scotland to be given to children who bought bread from the shops.

From The Bakers’ ABC by John Kirkland, formerly Head Teacher of National School of Baking, published 1927 by Gresham

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