The “English” get a bit huffy at Halloween, they start complaining about the “Americanisation” of October 31st and all the paraphernalia and hype in the shops. Guy Fawkes Night (aka Bonfire Night) is their seasonal celebration (November 5th).
Well, here in Scotland, Halloween has always been celebrated with the tradition of “guising” – not “trick or treating” you understand, just dressing up and going round the houses in dis”guise” – performing a wee song, skit, poem or nowadays often just a joke. Since our household is 50% Scottish and 50% American – we indulge in Halloween. Also, the Scots are secretly a wee bit annoyed Guy Fawkes didn’t succeed in blowing up the English Parliament – so no “Bonfire Night” for us North of the Border.
The best thing about the Americanization of All Hallow’s Eve, however, is the introduction of the pumpkin. It wasn’t any fun as a small Scottish child trying to hollow out a “neep” (swede) for your lantern. In fact it was impossible. My effort below is pretty basic compared to Ballet Girl’s but I was busy making my wreath!
So pumpkins are fun and my kids, who are denied “sweets” pretty much all year except Easter and Christmas, like Halloween very much. This year, I am celebrating the fourth and final coat of fresh paint on my front door with a seasonal leaf wreath. I threaded hundreds of sycamore leaves on to a wire coat-hanger – time consuming but cheap (no cost) and therapeutic. It used a lot of leaves but I was able to nip up to the Church Yard for more leaves every time I ran out. To “treat” my kids this year I have made them a giant Jaffa cake.
I was going to put red food colouring in the orange jelly bit to make it “blood orange” for the occasion but in the end chose not to (didn’t want to sully a classic). I found the recipe on a blog I follow called Tangerine Drawings and you can find it here. I just love the fact that she uses drawings rather than photographs. My sponge turned out beautifully, very light. It’s made from only flour, cornflour, sugar and eggs. The orange jelly is made from gelatine, fresh squeezed orange and marmalade. The chocolate top is pure dark chocolate. So, pretty much like a regular Jaffa Cake only bigger.
Basically you bake the sponge, make the jelly in a slightly smaller cake tin lined with cling film, then when it’s set, place the jelly on top of the sponge and smooth the chocolate (melted over a pan of hot water) over the top. I apologise for my plastic table cloth – mine is a working kitchen not a photo studio. I cook, I mend, I make; and, sometimes I clean (when absolutely necessary) ‘cos it’s no fun at all and cuts into my “playtime.”
My giant Jaffa Cake turned out a bit tangy, I’m not sure the kids will actually like it, I maybe shouldn’t have used home made Seville orange marmalade or should have added more sugar. Still, if it’s too sharp for the kids, we sophisticated grown ups can eat it all. Jaffa Cakes are pretty low fat you know. Here’s another shot of my kitchen, I took the table cloth off for this photo but you can see all the normal kitchen mess in the background.
Anyway, have a great All Hallow’s Eve, however you celebrate it, keep warm, crochet yourself a new hat, make a cake, snuggle someone you love.