Six of the best bonfire night treats from Yorkshire
PUBLISHED: 18:58 01 November 2012 | UPDATED: 21:47 28 October 2015
Tony Greenway tucks into plot toffee and parkin
Every night is fireworks night in our house — usually when the kids don’t want to go to bed or when I forget an important anniversary. But the actual official fireworks night on November 5th- you can’t beat it, can you?
The only downside is that you have to go through all that laborious Halloween ‘trick or treat’ stuff the week before, which — along with Justin Bieber, the cast of Glee, Mitt Romney, and that TERRIBLE remake of Dallas — has to be one the most annoying things to have ever come out of America. What happened to penny for the Guy?
Never mind. When you do finally get there, the pleasure of November 5th is huddling around a glowing bonfire while enjoying a cup of hot soup. Not too hot, mind. When I was seven and sipping soup at an organised fireworks display, a roman candle went off right beside me, I launched into the stratosphere and spent the next two hours blowing scalding hot mulligatawny out of my nose.
Anyway, apart from the soup, you’ll need some cinder toffee and parkin, obviously, which has become a staple at this time of year. Which made me think: who makes some of the best toffee and parkin in Yorkshire? Here are my recommendations.
The business is actually a global concern now — you see their tins in John Lewis, Selfridges and all over the world — but Farrah’s started small and is still based in Harrogate. In fact, John Farrah established the company in 1840, designing a toffee ‘to clear the palate of the putrid taste of Harrogate’s Sulphur Water’. Come on. You can’t talk about toffee without mentioning THE Harrogate toffee…
Amy Smith’s Traditional Confectionery
Amy Smith’s is a family business which makes superb plot toffee in a slab, rather than in individual foil lollipops, and it’s all done in traditional copper boiling pans. ‘One of the pans we use dates back to the 1960s,’ says Alex Fowler, the manager. ‘Another dates back to the 1940s and another is date-stamped 1919. They all have to be certified every year.’ Fab stuff.
I’ll be absolutely honest. This family firm (whisper it) moved out of the county recently — but it’s got a solid Yorkshire heart. Apart from being a fabulous cook, Ella Riley was the Yorkshire grandmother of the owner, Freya Sykes. The business started because Ella wrote down a recipe for beautiful creamy toffee which Freya found hidden away in a cookery book — and the rest, as they say, is… well… lots of toffee. You’ll find Ella Riley’s traditional sweets at lots of Yorkshire delis, farm shops, cafes and other independents including Something Sweet at Hebden Bridge, Mrs Beightons at Haworth, Sweetlands in Beverley and Bah Humbugs in Malton.
It’s bonfire night. So you NEED parkin. And Lottie’s is becoming justly famous for its produce, making Yorkshire parkin (with a recipe that’s over 100 years old), parkin pudding and even a parkin biscuit. Parkin heaven, basically.
The Little Chocolate Shop
This is a wonderful shop in a picturesque part of Yorkshire — Leyburn — which makes the most sublime handmade cinder toffee crunch. ‘It’s very light, so here’s no sticky effect,’ says Jim Hogg, the owner. ‘We have people who crave it.’ No wonder.
Various people have told me that Davill’s Patisserie in Ripon makes fabulous parkin, so I rang them to find out why it’s so good. ‘Because it’s nice and sticky,’ I was told. And is there a secret to that? ‘Yes — and I’m not telling you what it is.’
Well, fair enough. However they do it, though, it works an absolute treat.