Tag Archives: plot night


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)


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:


  • 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….


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

Pickle (optional)

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.



The UK has it’s fair share of associations and groups but few can trace their origins back quite as far as the Sussex Bonfire Societies (including parts of Kent).  There are currently 35 operational Bonfire Societies; some are for the whole family whereas some are exclusively an ‘adult’ affair which has been running since the early 19th century.

In the early days, following the actions of Guy Fawkes and Robert Catesby, King James created an Act detailed as ‘An Acte for a publique Thanksgiving to God Almighty ever year of the fifth day of November’  in remembrance of the close escape from annihilation of him, his Lords and close relations who were gathered for the opening of Parliament.

In the early days, celebrations were very low key and subdued but became increasingly riotous and were eventually banned by Oliver Cromwell on the creation of the Commonwealth but re-established years later during the reign of Charles II but again, the celebrations were more hit and miss.

Bonfire Societies started initially in response to the burning of 17 protestant martyrs during the reign of Catholic Queen Mary Tudor.  They were originally just a bunch of men who went through the village at leaner times of the year (late autumn and winter) begging for food and where available, alcohol.  However, begging was a criminal offence and as such, to avoid detection, they would dress up as pirates or black up their faces leaving them free to do as they wished.  Hence the reason that today’s Bonfire Societies adopt a specific colour and type of costume ranging from monks and Saxons to jailbirds and Zulu warriors – the list is long and varied.

The members are fiercely proud and work tirelessly from one year to the next in preparation.  The events usually feature an effigy- once upon a time this would have been a very simple ‘guy’ but over the years, this has transformed into something a whole lot more thought-provoking.  Some of the effigies burnt have been controversial including several complaints about burning ‘The Pope’ and the numerous ‘No Popery’ signs carried by the revellers on their respective processions.

Last year some of the societies gained national recognition as they were featured on the BBC News.  Edenbridge B/S (Bonfire Society) burned an 11 foot effigy of the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson with his infamous mop of unruly hair, cycling helmet, Hawaiian shorts and a couple of red buses for shoes holding aloft an EU cake – the message being that you can’t have your cake and eat it – it seems that this message was not taken to heart as he steams forward with the UK’s plans to leave Europe.

Bonfire Societies across Sussex and Kent have had the proverbial ‘tilt’ at numerous high-profile individuals over the years including premiership footballer Wayne Rooney, outspoken former apprentice participant (and completely hateful woman) Katie Hopkins and even US President Donald Trump.

This year, there will be events from each of the remaining societies starting on 7th September to 16th November.  Here is a list of the dates of each:

  • 7/9/2019 UCKFIELD
  • 14/9/2019 CROWBOROUGH
  • 21/9/2019 MAYFIELD
  • 28/9/2019 BURGESS HILL
  • 5/10/2019 EASTBOURNE
  • 12/10/2019 NINFIELD
  • 3/11/2019 ROBIN HOOD
  • 5/11/2019 LEWES, LINDFIELD

If you do get the opportunity to get to one of the dates, please remember that there are hot tar barrels being corralled up and down the street, fireworks and a torchlit procession and as such may not be suitable for young children.  Furthermore, as a result of their notoriety, particularly since the arrival of social media, these events are getting bigger every year and as they are held in small towns, the crowds can bring about traffic issues so be aware of this before you go along.



Just when you thought that it was safe to come outside again, we announce another couple of forthcoming firework events which will tickle your fancy if you live in the East Sussex region.

As some of you may be aware, the area has a close connection with Bonfire night following the death of a number of the protestant martyrs in the town square who were killed for their faith by the then Queen Mary. Although the tradition of the Sussex Bonfire societies goes back to before Guy Fawkes and Robert Catesby’s era, the majority of them were created to celebrate the lives of the Marian Martyrs and around the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a great many Bonfire Societies were formed to celebrate their community and the Church of England faith.

Most of the societies today have continued to work all year around to ensure that the community has something to brighten up those cold November evenings just before Christmas to get rid of the detritus that has been collected throughout the year and of course to entertain young and old in a controlled environment.

Of course, some of the Bonfire Societies are adult only but for the majority, it is about children and the youth of today having something interesting, historical and entertaining to do.

Most of the events start with a fancy dress competition before they hold a torch-lit march through the town with band accompaniment.

The evening ends with a grand finale fireworks display and prayers of thanks for those who have fallen in service of the defence of this country.

Barcombe Bonfire Night – Saturday 22 November 2014

Torchlit processions with visiting societies marching bands bonfire and fireworks display – invite only

Hawkhurst Gang Bonfire Night – Saturday 22 November 2014

Torchlit Processions with Visiting Societies, Marching Bands, Bonfire and Firework Display.

This is a small traditional village bonfire society orientated event.

Rottingdean Smugglers – Saturday 6 December 2014

4.00pm Start Approx. Bonfire Celebrations and Christmas Shopping Night Combined with Torchlit Processions, Marching Bands, Bonfire and Firework Display.

This is a small traditional village bonfire society orientated event including a ‘Little Smugglers’