Copyright free photo courtesy PDPhoto

Today is the 404th Anniversary of Guy Fawkes Night, or Bonfire Night.

It's the 404th Anniversary of Guy (aka Guido) Fawkes and his gang attempting to blow up Parliament.

This is what Wikipedia says:
Guy Fawkes belonged to a group of Roman Catholic restorationists from England who planned the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.[3] Their aim was to displace Protestant rule by blowing up the Houses of Parliament while King James I and the entire Protestant, and even most of the Catholic, aristocracy and nobility were inside. The conspirators saw this as a necessary reaction to the systematic discrimination against English Catholics.[4]  The Gunpowder Plot was led by Robert Catesby, but Fawkes was put in charge of its execution. He was arrested a few hours before the planned explosion, during a search of the cellars underneath Parliament in the early hours of 5 November prompted by the receipt of an anonymous warning letter.
Guy Fawkes Night (or "bonfire night"), held on 5 November in the United Kingdom and some parts of the Commonwealth, is a commemoration of the plot, during which an effigy of Fawkes is burned, often accompanied by a fireworks display. The word "guy", meaning "man" or "person", is derived from his name.[5]

To this day, school kids chant this round the bonfire:

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot,
We see no reason,
Why gunpowder treason,
Should ever be forgot!
In addition to fireworks, there are the special sweets: toffee apples, Cinder toffee, Bonfire toffee (also known as Treacle toffee). I think the recipes are a few hundred years old as well.

Here's some recipes (courtesy of The Foodie). See below for how to boil sugar correctly and safely.

PARKIN(the traditional cake)

225g (8oz) Plain Flour
225g (8oz) Medium Oatmeal
110g (4oz) Lard or Margarine
110g (4oz) Golden Syrup
110g (4oz) Black Treacle
110g 4oz Sugar
1 Egg, beaten
4 tsp Ground Ginger
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon (optional)
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
Pinch Salt

Pre-heat oven to 170°C: 325°F: Gas 3.
Grease and line a square baking tin with buttered greaseproof paper.
Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, salt and cinnamon (if used).
Add the oats and sugar, mix lightly.
Gently rub in the lard or margarine.
Stir in the beaten egg.
Gently warm the syrup and treacle, so that they can be easily poured.
Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the syrup and treacle.
Mix thoroughly.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tin.
Bake for 45-60 minutes or until firm and cooked.
Allow to cool for at 15-20 minutes before removing from the tin.
Cut into squares, keep in an airtight tin for 24 hours before serving.

Cinder Toffee photo from Domestic Goddess in Training (who also has her own great recipe for Cinder Toffee).


450g (1lb) Granulated Sugar
300ml (½ pint) Water
50g (2oz) Butter
25g (1oz) Dark Cooking Chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
4 tbsp White Vinegar
3 tbsp Golden Syrup
½ tsp Baking Soda, sifted

Place the butter, water and vinegar into a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat gently until the butter has melted.
Add the sugar golden syrup, dark chocolate and allow to fully dissolve.
Bring to a boil, to a temperature of 138°C (280°F).
Remove from heat.
Add the baking soda, stirring well until bubbles subside a little
Pour the mixture into a well oiled 18cm (7 inch) sandwich tin.
When the mixture has cooled a little mark the surface into squares with a knife.

Treacle toffee photo courtesy Diana's Desserts


450g (1lb) Soft Brown Sugar
225g (8oz) Black Treacle
110g (4oz) Unsalted Butter
2 tbsp Water
1 tbsp White Vinegar

Place the butter, water and vinegar into a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat gently until the butter has melted.
Add the sugar and black treacle, allow to fully dissolve, this takes about 20 minutes.
Boil the mixture to a temperature of 138°C (280°F).
Remove from the heat, allow the bubble to decrease.
Pour the mixture into a well oiled 18cm (7 inch) sandwich tin.
When the mixture has cooled a little mark the surface into squares with a knife.
When cold break into squares, wrap in cellophane and store in an airtight container.


And here are the essential basics in boiling sugar the traditional way:
  • Always measure the sugar and water exactly.
  • Heat gently, do not allow to boil until the sugar is fully dissolved.
  • Whilst heating stir with a wooden spatula, scraping the bottom and corners of the saucepan.
  • Brush the sides of the saucepan occasionally with a pastry brush dipped in warm water, to prevent a build up of crystals.
  • Never stir the boiling liquid unless directed by the recipe.
  • Ensure that the correct temperature is reached.
  • If using a sugar thermometer, dip it in to hot water before tested the sugar, return it to the hot water after testing.
  • When the correct heat is reached, remove the saucepan from the heat and place on a damp cloth, to prevent further cooking.

Tests for Sugar Temperature

To water test, fill a small bowl with cold water, remove ½ teaspoon of sugar mixture from the saucepan and drop into water. Leave for one minute, then test using thumb and forefinger.

Thread 110 - 114°C (230 - 238°F)
The sugar mixture will form a fine thread if pressed together then pulled apart.

Soft Ball 114 - 118°C (238 - 245°F)
The sugar mixture will form a soft ball which can be squashed flat.

Hard Ball 118 - 138°C (245 - 280°F)
The sugar mixture will form a ball which will hold its shape when pressed.

Small Crack 138 - 152°C (280 - 305°F)
The sugar mixture will separate into threads that will snap cleanly.

Hard Crack 152 - 163°C (305 - 325°F)
The sugar mixture will separate into threads which are brittle and hard.

Caramel 174°C (345°F)
The sugar mixture becomes golden in colour.

Photo copyright


Toffee apples are easy - just select some nice ripe apples, remove the stalks and stick them with wooden skewers, chopsticks, whatever - then dip into toffee. I'd recommend the Caramel sugar mixture. Dip in, take out and twirl around till the toffee starts to set, then dip again to get a nice thick layer. Allow to cool down upside down (stick side up) on non-stick paper etc.

Don't core the apples first, as you'd need a very thick stick - as skewers etc will pass right through!


  1. What an interesting post, thanks for sharing. I love history and the recipes are fab, I might try them someday, always wanted to make toffee apples, reminds me of my childhood and a little sweet kiosk where the little old lady made them all herself :)

  2. Very educational! I never knew about this occassion.
    And the recipies look DELICIOUS! As soon as I'm all mended and back on my feet again, I'll be in the kitchen trying these out, they may be something different for the holidays this year :)
    Thanks Susie, you're such an interestng person and you constantly inspire me.


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