Perfect picnics are a piece of cake
Its summertime and one of the best ways to make the most of those elusive sunny days is to pack a picnic and eat al fresco. What could be more quintessentially British than to find an idyllic spot, unfurl a rug and lay out a traditional feast with lashings of ginger beer (or ice cold fizz for the grown ups) with a delicious farmhouse cake to finish?
Whether it’s a romantic meal a deux, a family outing with the kids or a fun excursion with friends, there are certain rules to creating the perfect picnic.
First of all you need to choose the ideal location. If you are catering for small children that could just be your back garden or the local park, but if you want to travel further afield then the National Trust has a list of the best picnic spots in the UK so you can search for one near you.
There are a huge range of picnic hampers and boxes available, from beautiful, traditional wicker baskets to high tech backpacks. Whatever you opt for, unless you are driving all the way, choose something that’s easy to carry. Plastic cups and cutlery and paper plates also help to keep the weight (and washing up) down.
Make sure that all your containers are properly closed, to avoid leaks, and if you have any particularly smelly ingredients, like a garlic dressing or ripe cheese, make sure they are wrapped up tight, or your whole picnic will become saturated with their scent.
Don’t forget a comfortable blanket, ideally with a waterproof backing to sit on. If you can carry them, folding chairs will ensure older picnickers will enjoy the day a whole lot more.
Planning your picnic menu
Then it’s on to the main event – the food. Your menu will vary depending on who you’re catering for, but a good selection of savoury treats and a traditional cake or two are always crowd pleasers.
You could opt for simple, classics like ham, cheese and pickle, smoked salmon and cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches, sausage rolls, Scotch eggs, sweet cherry tomatoes and celery sticks. Great for picky little eaters and nostalgic grown-ups alike.
Another great option is to buy or bake a savoury pie. BBC Good Food has a great recipe for a Picnic Pie, packed with sausagemeat, apple and ham that you can cook and cool ahead of your outing. Of course the classic picnic dish is a quiche, a pastry case filled with baked savoury custard and any number of ingredients from salmon and broccoli to the traditional bacon and onion Quiche Lorraine.
Again you can make these yourself, but it’s easy to pick one up at the supermarket.
To make things really simple, just pop to the deli counter and pick up some ripe cheeses, pate, add a fresh baguette, a few dips and a boxed salad and you have a ready made feast in moments.
A handy tip to keep salads and sandwiches from going soggy, is to pack dressings and wetter fillings, like sliced tomatoes, separately and assemble on the spot.
Given that the whole point of a picnic is to enjoy the warm weather, you have to pay attention to food safety and make sure you pack your picnic hamper with plenty of ice packs to keep food cool and stop it from going off. Keep everything in the cool until you are ready to eat it, so your picnic isn’t sitting in the baking sunshine for too long.
Another good tip is to pack antibacterial wipes or gel to clean hands before you eat, and to wipe up any spillages along the way. Don’t forget sunscreen and insect repellant too.
Bring along a bin bag to pack up all your rubbish to keep the countryside clean.
Keep cool on a hot summers day with a good supply of drinks. If you are taking along water, ready mixed cordials or juice, you can freeze beforehand so it will be thawed and chilled when you arrive. Your frozen drinks will also help to keep your picnic cool.
Just don’t freeze drinks in glass bottles or cans as these can break as liquid expands when it freezes.
The British weather being what it is, a flask of tea or coffee, can also be a good addition just in case the day turns cooler.
The sweetest thing
No British picnic would be complete without cake and that’s because we are famous for our delicious baked treats. Yorkshire has a particularly proud tradition for mouthwatering farmhouse cakes and now anyone can enjoy our traditional bakes as part of their picnic.
Whether it’s golden Butter Madeira Loaf Cake, a wedge of Rich Fruit Cake paired with chunk of British cheddar, a slice of Tea Loaf Cake slathered in butter or satisfyingly sweet Cherry and Almond Loaf Cake, a piece of cake gives any picnic that delicious Famous Five feel, that no one can resist.
We can deliver a whole range of traditional mail order cakes direct to your door, so browse our range to discover all our delicious fruit cakes and choose the perfect sweet treats to complete your perfect picnic.