Ginger was one of the cheapest spices in the past, so gingerbreads were very popular among the working classes. Nearly every European country had its own version, and in England there were many regional types. In Yorkshire, where Downton Abbey is set, a type called Parkin, which was made with rolled oats, was popular. However, the staff at such houses would have expected slightly better food than the locals were eating, so this version uses only flour. This recipe is adapted from a handwritten book kept by Avis Crocombe, a Victorian cook who, like Mrs. Patmore, worked in a large country house. The cake is very practical for busy cooks, as it keeps for months, which means it can be made well in advance and stored until needed.