We all remember the 5th of November, and every year this Autumn evening comes with a whole host of fun celebrations. But why exactly do we put up bonfires every year, and how has this annual occasion evolved over the years, to become the Bonfire Night that we know and love?
All in all, it’s a pretty wacky British tradition, but one that we all (adults and children alike) absolutely love. For us, it always marks the onset of Winter. As the evenings get darker and we need to put an extra layer on every time we leave the house, there’s something wonderful about having events like Bonfire Night (not to mention the countdown to Christmas) to look forward to.
Bonfire Night is all about donning your scarves and woolly hats for a late-night out with friends and family, as you all gather round a great roaring bonfire, tuck into delicious sweet and seasonal treats, then watch a stunning fireworks show at the end of the evening.
To celebrate all the fun and quirks of this one-of-a-kind celebration, in this blog post we’ll be going into a bit more detail about the history of Bonfire Night, before sharing our decadent recipe for a proper, traditional toffee apple - the ultimate 5th of November treat.
The annual celebration of Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Night, is a commemoration of the attempted overthrow of Parliament that (nearly) occurred on 5th November 1605. On this date, Guy Fawkes was found guarding explosives that the 13 Catholic members of the Gunpowder Plot had placed underneath the House of Lords. He was arrested, tried, convicted and eventually executed.
The aim behind the now infamous Gunpowder Plot was to replace the Protestant king with a Catholic head of state. In 1605, to celebrate the thwarted plot and the survival of King James I, bonfires were lit all across London.
A few months later, in January 1606, Parliament passed the Observance of 5th November Act. This meant that 5th November was officially marked as a day free from work, as a day to give thanks to the survival of the king. This was where the annual celebrations were born.
Over time, the celebrations evolved from being an occasion with a religious nature, to a day which was commonly associated with rioting and rebellion. By the 19th and 20th Century, the rise of organised entertainment on 5th November transformed the occasion once more into an evening of fireworks and bonfires with friends and family.
As you can see, it’s an event with a rather intriguing history. From being deeply steeped in politics and religion, to an evening of bright lights and festivities, we all remember the famous Bonfire Night poem: ‘Remember remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot.’
Now that you know a bit more about the history of the event, we can turn our attention to the ways in which we celebrate this occasion in the modern-day.
Make this year’s Bonfire Night an extra homely affair, by having a go at making your own homemade toffee apples. These are a fantastic (secretly very easy) way to impress your friends and family. Never mind the fireworks, we reckon that these will be the showstopper of the evening.
Timeless Toffee Apple Recipe:
- Granny Smith apples, 8
- Golden caster sugar, 400g
- Vinegar, 1 tsp
- Golden syrup, 4 tbsp
- Place the apples in a large bowl, then cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for about 10 minutes (this will remove the waxy coating and help the caramel to stick).
- Dry thoroughly, and twist off the stalks. Push a wooden skewer or lolly stick into the stalk end of each apple. Lay out a sheet of baking parchment onto a baking tray. Place the apples on the tray.
- In a saucepan, add in the sugar along with 100ml of water and set the mixture over a medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Then stir in the vinegar and syrup.
- Set a sugar thermometer in the pan and boil the mixture to 150°C or until it reaches the 'hard crack' stage. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the toffee by pouring a little blob into a bowl of cold water. It should harden instantly and, when removed, be brittle and easy to break. If you can still squish the toffee, boil it for a little longer.
- Working quickly and carefully, dip and twist each apple in the hot toffee until covered, let any excess toffee drip away, then place the apple on the baking parchment and leave the toffee to cool.
You can whip up a batch of these sticky, crunchy, refreshing treats up to two days in advance.
We love the way that all you need is four ingredients and about ten minutes of free time, and you can create the ultimate crowd pleasing Autumn treat (and you can say that they’re at least partly healthy!).
At Smarter, we love deceptively simple recipes. These yummy toffee apples use fruit that’s in season, and transforms them into a proper show-stopping treat for the whole family to enjoy.
If you’re a bit of an experimenter in the kitchen, and would like to try your hand at making a few more delicious desserts, sign up to our Smarter newsletter. Every week, it’s filled with cooking inspiration and clever kitchen hacks, all while giving you an insider knowledge of our latest technology.