Countryfile’s favourite picnic bakes

There's nothing better than a quintessential British picnic, especially one full of snacks you've baked yourself. Next time you're packing your hamper make sure you include these tasty treats, says food writer Genevieve Taylor. 

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Smoked trout, watercress and horseradish quiche

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Quiches are wonderful picnic food and here is my favourite recipe. Watercress and smoked fish are an ideal marriage of flavours, and the horseradish adds a little extra bite to liven it up a touch.

Makes a 25cm quiche, serving four to six people.

YOU WILL NEED:

•           250g shortcrust pastry (bought or homemade).

For the filling:

•           1 onion, finely chopped

•           1 tbsp olive oil

•           1 bag (110g) of watercress, roughly chopped

•           2 smoked trout fillets (about 125-150g), roughly flaked

•           2 tbsp horseradish sauce

•           200g creme fraiche

•           3 large eggs

•           Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.

Lightly dust the worktop with flour and roll out the pastry to about 3-4mm thick, to fit a 25cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Using the rolling pin to help lift the pastry off the worktop, gently line the tin, pressing well into the corners but trying not to stretch it too much. Then with a swift roll over the top of the tin, cut off the excess. Line with baking paper and baking beans,  and ‘blind bake’ (baking without a filling) for 20 minutes. Remove the paper and beans  and bake for a further five minutes.

For the filling, heat the oil in a large frying pan and very gently sweat the onion until it’s soft –about 15-20 minutes. Add the watercress and cook for a few minutes. As soon as it has wilted, turn off the heat and set aside to cool.

Spread the horseradish sauce over the base of the pastry case, then spoon in the watercress mixture. Scatter the trout over the top. In a jug, beat together the eggs and creme fraiche until well combined, and season well with salt and pepper before pouring over the filling. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until the filling has set. Allow to cool before wrapping, ready to add to your picnic basket.

Freeform pork & pickle pies

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These little pork pies use a hot-water crust as a sturdy shell to support the filling, which is possibly the easiest of all pastries to make – no rubbing in and trying to keep it cool as you roll. Make the night before you picnic and serve cold, just like a traditional pork pie, except these ones have their pickle inside, rather than on the edge of your plate, making them perfect for picnics. A few salad leaves and a handful of cherry tomatoes are a great accompaniment.

Makes four generous individual pies.

YOU WILL NEED:

For the hot-water crust pastry:

•           300g plain flour

•           1 tsp fine salt

•           1 egg

•           110ml cold water

•           60g butter, diced

•           60g lard, diced

For the filling:

•           500g pork mince

•           6 rashers smoked streaky bacon, chopped

•           1 tsp dried mixed herbs

•           ½ nutmeg, freshly grated

•           4 large tsp of your favourite chutney or pickle

•           Salt & freshly ground black pepper

To make the pastry, mix the flour and salt in a mixing bowl, making a well in the centre. Crack the egg in the well and flick a little flour over to cover it completely. Add the water, butter and lard to a pan and set over a medium heat. Stir as the fats melt and as the water comes to the boil, tip into the mixing bowl, stirring well to form a soft ball. Tip onto the worktop and knead briefly for a minute then cut into four even pieces – this helps it cool quicker – and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm.

While the pastry is chilling, mix the pork, bacon, herbs and nutmeg in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Tip onto the worktop and divide into four balls. Flatten each ball to a disc of around 1cm thick and spoon the chutney into the centre, before bringing up the sides to seal it completely in the middle. Set aside on a plate.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4.

Take the pastry out of the fridge and cut about a third off each, reserving to make the lid. Using your hands, flatten the larger piece to a 5mm thick disc, then set a ball of filling in the middle. Shape the smaller piece of pastry to a 5mm disc and drape over the top of the filling to create a lid. Bring up the sides of the bottom pastry to meet the lid and press together to seal the filling inside completely. Repeat with the remaining pastry and filling, making four pies. Use a skewer to pierce a large hole in the top of each to let the steam out, and sprinkle over a few sea-salt flakes and grind of pepper.

Spread on a baking sheet and cook for about an hour until the pastry is crisp and golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Stilton scones with walnut & tarragon butter

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A delicious savoury take on a classic, these are best made the day you eat them (with scones, it’s always a case of the fresher the better) but they do freeze very well if you want to make them in advance. The butter needs time to chill and firm, so I make this the day before. 

Makes about 10.

YOU WILL NEED:

For the walnut & tarragon butter:

•           75g walnut pieces

•           75g cold butter

•           A small bunch tarragon, leaves picked & chopped

•           Salt & freshly ground black pepper

For the scones:

•           350g self raising flour

•           40g butter, cut in 1cm cubes

•           200g stilton, crumbled

•           100ml milk

•           2 large eggs

•           Pinch of salt & pepper to taste

Add the walnuts to a food processor and whizz to crumbs. Add the butter, tarragon and season with salt and pepper, then blend to a paste. Scrape on a piece of baking paper and roll up into a cylinder, twisting the ends as you go. Chill in the fridge to firm up for at least an hour, or preferably overnight.

To make the scones, preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C/gas 6. Add the flour and butter to a food processor and pulse a few times until they resemble rough crumbs. You can also do this by hand by quickly rubbing together between your thumbs and fingers. Add most of the stilton, reserving a little for the tops, and mix through either by pulsing again in the food processor, or simply stirring through if you are making by hand.

Measure the milk in a jug then crack in the eggs, season with a little salt and pepper and lightly whisk. Pour into the flour mixture and pulse once more until the mixture comes together as a rough ball, or stir through with a metal spoon. Tip onto a lightly floured worktop and roll out into a disc of about 2cm thick. Use a 6cm round cutter to cut out as many scones as you can, laying on a baking sheet as you go, then reroll the offcuts and cut again. Dot the tops with a little of the reserved stilton, then bake in the hot oven for around  15 minutes until golden brown.

Apple & blackberry crumble squares

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Like the best-ever fruit crumble in a cuttable, transportable bar. What’s not to love?

Makes about 15 squares. 

YOU WILL NEED:

•           2 medium cooking apples (about 550-600g  whole weight), peeled, cored & diced

•           150g blackberries

•           2-3 tbsp granulated sugar, to taste

•           100ml water

•           200g butter, softened

•           200g light brown sugar

•           200g self raising flour

•           1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

•           150g porridge oats

You also need a 20×30 cm tin, about 2cm deep, greased & lined with baking paper.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.

Add the apple, blackberries, sugar and water to a medium pan. Cover and simmer gently until soft – about 8-10 minutes. Set aside.

Whizz together the butter and sugar in a food processor until creamed. Add the flour and bicarbonate of soda and pulse until combined;  the mixture will be quite crumbly. Lastly, add  the oats and pulse again until mixed.

Tip about two thirds of the crumble mix into  the prepared tin and press down well with the  back of a spoon. Spread the fruit all over the  base evenly. Sprinkle over the remaining crumble mixture then bake for 25 minutes until the top  is crisp and golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin before cutting into squares.

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WORDS: Genevieve Taylor, IMAGES: Jason Ingram