Adele Nozedar is a bit of a whizz when it comes to sweeties. As author of ‘Great British Sweets and How to Make Them At Home’ she’s well placed to dish up some brilliant treats for the festive season.
And that’s exactly what she will be doing at our Christmas Fair on Sunday 14 December. She’ll be joined on the chef dem stage in the Market Hall by Karl Cheetham, head chef at the Gliffaes Hotel. See the full lineup
(pic above of Adele and Karl at last year’s Fair creating a giant curly-wurly)
Here are two recipes from Adele to get you started, together with information on the traditions involved.
Noson Gyflaith – which translates as Toffee Evening – was, at one time, a traditional part of the Welsh holiday season, and a way to while away the hours until it was time to go to Church for the Plygian ritual. Meaning ‘Cock Crow’, Plygian was a vigil of singing between the hours of 3am and 6am on Christmas Morning. It’s likely that the older, wiser members of the family might have gone to bed and risen early, but the younger ones would have thought it far more fun to stay up late making toffee, driven to sing better, presumably, because of the sugar rush, as well as a few pints of apple cider!
After dinner, the toffee-making was a real hands-on affair, everyone getting sticky together …. and apparently was something of a courting ritual, too. The ingredients would have been boiled in a pot over an open fire and then poured out, when cooked, onto a slab; a well-scrubbed hearthstone by the fire would have done the job nicely, the heat from the flames meaning the toffee remained pliable as the participants rolled and pulled it after buttering their hands. Can you imagine the mess it must have caused? It will be interesting to see the state of the Market Hall kitchen after we’ve finished with it!
If you fancy having a go, here’s the recipe. You will notice that I haven’t included any temperatures, but, if you prefer to be precise about these things, the heat you’re aiming for to make a hard toffee is approx 130 degrees C. Worst case scenario, if the toffee doesn’t set you’ll have a quantity of delicious treacle toffee sauce. If you have the luxury of a large open fire and ancient stone flags, why not try it the old fashioned way! Just make sure you have permission from the person who has to clean the floor afterwards, otherwise Santa will cross you off his list for sure…
- One pound of black treacle
- A quarter of a pound of butter
- One pound of brown sugar
- One teaspoon of vinegar
Put everything into your usual heavy-bottomed pan, and stir together until everything is melted. Bring to the boil and boil briskly, stirring all the while. Be careful if you’re going for the over-the-fire method. Drop a little toffee into ice-cold water, and if the water stays clear, pour the toffee onto a slab oiled with butter and pull it into twisted strands. Alternatively, let the toffee set in the tray and then smash it to pieces with a toffee hammer.
Recipe taken from Adele Nozedar’s ‘Great British Sweets and How to Make Them at Home’ (Random House/Square Peg 2014, £12.99)
Fab and Groovy Psychedelic Lollipops
These are colourful, whacky and most wonderfully easy-to-make lollipops. They look a bit like stained glass and, wrapped in cellophane and tied with a bow, would make the loveliest Christmas presents. Here’s how to make them.
- 20 paper lolly sticks (easy to buy online)
- 3 drops each of yellow, blue, and red food colouring.
- ½ tsp of the flavouring of your choice (strawberry, orange, mint….whatever you fancy)
- 227g water
- 227g golden syrup
- 400g granulated white sugar
20 paper lolly sticks (easy to buy online) You’ll also need a silicon baking sheet, or a tray lined with baking parchment.
First, arrange the lolly sticks on the tray, leaving at least 5 cms of space between each one. Then, have to hand a bowl of cold water, large enough for the bottom of the pan to sit in.
In a heavy-bottomed pan( preferably one with a pouring spout), mix together the golden syrup, sugar and water. Attach a sugar thermometer to the inside of the pan. Stir over a low heat to dissolve the sugar and then increase the temperature, bringing to the boil. The mixture needs to reach 150 degrees C (hard crack stage). Carefully remove the pan from the stove and dip the base into the cold water for 15 seconds to arrest the cooking process. Stir in the flavouring. Then, divide the mixture between 2 heatproof jugs. Add yellow colouring to one of the jugs, and blue to the other, stirring thoroughly with a skewer.
Spoon a little of the mixture onto the sticks, making freeform, hippylicious designs. The add a drop of blue colouring to the yellow mixture (to produce green) and add red to the blue one (to produce purple). Pour a second layer of syrup onto the lollipops. If the coloured syrups start to go hard, just pop them into a warm oven, or microwave for a few seconds to soften. Let the lollipops go hard (this will take about 20 minutes) before lifting from the sheet. Wrap in cellophane, tie with a bow, and present with pride.