Thursday, 12 August 2010

Home made honeycomb... a blast from the past... ...

As a family we have been trying to save money in general and make use of things that you can find around and about. Like fruit that grows out in the wild, so to speak, this time it's blackberries, we managed to pick a kilo and a half the other day, and we saw a load of baby and adult common lizards, which was a bonus.

We have been looking at things you can make yourself, rather than buy, and as we are finding most of the time things you make yourself taste better and are better for you, and cheaper, which is always good.

My wife was looking for recipes that use blackberries and whilst she was looking she found a recipe for home made honeycomb, or cinder toffee as it's also known (in America ?) I remember eating loads of this stuff when I was a kid, it was one of my favourite sweets, still is if I'm honest.

I had to give it a go and make some myself, so I did, it was great fun :-) and easy to do.

What you will need -

  • 200grams of caster sugar.
  • golden syrup - you will need 4 tablespoons for this.
  • 3 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda.
  • Some water in a tub,cup (all will be revealed)
  • A fairly deep sided baking tray.
  • Some grease proof paper, or you could just grease the baking tray really well.
  • A medium sized saucepan.
  • A wooden spoon, or similar stirring implement.
  • If you have one a sugar thermometer would be handy.
  • A tablespoon of water.
The method is pretty simple.

Put the 200grams of caster sugar,4 tablespoons of syrup and the 1 tablespoon of water into the saucepan.

Heat the saucepan until the contents start to melt, bring to the boil and make sure you keep stirring.
Then simmer on a low heat for about 10 - 15 minutes, now you need to keep an eye on the mixture to make sure it doesn't burn, this is where the sugar thermometer is handy, it should read about 138°C

Test the mixture by dropping a little into the tub of water, if it goes hard then it's ready for the next step.

Right this is where it gets fun, add the bicarbonate of soda, it helps if you weigh this out first and put it into a tub or something, the reaction is pretty quick and having to weigh stuff out while things are foaming all over the place isn't ideal.

The mixture will start to foam a lot, so the deeper the baking try the better really (or you could use less bicarbonate of soda) keep stirring and make sure it's all well mixed, you will need to be pretty quick as the mixture will be cooling, pour it into the baking try, don't worry if you get some on the work top, it comes off easily, but make sure you don't get any on yourself, hot sugar and skin don't mix, and it hurts.

Let it cool some where out of the way, it will take a while, which will give you time to tidy up. Once it's set hard just get it out of the try and break it into bits, you can store it in an air tight jar.

Here's a picture of how it looked - 

Blast from the past.

I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out, seeing as it's the first time I've tried to make it, everyone seems to like it, and I tried some crushed on top of our home made blackberry ice cream, really nice.

Now here are some things I'm going to change when I make the next batch. Firstly the amount of bicarbonate of soda, I'm going to see if it still foams up enough with just two teaspoons, secondly I think I may have left it a little too long in the pan, so next time I'm going to check the mixture while it's cooking at regular intervals, and as soon as it goes hard when dropped into water I will mix the bicarb in, the other thing is that the tray I used wasn't quite deep enough, and a fair bit ended up on the work top, so a deeper tin is a good idea, and lastly, next time I make it I will do away with the grease proof paper and just grease the tray really well, the paper can be a bit of a pain to get off.

As for cleaning when you've finished, it's easy enough, just use some hot water and some washing up liquid, it's not hard to clean the saucepan or the work top, and it's worth it for a nice treat.

Thanks for reading.

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