Thursday, 30 October 2014

Bonfire Night Recipes

The season is well and truly upon us, and Bonfire night is just around the corner, and whether you'll be celebrating this weekend, on the 5th or the following weekend (as there seems to be lots of different bonfires on lots of different nights - ooh how many could we go to...) it's the perfect excuse to get creative in the kitchen with your favourite Bonfire night recipes.

Here's one of my all time favourite recipes, its a Black Treacle Parkin recipe make with oats, and is probably classed as 'Lancastrian parkin', it's from one of my mums circa. 1970's school cookery books (thanks for the recipe mum), and it's what my mum makes every November.


Parkin Recipe


  • 170g plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • 340g medium oatmeal (or porridge oats)
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 455g black treacle (tins come at a weight of 454g, but overlooking the last gram is acceptable)
  • 115g butter
  • 140ml milk
  • 30g soft brown sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.
  2. Prepare a 25cm/10 inch cake tin (this needs to be oiled and fully lined with greaseproof paper).
  3. Sift the flour and spices into a large bowl.
  4. Stir in the oatmeal (or porridge oats) and the bicarbonate of soda.
  5. In a saucepan over a low heat, melt together the treacle, butter, milk and sugar. Stir occasionally until the butter and treacle are melted, and the sugar dissolved.
  6. Immediately pour the warm, dark mixture into the dry ingredients and beat thoroughly.
  7. Pour into your prepared tin, spreading mixture to fill tin evenly.
  8. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, or until firm.
  9. Leave to cool in tin, then cut into squares.

N.B.You’ll need good willpower with parkin. It’s essential that you allow it to rest and don’t eat it straightaway. A week is about the length of time recommended to let it mature into proper sticky heaven.

Cinder Toffee

Cinder Toffee

Cinder Toffee is perfect for Bonfire parties, and here's how to make it:


  • 100g golden syrup
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 40g butter
  • 2 tbsp water
  • ½ tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda


  1. Line a 15cm tin with baking parchment. Put the sugar, syrup, butter and water into a large heavy-based pan and set over a medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved then turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Cook, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 138°C/280°F then remove the pan from the heat.
  2. Taking care, add the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda to the pan – the mixture will bubble up and rise. 
  3. Pour into the lined tin and leave for 15-20 minutes to set
  4. Using a sharp knife, score into squares. When completely set, break along the scored lines and store in an airtight tin.

N.B. If you don't have a confectionery or sugar thermometer, you can test the mixture by dropping a small amount into cold water; if it is ready, it will become a hard toffee ball.

Bonfire Toffee

Bonfire Toffee

No Bonfire night would be complete without Bonfire Toffee! This jaw-breaking treacle toffee dates back hundreds of years and is really easy to make, but must be approached with caution; as the toffee gets very, very hot as it is boiled.


  • 75g/3oz golden syrup
  • 75g/3oz black treacle
  • 150g/6oz light soft brown sugar
  • 75g/3oz butter
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar


  1. Line a 15 x 20cm/6 x 8in baking tray with non-stick baking parchment.
  2. Measure all the ingredients into a deep, heavy-based saucepan.
  3. Place over a medium heat and stir occasionally until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved.
  4. When the mixture is smooth and well-combined, increase the heat and bring the mixture to a fast boil. When the mixture reaches 140C/285F, pour carefully into the lined tray.
  5. If you want even pieces, wait until the toffee is cool enough to handle, but elastic enough so that a finger pressed in the top leaves a slight indent (about 15-20 minutes depending on the room temperature).
  6. Partially cut the toffee into even pieces with an oiled knife. When it has cooled completely, break along these lines. Alternatively let the toffee cool completely, then break into shards with a toffee hammer or rolling pin.
  7. Store in an airtight container, with individual layers of toffee separated by baking parchment.

N.B. If left exposed to humidity, the toffee will soften and stick together.


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

24ace Pumpkin Carving Competition

It's October, the clocks have gone back and winter is finally upon us! What comes next you ask...? Halloween of course, and to celebrate all things Halloween we're hosting a Pumpkin carving contest.

What do you need to do to win?
Simply design it, carve it and display it on either our twitter page or facebook page (or both).

- FOLLOW and tag @24aceshop on your twitter post
- Use the hashtag #halloween in your post.
- OR If you're entering on our Facebook page all you need to do is comment on our Pumpkin post with a pic of your carvings! Simply head over to to enter.

And you could win this pumkin-tastic Monsteroos Beeper Plush by Gund

Monsteroos Tackle Plush by Gund
May the best Pumpkin win!

- Competition closes on the 3rd November At 12pm

See below for full terms and conditions:

The free prize draw is open to all UK residents aged 18 years or over, except employees of the promoters, its families, its agents and persons connected with the promotion.

Only one entry per person will be accepted.


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

How To Carve A Pumkpin

In anticipation for our next fabulous competition, which incidentally starts tomorrow (so watch this space) we've put together this handy 'how to' guide of how to carve a pumpkin... (can you see where our competition might be heading..? :-)

Here's how to carve a pumpkin

1. Choose a large pumpkin and use a sharp serrated knife to cut off the crown, approximately 2 inches from the stem and save for later. Always cut away from you in case the knife slips.

2. Using a large serving spoon, hollow out the pumpkin using a spoon, scooping out the seeds and fibres and then remove some of the flesh and either set all the bits to one side in case you want to try your hand at baking a pumpkin pie or making pumpkin soup later. If not simply throw it away.

3. With a marker pen, draw your outline on the pumpkin. Use either small serrated knife to cut out your design or use pumpkin carving tools if you’ve designed something more intricate.

4. Pop a tea light inside the pumpkin and light it and replace the crown. Or to add a new dimension to a simply style why not put multi coloured Christmas lights inside.

Looking of inspiration or simply want to see some extreme pumpkin carving... watch two divers compete in an underwater pumpkin carve off in the Sealife Centre in London.

Wondering what to do with the leftovers of your carving creation? Put them to good use with one of these pumpkin recipes courtesy

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Christmas Tree Ideas For Small Spaces

Have you already started planning where you put your Christmas Tree this year, or wondering where you are going to put that new bookcase to make room for your Tree? Unfortunately too much stuff and not enough space is one of the major traumas of decorating for Christmas, or if you are lucky enough to have a cavernous living room with enough room for a small forest, surely there's a compact corner crying out for a bit of festive cheer! To that end we've gathered a list of space-saving solutions for fitting alternative Christmas trees into small spaces.


Green Corner Christmas TreeGreen Corner Christmas TreeFibre Optic Corner Christmas TreeFibre Optic Corner Christmas Tree

If the only spare space you have available is in the corner of a room why not consider a corner Christmas Tree. These corner Christmas trees are available in pre-lit and un-lit styles, prices for which start from only £19.99.

These Corner Christmas Trees are perfect for smaller areas of the home, they fit easily into small corners, allowing you to make the most of your living space, while giving you all the room you need to put presents under the tree, and enjoy all the festive cheer of a traditional tree. The good news is this tree can be packed away and used year after year!

Green Pencil TreeFibre Optic Christmas Tree

Our pencil Christmas trees bring festive cheer to the tightest of spaces! They are ideal for apartments, small living rooms, or if you have space in your hallway these trees would make great hallways trees due to the narrow nature of the branches. These artificial Christmas trees retain the silhouette of a full tree while giving you more floor space to enjoy. They are available in pre-lit and unlit varieties, priced from only £12.99.

LED Pre-Lit Wall Christmas TreeFibre Optic Wall ChristmasTree

These Wall Mounted Christmas Trees allow you to have the joy of a Christmas tree without any valuable floor space being taken up. Maybe you already have a large tree but have a particular wall that is begging for some attention or a more elaborate decoration over the fireplace. The Wall mounted Christmas Tree could be the perfect item. This tree is available in LED Pre-Lit or Fibre optic.

LED Wall Tree Decoration

This LED Wall Tree Decoration is the perfect solution if you have no space to display a traditional or even a half Christmas tree, as you only require a wall and a touch of imagination. Consisting of a combination of staggered lengths of cut wood, connected with wire, which creates an illusion of a shaped Christmas tree at a height of 100cm, simply hang on the wall and it is ready to be dressed. This item comes complete with; 50 warm white LED battery lights which operate on a timer function, and also a selection of decorations to hang if and where you choose along the unit. Only £24.99

Personalised Christmas Tree Wall Sticker

If you want a Christmas tree but don't want any of the foliage, why not opt for a Personalised Christmas Tree Wall Sticker. This is a gorgeous personalised wall sticker that’s perfect for Christmas. Have your family’s name on the bottom branch of the tree. It’s the perfect finishing touch for any festive room. The sticker is easy to apply, with full instructions provided.

Shop our entire Christmas Range today at

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Are You Baking Your Own Christmas Cake This Year?

If you've been inspired by the Great British Bake Off, and want to try your hands at making a Christmas cake this year instead of buying one, then why not follow GBBO Judge Mary Berry's Classic Christmas Cake recipe

You can make Mary Berry's sherry-infused, Victorian-style Christmas cake well ahead of the big day - in fact, the longer you leave it, the better it will taste! But the recommendation is to make it at least three weeks prior to Christmas, for if eaten too early it's crumbly.

Mary Berry's Classic Christmas Cake recipe.

Serves: 12
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
(plus 3 days for soaking the fruit)
Cooking time: 4 hours
(may need an extra 15 minutes)
Total Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes
Skill Level: Bit of effort


  • 175g (6 oz) raisins
  • 350g (12 oz) glace cherries, rinsed, thoroughly dried and quartered
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) currants
  • 350g (12oz) sultanas
  • 150ml (¼ pint) sherry, plus extra for feeding
  • Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 250g (9oz) butter, softened
  • 250g (9oz) light muscovado sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp black treacle
  • 75g (3oz) blanched almonds, chopped
  • 75g (3oz) self-raising flour
  • 175g (6oz) plain flour
  • 1½ tsp mixed spice

To finish and decorate Mary Berry's Christmas cake:

  • About 3 tbsp apricot jam, sieved and warmed
  • Icing sugar
  • 675g shop-bought almond paste
  • Packet royal icing mix to cover 23cm/9in cake


  1. Put all the dried fruit in a container, pour over the sherry and stir in the orange zest. Cover with a lid, and leave to soak for 3 days, stirring daily. Grease and line a 23cm (9in) deep round tin with a double layer of greased greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 140ºC/Fan 120ºC/Gas Mark 1.
  2. Measure the butter, sugar, eggs, treacle and almonds into a very large bowl and beat well. Add the flours and mixed spice and mix thoroughly until blended. Stir in the soaked fruit. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and level the surface.
  3. Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 4-4½ hours or until the cake feels firm to the touch and is a rich golden brown. Check after 2 hours, and, if the cake is a perfect colour, cover with foil. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin.
  4. When cool, pierce the cake at intervals with a fine skewer and feed with a little extra sherry. Wrap the completely cold cake in a double layer of greaseproof paper and again in foil and store in a cool place for up to 3 months, feeding at intervals with more sherry. (Don't remove the lining paper when storing as this helps to keep the cake moist.)
  5. Decorate with almond paste and royal icing.

To prepare the Christmas cake ahead:
Prepare the fruit and soak in sherry 3 days ahead - this is essential to plump up and flavour the fruit. Make the cake and wrap as in stage 4. Store in a cool place for up to 3 months, following stage 4. You could also freeze the cake before decorating, for up to 3 months; defrost at room temperature.

Good to Know: If you don't want to use alcohol, use the same quantity of orange juice. Instead of covering with icing, you could brush warmed apricot jam over the cake, then arrange glace fruits and nuts on top.

If you're going to try your hand at baking, don't forget your bakeware! We've got all the equipment you need for the perfect results, including baking tins, measuring spoons, cake decorating kits and more! And if you want to make light work of any mixing, take a look at our range of Mixers.

Mary Berry, The Autobiography and the Great Book of Baking are also available at 24ace, as is the Danilo Great British Bake Off Family Organiser 2015, which features easy to follow seasonal recipes for all the family.

Thanks go to goodtoknow Recipes for Mary berry's Classic Christmas Cake Recipe