Wishing a belated Happy Halloween but also a Brilliant Bonfire Night if you are here in the UK! I know that we have a few readers in the U.S. so to explain a little... Bonfire Night on the 5th November is also known as Guy Fawkes Night or Fireworks Night, originating in ancient pre-Christian Autumn festivals but carried on in remembrance of Fawkes and his gang's plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament! 5th November was always the bigger deal around here until around a couple of decades ago when Halloween increased in popularity. Both festivals are now celebrated equally, if not swayed more in the direction of Halloween.
After the fun of Harvest and gathering the last blackberries, elderberries, rowan and fallen apples to make our preserves for the following year with, these celebrations are something we really look forward to in our family!
I love to decorate our house the week before Halloween and leave it up about a week after the 5th November. We arrange pumpkins on the fireplace; these are a relative newcomer to the UK... we used to carve out turnips on this side of the Atlantic but my poor dad did it only once and I don't blame him!
I fill glass vases with bay leaves from the garden; the pine cones and conkers that the children collect are strewn about the place. Orange pumpkin buckets filled with pears and apples decorate the sideboard to inexpensively add the feeling of plenty.
This fabulous cake I wanted to share doesn't just have to be for Halloween, though the added "Boo!" makes a cute touch for spooky parties In fact, treacle and dried vine fruits are quite a tradition around the Bonfire Celebrations, in old-fashioned treats like toffee and Yorkshire parkin. This cake with its moist chocolate crumb, sweet bursts of fruit, and treacle cream frosting is reminiscent of those dark sweet delights. It makes a perfect treat for November evenings.
Bonfire Chocolate Cake with Treacle Cream Frosting
300g self raising flour
50g cocoa powder
180g granulated sugar
225ml boiling water
2 tbsp. black treacle (I believe the almost-equivalent molasses in the US is darker so you might need to experiment with less if it is all you have)
100ml rapeseed oil
For the frosting:
300g icing sugar
75g vegetable-based solid fat (I use about half Vitalite, and half Trex)
2 tsp. black treacle
Optional: sultanas to decorate
For the cake, dissolve the sugar and treacle in the hot water. Mix all of the cake ingredients together until well combined and thick. Transfer the mixture to a non-stick or lined 450g/1lb loaf tin. Bake for 50 minute at 180C. When cooled, tip carefully out or lift out using the lining paper.
For the frosting, gently melt the fat and treacle. Work in the sugar until combined. Work while still slightly warm and cover the top of the cake. You can decorate with sultanas to make the "Boo!" or "Bonfire" if you like. When the frosting cools completely, the Trex ensures a properly set texture.
The whole cake costs approx. £1.48, with prices from Asda 8/11/14