Just last week was Guy Fawkes day. It is an annual commemoration observed on November 5, primarily in Great Britain. Its history begins with the events of November 5, 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure.
Settlers who came over to Newfoundland brought this tradition of lighting bonfires and it has continued ever since. The town of Grand Falls-Windsor hosts a bonfire night and it has become quite the celebration. People donate their wood and paper and a large bonfire is created, safely away from people’s houses. Bonfire night is another ‘old world’ tradition that Newfoundland keeps alive.
Some rural communities also have bonfires with no connection to Guy Fawkes. There may be a connection to ancient pagan customs instead. In Great Britain fires would be lit for Samhain (pronounced Saw-win) to appease the Celtic gods and bring light back to the dying sun. Samhain becomes our modern Halloween, so it’s easy for the bonfire tradition to blend together, being only five days apart.
Because I’ve been playing around with molasses and apples and made the apple pandowdy, I found another great recipe you can carry with you. These apple caramel bars are perfect as a snack sitting by the bonfire or later in the year when your bonfire is indoors. (Note: I mean your fireplace. Please, for the love of God, don’t make a bonfire in your house. Are ya stunned?) These bars are moist and chewy from the oatmeal and the molasses gives it that unique Newfoundland taste.
Preheat your oven to 350F. Combine flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, and baking soda in a bowl. Add melted butter and molasses. Mix until combined. Press about half of the mixture into a parchment lined 9X13 pan. Make sure to have the parchment come up the sides. It will be easier to remove later. Press down to make even layer, extending completely to all sides. Bake for eight minutes. Remove from oven to let cool slightly.
Peel, core, and slice apples. I used Granny Smiths because I like the tartness against the sweetness of the molasses and caramel. If you want to change it up, just make sure it’s a good baking apple. Place apples on top of baked oatmeal layer.
Remove lid from caramel sauce and microwave for 30 seconds to one minute. This will make it easier to pour over apples. Use a glove to remove sauce from microwave. This is warmed sugar. It can get very warm. Pour evenly over the apples. If needed spread the sauce so it covers most of the apple layer. I used President’s Choice Dulce de Leche sauce, but any caramel sauce will do. Sobey’s has a Whiskey Caramel sauce which would be lovely.
Add remaining 1/2 cup flour to the leftover half of oatmeal mixture and combine. Sprinkle topping on the caramel, remembering to cover all the dessert. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Let cool on rack completely before removing from pan. If you like you can cool in the fridge and then cut. If so, let it warm to room temperature before serving. Enjoy as a bar, or cut larger pieces and serve with whipped cream.
Apple Caramel Oatmeal Bars
- 2 cups All purpose flour
- 2 cups quick cooking oats
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup butter melted
- 1/2 cup fancy molasses
- 3 cups apples sliced thinly
- 1 jar caramel sauce
- 1/2 cup All purpose flour
Combine flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, and baking soda in large bowl or mixer.
Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl. Add molasses to butter to combine. Add oatmeal/flour mixture and mix until no flour is showing.
Press about half of the mixture into a prepare 9x13 pan lined with parchment. Make sure there's an even layer going all the way to the sides of the pan. Bake for eight minutes in a 350F oven. Remove and let cool slightly.
Peel, core, and slice 3 cups of apples. Place sliced apples on cooled, baked oatmeal layer. Spread evenly.
Microwave jarred caramel sauce until it's soft enough to pour: about 30 seconds to one minute. You want the sauce to still be thick, so soft enough to pour and spread. Pour evenly over apples.
Add 1/2 cup flour to remained oatmeal mixture. Mix until flour is incorporated. Crumble mixture on top of caramel/apples layer. Make sure to coat evenly and cover the top completely. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting into bars. Makes 32.