As promised, here is the recipe for my Grandma Dora’s famous bonfire toffee… this is a recipe I was hesitant to share when I first published it in 2009! After 3 years it deserves a reblog – which I may well do every year, as that and my TOFFEE APPLES are brilliant for Halloween, Bonfire Night, or indeed anytime at all!
My wonderful, colourful Grandma Dora has been a huge inspiration for me and she sadly passed away over 15 years ago. But her legacy of colour, pattern and hit family recipes live on and her influence on Pearl and Earl’s style is obvious to anyone who knew her… infact my book Supersize Stitches is dedicated to her memory.
If you count calories, or don’t like things stuck to your teeth – this is not the recipe for you! But every year we made this without fail and it was without a doubt the best thing about firework night… I believe the best recipes are those with memories attached, as they somehow envoke an extra taste sensation! There are tons of variations of treacle toffee – which if you manage to keep your mitts off, makes a great home made gift at Christmas… ours is cloudy and can be a little chewy (attempt to chew at your own risk!)
Approach with caution; toffee gets very, very hot (up to 140 °C/ 270°) as it is boils. Treacle Toffee keeps very well stored in an airtight tin so make enough for Bonfire night and extra toffee for Christmas.
So here it is:
Grandma Dora’s Bonfire Toffee
300g / 12oz Demerara sugar
100g / 4oz butter
2 level tablespoons of golden syrup
1 level tablespoon black treacle
4 tablespoons of water
7 inch square tin (or 12×4 inch) – lightly greased with ground nut oil (as it does not affect the flavour)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Combine ingredients in a heavy bottomed pan
- Heat slowly, stirring until the butter melts and sugar dissolves
- Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 5 minutes
- Do a first Test by dropping mixture in a cup of cold water, it should set (or at least be a rounded ball)
- If not set
- Uncover and continue to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occassionally to avoid sticking, and checking for a set every couple of minutes
- Pour into the tin and leave to set / cool * Tip – use a spatula to ensure you have every last drop to avoid extra pan scrubbing!
- Turn out and break up with the end of a rolling pin!
Makes 1lb/500g cloudy treacle toffee
EAT, WATCH FIREWORKS, THEN BRUSH TEETH VIGOROUSLY!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN folks! Well the day is finally upon us and the kids are geared up for tricking and treating tonight with their home decorated bags… judging by the sales of our Halloween Decorations, it seems likes lots of you are celebrating in style! We had our own kids party at the weekend – and I made this giant (40cm) 5 layer pumpkin head cake – complete with coloured sugar and glitter and sugar paste features.
The children had hours (literally) of fun making Halloween Cake Toppers out of sugar paste, which to them was simply play dough you could eat!
Our Halloween Bat, Bling Cat and BOO decorations were perfect additions to our dessert bar which included Chocolate Orange Cake Pops which I made from the left over ‘cut off’ bits of the big cake and buttercream, covered with melted chocolate orange flavoured drops. You can see my old cake pop DIY here.
Goodie bags featured an orange cotton bag which the kids decorated themselves with fabric crayons and pens… which they then filled with goodies from the treats table.
However you decide to celebrate – we hope you “Have A Good Do”
Inspired by the colourful Day of the Dead Mexican Celebration (on 1st November), we think these Halloween Printable Garland Skulls Decoration by TheDollCityRocker are a brilliantly colourful alternative for Halloween.
Following on from my Halloween Bat post and Part 1 of the DIY yesterday, you will now be ready to Decoupage your Bat or Cat. To do this I created and used my own Halloween paper covered in bats, but you can use any old or new papers that you like (they dont have to be specialist decoupage)
There are plenty of decoupage methods – but I am a fan of the quick wonders of Mod Podge. An all in one glue and glaze it takes the stress out of decoupage and you can apply and finish your crafty project super quickly – as drying time is only 15 minutes.
For the Bat you will need:
- Mod Podge Glossy
- 2 A4 sheets of decoupage paper
- First cut up your decoupage paper into mini strips – approx 1x2cm long.
- You will probably not need both full sheets – but it is better to have more than less
- Using your brush and modpodge – working from the top of the bats ears – glue your strips into place
- Coat each with a layer of mod podge and then overlap the next piece, working down the bat until covered
Let it dry for 15-20 minutes and you may want to apply another thin coat as a final varnish.
To finish the bat you will need:
- 2 black pipe cleaners
- 2 sheets of grey tissue paper
- hole punch
Method (see pic slideshow below):
- For each wing, you will need to fold the tissue in half (short to short side) and then in half again
- Starting from one end fold over approx 2cm and continue along (accordian style) until you have fold the whole sheet
- On the top folded end – hole punch in the center of each fold so you can easily thread through the pipe cleaner.
- Fold one end of the pipe cleaner over and then over again to form a kind of ‘claw’
- At the other end of the folded paper – cut a diagonal edge
- Then open out the wing and using scissors cut a bat shape along the bottom edge
- Using the sharp end of the scissors push in a hole into your bat – so that you can attach the other end of the pipe cleaner
- You can then fluff up the wing so that it opens out
- Repeat for other wing
- Using a stapler attach the 2 halves of the wings together on the bat at the back
- You can use this method to attach a piece of ribbon folded in half to hang your bat too.
Then hang and have a happy 4 year old … well that’s what I did anyway!
Tomorrow .. its the turn of the BLING CAT finale
Design copyright – J Pearce and sons! 2012 All rights reserved
Following my blog post last week about our Paper Mache and Decoupage Cats and Bats - here is the promised DIY Part 1 – the paper mache / modelling bit.
You will need:
- Old newspaper or recycling paper
- Masking Tape
- Kitchen Roll
The Papier Mache stage involves creating a stabling, contoured model with a smooth layer to decoupage or paint in the final step. This is my ‘quick and clean (ish)’ paper mache technique which does not involve as much paper, the mess of newspaper ink or the need for wire. I usually put a piece of oil cloth on our kitchen table to work on – as it is easy to wipe clean afterwards (even when the glue sets).
- For the bat – screw up 2 balls – 1x10cm diameter and the other a longer version about 15cm.
- Using Masking tape stick them together and wrap the masking tape round your structure in pieces until you have a shape you are happy with
- Pull up 2 tiny bits of paper as ears and wrap a small amount of masking tape round them until you are happy with the basic pointy ear shape.
- The cat uses the same technique but the balls are a bit bigger (15 and 20cm diameter) and I also taped a circular piece of cardboard on the bottom to create a flat surface. The tail was a twisted piece of paper secured in place with tape too.
- Next you have to make your own glue, I have tried and tested a few, and my preferred concoction is a mix of 3 parts water to 1 part flour – mixed in a milk pan and placed on the heat until it resembles thick soup. Allow to cool and it is ready to use.
- I have used both newspaper and kitchen roll to model with and I have found that the kitchen roll is easier to prepare, use and model. Plus you dont end up with newspaper print fingers!
- Prepare your kitchen towel by taking several sheets tearing it along the grain into 2cm width strips. Get a good pile ready so that you dont have to do this with gloopy fingers!
- When ready – dip your strip into the glue, then lay it onto your model, crossing over the strips in different directions as you go – which will create a stronger finish.
- Work the head first, then the body.
- Make sure the layers are not too thick or it will take forever to dry!
Leave to dry for 24 hours.
- I use a cake rack to make sure it does not stick to the surface, and the flour glue will easily wash off afterwards.
Thats the end of Stage 1 .. let it dry and Stage 2 is tomorrow
Design copyright – J Pearce and kids! 2012 All rights reserved
Halloween has arrived at Pearl and Earl HQ and we have a LOT of paper decorations!.. a sneaky peek of some I posted here. But no Halloween is complete without a little bit of DIY – especially if it is child friendly – as then it gives you something to entertain the troops in half term.
A couple of weeks ago, I was working on a big papier mache project for editorial and the kids were desperate to get involved; so I asked them which 2 animals they would like to do for Halloween? Fin (4) wanted a flying bat and Libby (7) a cool cat and so together we have created a bat and cat DIY to share.
The projects were completed in 2 stages over 2 weekends and involve 2 paper crafts that I love – Modelling (with Papier Mache) and Decoupage (my latest obsession). But you can just as readily complete it over 2 days – allowing 24 hours for the papier mache to dry out. You could also opt to paint your model instead of decoupaging to cut another corner.
So over the next couple of days I will be breaking down the projects into bite size chunks for you to complete.
Part 1 to follow …
HALLOWEEN has arrived in full effect at HQ this week.. and we have a super chic selection of paper decorations to add a little paper bling chic to your celebrations.
Our Paper Honeycomb Balls come in our own dyed shades of retro orange and midnight black.. then we have matching garlands, fringe festooning, paper striped straws and crepe streamers.. and best of all the cutest paper pumpkins. Last year I launched a SPOOKY FACES PDF (including a moustached pumpkin) which you can still download here.
More DIY ideas and invites to follow…
Carrying on the Moustache theme from yesterday I found these bad boys by saralukecreative. Halloween is looming and if you fancy something a little alternative for your celebrations we are loving these super easy stick on moustaches. You get the full pack of 4 and even better there is no mess and they will last longer than the carved variety.
Personally I think they would be nice mixed in with a few lanterns as otherwise I would miss the candlelit glow… you?
Our collection of Halloween Party Decorations and Accessories is now live on the site… we are thrilled with how this area is being received.. and most of the new lines sold out as soon as they hit down!
But we still have lots of orange balls, garlands and booty bags… and while you are prepping your spooky celebrations why not download our free limited edition spooky DIY Printable Project?
Halloween is upon us and we have some fab Halloween Party decorations at Pearl and Earl, which we have had a little fun with this week.
We are adding to our collection of DIY PARTY activities on the site – and have made these 3 little projects to do with your kids (or have fun with on your own!) They are free to download on our blog here for a limited time – and afterwords can be downloaded from our site for a small fee.
The pack includes a GHOST, SCARY PUMPKIN and DAPPER PUMPKIN for your Halloween enjoyment! All you will need is a printer, scissors and some of our paper balls and paper bells to decorate.
Alternatively you can simply use them as stencils for your pumpkin – or maybe stick on a balloon?
Today is our Halloween party – and we have been baking all morning – including these (I’m very chuffed with them) pumpkin rolls for the kids…
We simply made up the bread as normal – and at the second knead we popped them into oiled shaped silicon moulds (meant to be for cakes)… Baked as normal rolls for 10 mins – and voila!
Not sure how much of the bread will be left for the troops – as we are a little fond of it fresh with a mound of butter (see half eaten loaf!)
Enjoy! (Note these are NOT pumpkin flavour – just shape!.. as the kids love them)
500g strong white flour
1 tsp (or 6g sachet) quick yeast
25g butter from fridge
300ml water (warm)
Rub Butter into the flour
Stir in the yeast and salt
In a well in the middle add the water and mix up into a dough
Knead in a mixer with hook for 5 mins (or floured surface for 10)
Oil a clean bowl and place ball in there
Cover with damp clean teatowel
Leave in a warm place for 1 hour until doubled in size
‘knock back’ – knead for another 5 minutes
form into loaf and place in 2lb loaf tin ** or cut up into 12 large or 18 mini rolls to put into the pumkin or other moulds…
Cover with teatowel again and leave to rise for 30mins
Meanwhile super hot oven on at 220oC
Place in the oven for 30mins for a loaf or 10 mins for rolls
|second kneading is when you shape into little rolls
|pop into moulds
|and here you go!
|fresh wholemeal made with our local farmers new flour.. lasted 2 minutes
Today we ventured up the road to the Pumpkin Farm in Slindon to view this years display of Pumpkins and Squashes… and buy a few for carving.
Sadly Mr Ralph Upton (the farmer) died last year and there was speculation that this fantastic local tradition was going to come to a close… but his son Robin has stepped up to the mark and I hope that he is suitably thrilled with the result. I know our kids were.
With pumpkins and squashes from 50p to £50 there is something to please all… whether looking for a Ghoulish Guord, Tasty Squash or Perfect Pumpkin… (including the ‘pus spot’ ghourd modelled by Mr H)
The whole village get together.. and the local ladies open a tea room for the week with the mother of all flapjacks and homemade pumpkin soup (50p). Open till Sunday 31st – if you are in West Sussex it is well worth a visit.
We came away with a SACK FULL!… Now to cook and carve !
We love Halloween in our house – I think it is led mainly by my daughter who finds any excuse to make decorations and organise a party… and to be frank we just go along!
After our shopping spree on Saturday – she displayed our autumn chutneys (made by my lovely friend Kati), gourds and some flowers she picked on the kitchen table…. and promptly announced I should take some pictures and ‘put it on the blog mum’. She’s 5 !
Hey ho – here you go – Libby’s autumn displays
This weekend we had our farmers market in Arundel and it was also the inaugral Food Festival in the town. Celebrating all that was local and fresh - the local farmers were out in full force showing their wares!
We are big fans of Daylands Farm – as they are the epitome of a small local freehold who grows popular but also a couple of ‘crazy crops’ to provide something a little different. This year they have gone Gourd and Squash crazy – trialling a mad variety of Pumpkins, Squashes and decorative fare.
We bought up the super sized pumpkin, pumpkins, 5 varieties of squash and lots of gourds ready for our Halloween Party decorations. We will let you know how we got on with the various recipes – but our quick lunch on Saturday was roasted squash, which was mashed up with 1 boiled potato, butter, cream and a tablespoon of dijon to make the most divine mash to go with our new season Venison sausages…. winter fare indeed.
Also in town was the local Cross Bush Farm Shop, who bought along their combined harvester and lots of old tools and different grains for the kids to touch and feel! My 2 were straight up onto the combined harvester …. and then we popped off home to make some bread with his freshly milled flour… and dry the last of the madly coloured autumn flowers for christmas decorations.
The kids had a ball – and it was one of those days when we felt a little bit in love with Sussex and the town where we live – especially on sunny Autumn days like these.
My daughter has a costume party coming up and I was browsing the internet for ideas and came across this fantastic costume from EMBROIDER ME BOUTIQUE on Etsy
Apparently her daughter won a competition with it for JC Penneys in the States.. and I am not surprised as it is Super Cute.
Any other great costumes to share? Let us know – we love a bit of early Halloween inspiration
A little later than planned due to hectic Halloween activities (see Pumpkin Post) but here is the recipe for the scoopings from our Halloween Pumpkins…. if you have already ‘chucked it away’ you can always take advantage of the reduced post Halloween prices, or use Butternut Squash instead. Yum!
ROASTED PUMPKIN SOUP
1 pumpkin – flesh only (medium/large)
1 onion finely chopped
Garlic clove finely chopped
Chopped Chorizo sausage
Vegetable stock cube
pinch of chilli flakes or 1 crushed dried chilli
2tbsp creme fresh
Handful of grated parmesan
Slug of Olive Oil
Place your pumpkin cuttings in a large roasting tray – and lace with olive oil and a handfull of fresh thyme. Place in a hot oven (180-200o) and roast for 30 minutes until the edges are golden. This gives the pumpkins a really great nutty taste.
Meanwhile heat up a good slug of olive oil in a heavy large pan (which has a lid) and saute the onion and garlic.
Add in the Chorizo sausage and cook for 5 minutes.
Add in the roasted pumpkin and top up with just enough water to cover the pumpkin (but not too much).
Add the stock cube and a pinch of chilli flakes.
Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat and ladle out a scoop or 2 of stock (you can add this back in after if soup is too thick)
Blitz in a food mixer – or with one of those indispensible hand whizzers!
Stir in the Creme Fraiche and top with a handfull of grated parmesan.
Yumlicious! (one of Libbys words)
Feeling super Autumny (is that a word) this weekend – and happy in the sunshine with a slight chill in the air. After our day blackberry picking, we had a jam and cordial making session on Sunday am, and after munching on copious amounts of toast and said jam we decided to head off to the woods at Goodwood to walk it all off.
Kicking leaves with gusto with Mr Finlay, we found some Blair Witch-esque half built wooden wigwams deep in the wood – which were mad, and perhaps a little scary! The kids had great fun continuing the build (including big kid Mr H) until Libs spotted the ‘biggest spider in the world ever’ nesting between 2 trees at the top of the wigwams!
So we scuttled home quickly as it started to get dark and toasted marshmallows on our open fire to warm up.
So with Halloween in the air we have been gossiping at HQ and finding out some weird and wonderful Halloween facts which we will of course forward on the run up to the Pumpkin festivities:
Weird fact number 1 - In Romania, it’s illegal to dress up as a witch during the month of October.
Weird fact number 2 – Eating the leaves of the pumpkin can rarely cause spontaneous growth of hair on the body – cucurbita lycanthropus
Idyllic and spooky Sunday indeed.