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Wartime toffee

Tray toffee... a Bonfire Night treat
Tray toffee... a Bonfire Night treat

Jaw-breaking sweets

Toffee always reminds me of autumn, especially Halloween and Bonfire Night. Here are two recipes from my Mam’s schooldays in the early 1950s, when they were barely out of rationing.

These are traditional recipes, pre-dating the war, but they’ve always been called that in our family (it doesn’t specify which war).

Between the rust stains from the staples and the ink blots, you can just about make out recipes for toffee (with vinegar, strange but true) and cinder toffee, which hurts the roof of your mouth if you eat too much of it.

If you’re having trouble with your teeth, avoid these at all costs.

Tray toffee

Toffee recipe
All blots and rust…
  • 4oz sugar
  • 1 tablespoon syrup
  • Small knob of margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water

Grease a tin.

Measure all ingredients into a pan. Place on a low heat and dissolve gently. Bring slowly to the boil.

Boil until a little of the mixture sets hard into a ball in a cup of cold water.

Pour into the tin and when warm, mark into squares, as it’s a devil to get out.

Cinder toffee (with bubbles)

Toffee recipe
… this one’s no better

Grease a tin.

Put into a pan 2 level tablespoons of syrup and 2 rounded tablespoons of sugar.

Measure half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda on to a spoon, add it to the pan and dissolve slowly over a low heat.

Bring to boil and boil for 4 minutes (DO NOT STIR).

Remove from heat and sieve in quickly 1 level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. Stir in. Pour into a greased tin and leave to set.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.