OK so I really should have posted these recipes before November 5th but nevermind! Ah well. Hopefully you'll remember them when you come to plan your Bonfire Night parties next year.
First up we have Parkin. A classic autumnal cake, originating in the North of England and traditionally eaten on Bonfire Night. It's very similar in many ways to gingerbread but with the addition of oats. The ginger, treacle and syrup mix together to make the most fabulous smelling cake - no need for any fancy scented candles when you're cooking this one. It tastes great too and is all the better for being left for a few days before cutting into it.
(adapted from a recipe in Good Food Magazine from years ago)
3 tbsp milk
175g/6oz golden syrup
100g/4oz black treacle
85g/3oz light muscovado sugar
100g/4oz medium oatmeal
250g/9oz plain flour
2 rounded tsp ground ginger
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1) Preheat the oven to 160c/gas mark 3/fan oven 140c. Grease a deep 23cm/9inch square cake tin and line with greaseproof paper. Beat the egg in a small bowl and stir in the milk, then set aside.
2) Put the syrup, treacle, sugar and butter in a large pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted. Remove from the heat. Mix together the oatmeal, flour, ginger and bicarbonate of soda, then stir into the syrup mixture, followed by the egg and milk. Combine well to give a batter-like consistency.
3) Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 50-60 minutes until the cake feels firm and a little crusty on top. Leave to cool in the tin, then turn out and peel off the greaseproof paper.
4) Wrap the parkin in clean greasproof paper and foil and leave it for at least three days before you cut - this will allow it to become much softer and stickier. The parkin will keep for up to two weeks.
The second recipe today is for Cinder Toffee. Or Honeycomb. Or Hokey Pokey. Or that stuff you find inside Crunchie bars. I'll leave you to choose your favourite. Whichever you go for this stuff is deadly! In an addictive, super-sugary, keep-your-dentist-on-standby sort of way. And deadly simple to make too - the actual cooking part took me a mere 5 minutes or so.
I really recommend you try this one but don't blame me for any fillings!
(adapted from How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson)
200g caster sugar
4 tablespoons golden syrup
1 tablespoon bicarbonate of soda
1) Grease a 21cm square tin generously with butter.
2) Off the heat, mix the sugar and golden syrup in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, then put over a medium to low heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes (this is based on a 20cm diameter saucepan). The mixture is ready to come off the heat when it's a thick bubbling mass, the colour of rusty caramel - no darker.
3) Take off the heat and quickly whisk in the bicarbonate of soda and watch the caramel foam up in an opaque golden cloud (mine didn't foam up that much but it didn't seem to matter). Pour into the waiting tin and leave to set. This will take a few hours. When cold you can set to it with an implement of your choice (I used a rolling pin) and bash it into pieces.