Archives for posts with tag: bonfire night

I can’t believe we are in the home stretch to 2013. 2012 has passed way too fast for my liking. Looking back through the photos which have documented this year, I haven’t been baking or blogging about baking nearly enough.

And though this has been a recurring sentiment, I’m getting back in the proverbial (blogging) saddle. Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat. There’s going to be a whole lot of baking, eating, sharing and best of all a big trip to the motherland.

Stay with me, dear readers… but in the meantime, here’s a taste of what went on in the downtime:

Victoria Sponge

Victoria Sponge in honor of the Diamond Jubilee. Recipe from Primrose Bakery Baking Book, although I used fresh strawberries in place of jam and Earl Grey/Lemon whipping cream. This was my first go at the traditional British cake. I was happy with the way it turned out and will most likely bake it again when tradition calls.

Hepburns

My baking book of the year is definitely ‘Baked In America‘ – maybe it’s because I’m American, but mostly because this is one AMAZING baking book. Recipes from this book are featured many times throughout the blog in 2012 and will continue to be featured in the future. One day I’ll finally make it to Chiswick to Outsider Tart and hopefully meet my baking heroes – the two Davids.

The brownies above are called Hepburns (Kate, rather than Audrey) and probably the best brownie recipe around. They make ideal treats for any occasion – school fetes, birthdays or general parties.

Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake brownies

Brownie tower

These Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Brownies were made especially for my mother in law’s un-birthday party. As her party food was served buffet-style, I wanted to make a special desserty treat that attendees could eat as little or as much as they like. So these brownies were cut into 1.5 in squares and served on cake stands mixed with the Hepburns featured above.

Orange polenta cake

Another series of books which have inspired breakfasts, dinners and baking alike are the Leon books. The Orange Polenta Cake is from Leon – Baking & Puddings, book three, as featured in the ‘Teatime’ section. This cake is an ideal accompaniment to Earl Grey tea and also gluten-free!

Trish's Two Cents

Martin has been working on building a set of speakers over at his dad’s house. I like to take a baked treat when we go over. One weekend in September, Trish’s Two-Cents from Baked In America caught my eye and I had to give it a go. This is the best ‘pound-cake’ type cake I have ever had. It is definitely going to be in regular rotation for when cakes are called for.

Pumpkin pie

And last, but not least, in the baking recap is Pumpkin Pie. This is a recipe traditionally served at Thanksgiving, in fact was featured in my Thanksgiving blog post from 2011, but I am not celebrating Thanksgiving this year so it was moved to Bonfire Night. While this recipe is from the back of a Libbys can, it is home-made with love and reminds me of autumnal days past.

Watch this space for Christmas treats to come soon…

Bonfire night is an event, specific to England, to celebrate the failure to assassinate King James in 1605. Like a lot of observed ‘holidays’, the historical meaning gets lost, but the tradition still lives. Families get together around a bonfire in the garden and let off fireworks or go to local fireworks displays, similar to how Americans celebrate 4th of July. As an American expat, I much prefer bonfire night for a couple of reasons. Reason 1 – see earlier blog post. Reason(s) 2 – I love autumn, I love the crispness in the air, bundling up around a bonfire, and especially the traditional food involved.

Since moving to the Market Harborough, we started a tradition of spending bonfire night at my in laws. Sausages are always incorporated into the dinner menu somehow, this year was no exception. I was in charge of dessert and didn’t really know what would be ‘bonfire-y’. My colleague, Keredy, suggested Parkin, which is a Yorkshire cake traditionally enjoyed on bonfire night. My 2nd cousin – once removed – Jack suggested marshmallows, which got me thinking… what goes with bonfires or campfires? S’mores! Here’s how it went…

I researched some Parkin recipes online and came across one from Delia Smith. She’s a trustworthy source, so I went with it:

Traditional Oatmeal Parkin
8 oz (225 g) medium oatmeal
4 oz (110 g) self-raising flour
a pinch of salt
7 oz (200 g) dark syrup or golden syrup
1 oz (25 g) black treacle, plus 1 teaspoon
4 oz (110 g) margarine
4 oz (110 g) soft brown sugar
2 level teaspoons ground ginger
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C).

Parkin key ingredients

Parkin ingredients

First weigh a saucepan on the scales, and weigh the syrup and treacle into it.

Then add the margarine and the sugar to the saucepan and place it over a gentle heat until the margarine has melted down – don’t go away and leave it unattended, because for this you don’t want it to boil.

Butter brown sugar treacle

Parkin melted treacle

Meanwhile, measure the oatmeal, flour and ginger into a mixing bowl, add a pinch of salt, then gradually stir in the warmed syrup mixture till the mixture is all thoroughly blended.

Next add the beaten egg, and lastly the milk. Now pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 1 hour 45 min.

Parkin batter

Then cool the parkin in the tin for 30 minutes before turning out.

finished parkin

Parkin should be made a few days before it is intended to be eaten. This is one bonfire tradition I can get behind. It is one tasty cake with flavours of dark treacle and ginger. Best served while sitting around a fire.

Bonfire fire

Parkin in front of fire

S’mores are an American dessert traditionally eaten around a campfire. Since we have not yet gone camping, a bonfire is the closest thing. The origin of the s’more (short for Some More, because they are so good you always want some more) is unknown, however the first printed recipe dates back to 1927 from ‘Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts’ by Loretta Scott Crew. There are three simple ingredients in a S’more – marshmallow, chocolate and graham crackers. Graham crackers are not native to the UK, so I used digestive biscuits as a substitution. Desperate times call for desperate measures… it works.

Mini G Marshmallow

How to make S’mores on bonfire night:

Step one – take a large marshmallow, place on the end of a long stick – we used bamboo skewers – then place the marshmallow dangerously close to the flames of the bonfire. It’s ok if the marshmallow catches fire, just blow it out – it adds to the experience/flavour.

Step two – take a digestive biscuit and place a piece of chocolate on it. The best sort of chocolate would be the flattest bar you can find. Hersheys is traditional to the US, but Sainsburys own will work fine too.

Step three – place the marshmallow – still on the skewer – on top of the chocolate piece and digestive biscuit. Then place a second digestive biscuit on top of the marshmallow creating a marshmallow and chocolate sandwich. Gently remove skewer, stick (whatever you might be using).

s'mores

Step four – squash a bit so that the marshmallow goes a bit oozey, then put it in your mouth and eat it.

These were a hit with the fam.

The rest of the evening was spent burning things, as you do on bonfire night.

Fireworks

Nanny and Mini G

Bonfire night sparklers

Fun for the whole family…I love bonfire night.

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