Remember, remember the 5th of November. Gunpowder, treason and plot . . .
Tomorrow is Bonfire Night in the UK. A night where we gather together to light bonfires, eat Treacle Toffee and watch firework displays.
If you’ve never experienced Bonfire Night in Britain before, it’s hard to describe the atmosphere. There’s a buzz in the air, a smell of gunpowder mixing with popcorn and hotdogs, clouds of smoke waft down the streets making the streetlights hazy. Tinny music and calls of “scream if you want to go faster” come from travelling fairground rides set up in city parks, and fireworks wizz, pop and bang in bursts of colour in the sky at random intervals from dusk.
The history of Bonfire Night is a dark one – In 1605, Guy Fawkes was caught trying to blow up the Houses of Parliament with barrels of gunpowder he had stashed in the cellars there. He was tortured to get the names of his co-conspirators, executed, and his body burned on a bonfire. After that, all around the country on the 5th November every year, bonfires were lit to celebrate the foiled plot, and effigies of Guy Fawkes were burned.
Nowadays, it’s less about executing criminals, and more a chance to stand in a muddy field in the cold, wearing a brand new pair of wellies and £5 worth of glowsticks, with your friends and family, eating sweets, drawing shapes in the air with sparklers and watching professional firework displays set to music. Then spend a fortune trying to win a goldfish at a rigged Coconut Shy or Hook-a-duck.
But as with everything this year, Bonfire Night 2020 is going to be a little different. England is just about to enter a second lockdown, and everyone in Wales, Scotland and Ireland have had all mass gatherings cancelled. But us Brits are renowned for our resilience, so I’m predicting lots of small backyard firepits and firework displays tomorrow. So I thought I’d share with you the perfect dessert to tuck into while sipping a gin and tonic, watching your other half run back and forth across the garden setting of fireworks. Best served warm with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream, this upside down plum cake is sticky, sweet and packed full of autumn spices.
Ready in 55mins – 1 hr 15mins (15mins prep, 40-60mins bake)
- 300g of Muscovado sugar
- 225g of unsalted butter
- 200g of self raising flour
- 1 heaped teaspoon of baking powder
- A heaped teaspoon of ground ginger
- A flat teaspoon of nutmeg
- A heaped teaspoon + a pinch of cinnamon
- 3 free-range eggs
- 2 tablespoons of milk
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 6 or 7 fresh plums, cut in half, stones removed
- Preheat oven to 200c / 180c fan / gas mark 6
- Put 150g of sugar, 150g of butter and half a teaspoon of vanilla into a large bowl and beat together until light.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, the ground ginger, nutmeg and one heaped teaspoon of cinnamon.
- Add this, a bit at a time, into the butter and sugar mix, alternating with the eggs and milk until it’s all combined to make a thick cake batter.
- Put the remaining 150g of sugar, 75g of butter, pinch of cinnamon and half teaspoon of vanilla in a pan on a medium/high heat on the hob.
- Melt the butter and sugar and simmer, stirring regularly for about 2 mins until thickened.
- Spray a cake tin or pie dish with fry light or something similar, or lightly grease with butter. (Wrap kitchen foil around or place on a baking tray of you’re worried about leakage)
- Pour the caramel mixture into the bottom of the tin and arrange the plum halves on top, cut side down.
- Spread the cake batter on top and smooth out the top.
- Bake for 20 mins, then turn the heat down to 180c / 160c fan / gas mark 4 and bake for a further 20-30mins or until well risen, firm to touch, and a cocktail stick inserted into the top comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool for a few mins before turning out, upside down, onto a plate.
- Serve immediately.
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