Bonfire Night in the UK is a traditional celebration that goes back 414 years starting out as a signal of gratitude from King James 1st of England following from the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot by Robert Catesby and Guy Fawkes and their co-horts in 1605 and it continues to this day.
The food has changed somewhat since the early 17th century but still, the basics of bread, cheese, fish, meat and desserts were simple milk puddings and fruit tarts (apple in early autumn and strawberries and gooseberries in summertime). As a period marked by war, the plague and fire (the Great Fire of London in 1666) it was also the point at which European food hit the tables of the wealthy including the introduction of French and Italian cheeses and wines to eat alongside the huge array of pickles and preserves (pickling was used to keep certain foods available all year without spoiling).
Today’s traditional fayre is usually hot dogs and burgers and of course sticky parkin (we have a great recipe tried and tested)
TOASTED MARSHMALLOW AND GINGER CAKE
First up is a great alternative to Parkin and looks and tastes great.
100g butter (plus a little extra for greasing)
100g dark muscovado sugar
100g black treacle
140g golden syrup
225g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125ml whole milk
3 medium egg yolks, whisked with a fork (save the whites for the icing)
140g butter – softened
200g icing sugar
4 smalls stem ginger, finely chopped, plus 1 tbsp syrup
½ tsp ground ginger
- 3 medium egg whites
- 175g golden caster sugar
Melt the butter, sugar, treacle, and syrup in a small saucepan, whisking until smooth. Set aside to cool for 10 mins. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Grease and line a LARGE loaf tin with baking parchment/greaseproof paper.
In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients together (flour, bicarbonate of soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, and 1⁄2 tsp salt). Pour in the slightly cooled syrup mixture and the milk, followed by the egg yolks. Whisk until you have a smooth batter. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hr or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin for around 30 mins, then slice off the top to give you a smooth surface. Flip onto a wire rack and remove the baking parchment. Leave to cool. It can now be covered with cling film and kept for up to 5 days.
To make the buttercream, put the butter, icing, stem ginger, syrup and ground ginger in a large bowl and blend with an electric hand whisk until smooth.
To make the marshmallow icing (also known as swiss or Italian meringue) put the egg whites (separated when the cake batter was made) sugar, 1 tbsp water and a good pinch of salt into a heatproof bowl. Place over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the hot water, and whisk until thick and leaving a prominent trail from the beaters – this will take about 4 mins. Remove the bowl from the heat and continue whisking for another 3 mins until cooled slightly and stiff. Transfer half to a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle and set aside.
When ready to assemble (cake and meringue cooled) slice the cake lengthways into 3 even layers. On a cake stand or plate, reassemble the cake, with the largest slice on the bottom, layering with the buttercream.
Using a small butter/pallet knife, cover the cake with the marshmallow icing left in the bowl. Use the palette knife to create vertical lines along the edges. Now use the piping bag to pipe spikes of meringue over the top of the cake. Use a cook’s blowtorch to toast the meringue to a golden brown – a few charred patches will add to the effect. Serve straight away or chill for up to 2 days, remove from the fridge 30 mins before serving. We decorated ours with sparklers.
Next up, burgers and dogs! The smell of frying onions is one of those tempting whiffs guaranteed to get the taste buds screaming for fodder. These are my personal favourite go-to recipes for Bonfire Night:
HOT DIGGEDY DAM DOGS
- 6 large pork sausages
- 2 tablespoons of oil for cooking
- 1 large onion finely sliced
- 1 teaspoon of grain mustard
- 6 flour tortillas
- 2 tablespoon tomato relish
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the sausages in a couple of tablespoons of cooking oil on a tray in the oven. 200° fan/electric or gas mark 6 for around 10 minutes. Once they are under-way, move the sausages to one side and scatter the finely sliced onions on the bottom and toss in the oil salt & pepper and the grain mustard before putting back into the oven for a further 10-12 minutes until the onions are softened and the sausages cooked through. They are ready to serve wrapped in a warmed tortilla and a little relish or ketchup mmmmmm….
SMOKED PAPRIKA AND CHEDDAR BURGERS
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 lb minced beef
1 lb minced pork
4 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of paprika
1 teaspoon of dried marjoram
1 small very finely chopped chilli (optional)
1 teaspoon ground all spice
10 burger buns
10 slices strong cheddar
Finely sliced lettuce and tomato
2 large red peppers (roasted – recommend scorch all over and pop into a plastic bag to cool a little before peeling off the blackened skin and slicing thinly)
For the relish, mayo, hot sauce, ketchup and burger relish (one dollop of each into a bowl and mix!)
Put the meat, onions, garlic, salt, and pepper, paprika, chilli and spices/herbs and mix together thoroughly. Once combined, make into ten burgers and fry gently in oil/butter on a skillet until cooked through (depending on your taste) on each side and serve on a warmed bun with a slice of cheese, lettuce, tomato and onions with a couple of slivers of the roasted red pepper – simply delicious.