“Plot toffee – you know, toffee made with tinned Carnation for Bonfire Night”.
“So you mean toffee then?” said my husband Iain, as he shot a look at my mate Olivia and rolled his eyes and smirked.
“Oh piss off” was about the extent of my response – it usually is when my southern-born husband takes the proverbial out of my nostalgic memories of growing up in Yorkshire.
One very fond memory of mine at this time of year is making plot toffee with my late Gran for Bonfire night. Waiting for what seemed like forever for it to set in the tin before my Gran would let me use the rolling pin to bash the hell out of it, smashing it into lots of little sharp pieces. My little sister Kathryn and I would fight over who got to whack the toffee with the hammer first, and more often than not it ended up with her whacking me over the head with the damn thing.
A Pork Pie Sensation
Of course Bonfire Night would not be Bonfire Night in Yorkshire without a polystyrene bowl filled with a pork pie and a dollop or two of piping hot mushy peas covered in mint sauce.
Something else that my husband turns his nose up at is mushy peas. As a mushy pea devotee, I am absolutely perplexed by this. There are few things in this world that are as delicious as piping hot mushy peas with a good splodge of mint sauce. I can also quite happily eat them cold straight from the tin. A Yorkshire delicacy.
Anyway a couple of weeks ago a lovely chap called Charlie knocked on my door and handed me a rather heavy box. The contents of which were a job lot of pork pies. Now as a rule I don’t do pies, I avoid the pie section in the supermarket at all costs. I do love a good pie, but I have no self-control with anything pastry-based so I have to stay well away. I can easily get through a bag of 40 frozen mini sausage rolls in a less than 48 hours over Christmas, and I have been known to polish off an entire family-sized homemade cherry pie courtesy of Aunty Sue; who, by the way makes the most amazing cherry pie and still reigns as pastry queen in our family.
So here I am faced with six giant-sized pork pies and several packets of mini cheese and pickle snack pork pies, which by the way where am-aazz-ing – a VERY tasty twist on the traditional pork pie for Bonfire Night, and the perfect size too. No messing about having to cut them up; and they were delicious as a cold snack. I ate three packets in quick succession that evening for tea… no self control. Iain also took a liking to the mini cheese and pickle pork pies too and polished off the rest of them.
My lovely business Partner James and our wonderful social media guru Alex who were at my house on the day of the delivery courtesy of Vale of Mowbray Pies in North Yorkshire and they were quick to offer their food testing services.
So for lunch we munched our way through a couple of the large traditional pies accompanied by a number of condiments to include the obligatory HP, Piccalilli, a beetroot chutney, and hummus – Pork Pie and hummus is a taste sensation may I add. Try it.
Pork Pies are a long-standing Yorkshire tradition and there is many a dispute over who makes the best Pork Pie in Yorkshire. Weegmans Family Butchers in the Yorkshire Dales Market Town of Otley has got an unrivalled reputation for their pork pies; pie enthusiasts travel for miles to purchase a Weegmans pork pie. I’m yet to try one.
And then there is Pickard’s Pies run by a lovely lady called Michelle Pickard in my home-village of Menston near Ilkley. She is supplying the pie and peas for my Bonfire bash on Saturday and was kind enough to drop me off a couple of samples; which were delivered piping hot, fresh out of the oven. I must say, they were absolutely delicious with the thinnest of pastry which helps when once has no pie self-control. I’m looking forward to tucking into a few more at the weekend and then it’s probably wise that I lay off the pies for little while; otherwise it’s only a matter of time before people start asking me if I ate all the pies.
Another Bonfire Night fave was my late Gran’s Yorkshire Parkin.
Something else that Iain apparently has never heard of. “Parkin? What the hell’s Parkin? Isn’t that what people do with their car?”. Yawn.
Yorkshire Parkin is a deliciously sticky cake made from far too much treacle and sugar. Something that should only be consumed in small quantities; god only knows how many calories are in a slice of the stuff – it’s certainly not something you want to be whipping up every weekend. Still it’s nearly Bonfire night so I dug out my Gran’s secret Yorkshire Parkin recipe and had a stab at making some for my wonderful husband – yet another delicious Yorkshire tradition that he unfortunately missed out on due to being raised in the south.
If, like me, you are hosting a little Bonfire party at the weekend whip some up for your guests; they will love you for it. One piece is ever enough though and this will make about 12 pieces so bear that in mind.
Grandma Tat’s Secret Yorkshire Parkin Recipe:
You will need:
- 225g golden syrup
- 50g black treacle
- 110g block butter
- 100g dark brown soft sugar
- 220g medium oatmeal
- 110g self-raising flour
- 3 level teaspoons of ground ginger
- A pinch of salt
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon milk
Right here we go:
You’ll need a thick based pan, a mixing bowl, a wooden spoon, an oven, a square baking tin about 6 inch square and some greaseproof paper and the cutlery draw close at hand.
Pre-heat the oven to 140°C, gas mark 1
Grab a pan and boil a heat up some water and stick the treacle and syrup tins in it to heat them up a bit. This is my top tip for getting the damn stuff out of the tins.
Empty the water out of the pan and stick it on the scales, and weigh the treacle and syrup into it.
Stick it back on the hob and throw in the butter and sugar and simmer until it’s all melted into a wonderful sticky-sweet smooth consistency – make sure you keep stirring and don’t let it boil.
Meanwhile measure the oatmeal, flour and ginger into a bowl, throw in the salt and stir in the syrup misture until blended. Throw in the beaten and the milk, and then bung the lot into a lined, greased baking tin and bake in the centre of your oven for 90 minutes on a low heat – 140 should do it.
This stuff is a bit like me, it gets better with age. Wrap it in tinfoil tightly and it will get stickier and stickier the longer you keep. Not that I expect you’ll be able to keep it for very longit’s too devine.