We called it Guy Fawkes’ Night when I was a child, and saw nothing odd about burning the effigy of a human being on top of our back garden bonfires. Dad would fire off rockets from milk bottles buried in the ground, the Catherine Wheels would always fizzle out after a couple of revolutions, I’d make patterns with my sparkler and my big brother would try to terrorise me with bangers thrown near my feet. It was over in no time but then we’d crowd into the kitchen.
Mum would have potatoes baking in the oven and she would have made sticky ginger cake and a big tin of Bonfire Night toffee, which had to be smashed apart with a hammer. It locked our jaws together, no bad thing from an adult point of view when you’ve got a room full of over-excited children.
I’ve brought the toffee and ginger flavours together in this traybake, perfect for cutting into squares for small hands but equally popular with grown-ups. You can add chopped preserved ginger or dates or a handful of sultanas, but it’s gilding the lily. Gingerbread with chewy, gooey bits. It will keep for more than a week, well wrapped, but I don’t think it’ll last until Bonfire Night in our house.
Bonfire Night Tray Bake
225g plain flour
1 tspn bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tspn salt
1 tbsp ground ginger (plus another 1/2 tbsp if you like it hot)
1 tspn powdered cinnamon
100g soft light brown sugar
100g golden syrup
100g black treacle
1 to 4 tbsp milk (see below)
1 x 125g bag of soft caramels
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Grease a 20cm square brownie tin and line the base and two opposite sides with a piece of baking paper long enough to overlap the edges. Don’t skip this stage, no matter how non-stick your tin, or you’ll be scraping toffee off the bottom later and cursing.
Measure the golden syrup, treacle, sugar and butter into a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until the butter has melted and the mix has blended. Remove from the stove and cool until you can comfortably hold your hand against the side of the pan.
Sieve the flour, bicarb, salt, ginger and cinnamon into a bowl.
Whisk the eggs lightly with the milk – use 1 tbs if you have used golden syrup from a squeezy bottle and four if from a tin. The consistency is very different. Stir into the treacle mixture. Add the whole lot to the flour bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in the caramels.
Pour into the tin, place in the centre of the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until well risen and a cake probe comes out clean. Cool in the tin for half an hour, then lift out using the baking paper and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Wrap in foil and store for two days before eating, or for a week if you like it stickier.