Monday, 7 November 2011

Bonfire Baking


The bonfire!
 Yesterday was the village farm bonfire party. For the children of the village it is a chance to get up close and personal with a big bonfire whilst eating all manner of yummy foods and watching some pretty impressive fireworks (thanks to the generosity of the farmer!).  For us grownups it is a chance to relive our childhoods with the smell of woodsmoke, the whizz bang of the fireworks and the taste of bonfire classics; hotdogs, gingerbread and  home made toffee. The food is a pretty adhoc affair with eveyone pitching in with a flask of homemade soup, a basket of baked potatoes or some baked goodies.

I decided to make a couple of different things. The first, gingerbread, I made a few days ago to give it chance to get really sticky. This recipe I found on the good food channel website and was so easy to make and became really moist and sticky after a few days wrapped in foil in a sealed container. It really is the ideal cold weather cake. The ginger is so warm and aromatic. Just perfect for bonfire night.

Sticky Gingerbread
280g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of salt
170g unsalted butter, softened
90g lightlight muscovado sugar
220g golden syrup
1 egg
200ml milk
4 pieces preserved stem ginger, chopped

Set the oven to 180°/gas 4. Line the base of a 20cm square cake tin with non-stick baking parchment, and butter the sides.

Sift the flour with the bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt.

Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Now beat in the golden syrup, then a heaped tablespoonful of the flour mixture followed by the egg.

Beat in the remaining flour, followed by the milk, until the mixture forms a smooth batter. Stir in the stem ginger.

 Scrape into the prepared tin. Bake for about 40-45 minutes until firm to the touch. Test by inserting a skewer deep into the centre. If it comes out clean then it is done. Let the gingerbread cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.

Once cold wrap in greaseproof paper and foil and store in an airtight tin for a couple of days before serving.

The second recipe I Googled and tried was for cinder toffee. My mum always used to make this for bonfire night and I have such happy memories of munching on this honeycomb toffee whilst watching fireworks lighting up the sky. The recipe I found was again on the Goodfood channel website. It looked similar to that I remember my mum making so attempted it with confidence. Unfortunately my confidence was short lived because when I got to adding bicarbonate of soda to the toffee mix my toffee did not bubble up very much at all and the toffee would not set.

This experience reminded me that you cannot always trust what you see on the internet! I have spoken to my mum since and she has promised me her recipe for cinder toffee next time I head back home. I would like to say at this point that every recipe on this blog has been tried and tested by me, an amateur baker with no formal qualifications, so you can trust that these recipes will work for you.

Thankfully the lovely lady who provides our eggs had made some fabulous toffee. So mine was not missed. I  am planning to get the recipe for the Lavender Cottage toffee and will have a go, with what I am told is a failsafe recipe.

Because my toffee didn't work out I decided to make some toffee apple cup cakes instead. This was another internet find from another blog theartofbeingperfect.blogspot.com  This recipe worked a treat and I was very pleased with the results. A definite keeper for me. If eaten warm (before icing!) the toffee is still runny and if left to cool the toffee becomes chewy but still very soft.

Toffee Apple Cupcakes
Makes 12

55g  unsalted butter, softened
125g  soft light brown sugar
1 large egg, beaten
210g plain flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
200g apple sauce, from a jar
1 heaped tablespoon creme fraiche
12 toffees

Directions
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Line a bun tin with cake cases.

Cream the butter and sugar together for about 3 minutes until smooth. Add the egg, beating until well combined. Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt.  Add the apple sauce and creme fraiche and mix until totally combined.

Spoon half the mixture into the paper cases, Place a toffee in the centre of each and then spoon the remaining mixture on top. Bake for about 20 minutes, until well risen and firm to the touch.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Caramel Buttercream
1 stick butter, softened
4 cups icing sugar
3 tbsp caramel syrup
2 tbsp milk

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter, half the icing sugar, milk, and caramel syrup. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating for about 2 minutes after each addition, until icing reaches desired consistency; you may not need to add all the sugar. Spread or pipe the buttercream onto your cakes as required.


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