Whether enjoyed in one of London’s Royal Parks, in the middle of the countryside or on a stretch of charming coastline, an outdoor picnic (with all the trimmings) is a much-loved British tradition. And while the very first London Pic-Nic Society was formed in 1801, dining al fresco has gained a new level of importance for friends and families in Britain in 2020 too.
Brimming with sandwiches, scones, and other treats, these finger-food extravaganzas are a fun way of enjoying a socially-distanced get together. So dig out that picnic blanket and get creative in the kitchen, for a British-themed dining experience to remember.
There are a number of theories as to the origin of the Scotch egg, from its creation at London’s luxury department store Fortnum & Mason in the 18th century, to more humble beginnings in the coastal city of Whitby in Yorkshire in the late 19th century. Wherever these savoury snacks hail from, one thing is certain: this British classic makes for an utterly sumptuous picnic treat…
Made by wrapping breaded meat around a boiled egg, Scotch eggs can be enjoyed hot, cold or with a touch of mustard.
6 eggs (large if possible)
2 beaten eggs
20g (7/8 cup) thyme
20g (7/8 cup) parsley
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
300g (1 ½ cups) minced meat
400g (1 ¾ cups) skinned sausages
Pinch of salt and ground pepper
1 teaspoon English mustard powder
Flour (for coating the eggs)
100g (1 cup) dried breadcrumbs
Oil for cooking
To prevent cracking, carefully pierce the eggs with a needle and place in a saucepan to boil for five minutes. Once cooked, run under a cold tap and gently peel from their shells.
Next, mix the sausage meat with the minced meat in a large bowl, along with the Worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, and the herbs. Season with salt and pepper and mix until combined. Spread the contents of the bowl evenly on baking paper and cut into six squares. Coat each of the eggs with flour and then place one on each of the meat sections, wrapping around the egg entirely. The encased eggs then need to be coated with the flour, followed by the beaten egg and finally the breadcrumbs.
Pour oil into a high-edged frying pan until five centimetres deep, and heat. Place each of the eggs into the hot oil using a utensil and being mindful of splashes/spitting. Rotate onto each side once golden, until completely cooked. This should take around seven minutes, depending on the temperature of the oil.
Top tip: Use cling film to help wrap the meat mix around the egg.
Created by Le Cordon Bleu chef Rosemary Hume to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation lunch in 1953, this dish is enjoyed by royals and street party-throwing Brits alike! A quintessential British classic to add to any picnic, it can spice up a simple salad or work as a delicious sandwich filling.
6 tablespoons of mayonnaise
3 teaspoons of mild curry powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons of mango chutney
2 tablespoons of sultanas
500g (4 cups) cooked, shredded chicken
Mix all the ingredients, except the shredded chicken, together in a large mixing bowl to make a thick sauce. Once combined, mix with the chicken. Add to a simple bed of salad leaves or spread between two slices of bread to create a delicious picnic sandwich.
Although hailing from Germany, potato salad is a popular addition to any British picnic. There are many delicious variations to this traditional recipe, but here is a simple way to produce a potato salad that is regularly gobbled up across Britain.
400g (2 2/3 cups) white potatoes (peeled or with skins left on, as preferred)
2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon chopped dill or chives
1 tablespoon of chopped spring onion
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 boiled egg
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon mustard (preferably Dijon)
Pinch of salt
Start by chopping the potatoes into bite-size chunks and boil in a saucepan of seasoned water. Once soft, drain and put back into the saucepan to steam for a few minutes. Slice the boiled egg into small pieces and add to the steaming potatoes. Next add the mayonnaise, chopped fresh herbs, mustard and salt. Carefully stir until combined.
Transfer the potato salad into a bowl and leave to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes – after this the salad is ready for the picnic basket!
If you have visited the perpetually pink Peggy Porschen in west London, you’ll know how seriously cupcakes are taken in Britain. Although originating in America, fairy cakes (as they are often called) are a dainty and delicious addition to any outdoor feast. Why not go full Anglophile and add blue and red food colouring to your frosting mix to create a Union Jack themed sweet treat?
150g (2/3 cup) butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
300g (3 cups) icing sugar
2-3 tablespoons of milk
1 or 2 drops of food colouring, depending on the desired effect
110g (1/2 cup) butter
110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
110g self-raising flour (1 cup) - this can also work with plain flour by adding a teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F, Gas Mark 4), and place 12 paper cupcake cases on a baking tray. Grab a large mixing bowl and use a hand whisk or electric mixer to combine the butter and sugar until fluffy. Next, slowly add the eggs and vanilla extract, mixing for a few minutes more. Add the salt and continue to gradually add the flour into the mix, stirring continuously. Once the ingredients are fully mixed, carefully spoon into the cases and place into the oven. They will only take 15 minutes to turn golden brown, but use the skewer test to make sure they are fully baked through – a clear skewer poked in the middle of a cake means they are done.
While the cakes bake, make a start on the buttercream frosting. Start by mixing the room temperature butter with a hand mixer or wooden spoon until fluffy. Sieve the icing sugar into the butter and add the vanilla extract. Once mixed, add the milk and continue to beat for a few more minutes. Separate the mix into three and stir in the food colouring to create the red, white and blue colour scheme.
Golden brown and brimming with golden syrup, the oat flapjack is a picnic pudding loved throughout the nation. The word flapjack has been used in Britain since the 16th century, with Shakespeare himself mentioning ‘flap-jacks’ in Pericles, Prince of Tyre, as reference to a common English pudding. However, the dish we know and love today was not created until 1935.
600g (6 cups) porridge oats
300g (1 1/3 cups) butter or margarine
250g (just under 3/4 of a cup) Golden Syrup
200g (1 cup) caster sugar
Handful of sultanas (optional)
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
Line a baking tray with butter or greaseproof paper and pre-heat the oven to 180°C (356°F, Gas Mark 4). Pour the sugar, syrup and butter into a saucepan and heat slowly, stirring until they are melted and combined. Take the pan off the heat and add the oats, cinnamon and sultanas, mixing until the ingredients have bound together. Spread onto the baking tray and pat down. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and cut into equal pieces while hot, leaving to cool before enjoying.