‘Penny for the guy?’. Bonfire night, or Guy Fawkes Night, is arguably one of our more unusual celebrations here in the UK. A day where massive bonfires are the norm, children create effigies of Guy Fawkes to be paraded about town before being burned on the fire & fireworks light up skies & back gardens.
On November 5th each year we commemorate the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605, where Guy Fawkes was arrested whilst trying to blow up the House of Lords in an attempt on King James I’s life. This is why today, we celebrate with lots of gunpowder, explosions & generally burning things (told you it was unusual).
Whilst it’s less common to find children carting around wheelbarrows filled with their Guy’s these days though, there are a few more flavourful traditions that thankfully have stood the test of time (we all know I love a bit of food tradition!).
I’m talking Bonfire treats… bonfire treacle toffee, parkin & toffee apples. Each as bad for your teeth as the next but delicious nonetheless. This year, seeing as we’ll be in lockdown over November 5th, we’ve got an opportunity to make it old school & get back to some of these traditions. Each of these treats we’re almost always homemade by families because it was far cheaper than buying your toffee or apples from the confectioners.
With a little extra time on my hands this year, I figured I’d spend some of it in the kitchen myself, creating my own special homemade treat to celebrate. Staying true to those traditional bonfire flavours but putting my own little modern twist on them.
Taking inspiration from a personal favourite of mine, toffee apples, I’ve tried to recreate those comforting flavours. Three layers of a moist, lightly spiced, apple cake are sandwiched together with a sweet, caramel buttercream. To make it extra special & mark the occasion, I’ve gone all out for decoration, topping my cake with a huge, edible bonfire made of honeycomb flames, chocolate & pretzel kindling & another drizzle of salted caramel for good measure (can you even have too much?).
TOFFEE APPLE BONFIRE CAKE
(makes an 18cm layer cake)
For the cake:
- 110g butter
- 200g soft light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 350g apple sauce
- 220g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ginger
For the caramel buttercream filling & covering:
- 300g butter
- 600g icing sugar
- 250g salted caramel
Optional – For the decoration:
- A few shards of honeycomb
- 50g Matchmakers salted caramel chocolate sticks
- 75g salted pretzel sticks
- 1 – 2 tsp salted caramel to drizzle
To make the cake:
- In a large jug, beat together the sugar & butter until pale & fluffy
- Add the eggs to the bowl, one at a time, beating after each addition
- Next, add the apple sauce to the mixture & stir through
- Place a sieve over the bowl & sift in the flour, raising agents & spices before using a large spoon or spatula to fold everything together until smooth & no pockets of dry flour remain
- Divide the mixture evenly between 3 greased & lined 18cm sandwich tins
- Bake in the oven at 180C for 25 minutes, until golden & the cakes are springing back to the touch when pressed lightly with a finger in the centre
- Leave the cakes to cool in their tins for 10 mins before removing & placing on a wire cooling rack until cooled
To make the caramel buttercream:
- In a large bowl, beat the butter to soften it a little
- Add half of the icing sugar to the bowl & beat until combined
- Add the rest of the icing sugar to the bowl & beat again until smooth
- Beat in all of the salted caramel to the buttercream until fully incorporated
To assemble the cake:
- Secure the bottom sponge layer of the cake to it’s place or stand will a little of the buttercream
- Use a spatula to generously spread 2/3 of the buttercream on top of two cakes & sandwich all 3 of the together, pressing each cake layer down a little when added
- Use the remaining buttercream to cover the sides & top of the cake before using a large palette knife to smooth off the surface
- Use a combination of the honeycomb shard, Matchmakers & pretzel sticks to create a bonfire effect, focussing on either the centre or one side of the cake
- It helps to focus on building the decorations up into a triangular peak using the larger piece first before beginning to elaborate using the smaller pieces
- To finish, drizzle the salted caramel over the cake, either over the top, around the decorations or in a drip effect over the edge of the cake