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Great British bakes for picnics and adventures

DairyDairy • • Jul 16, 2021 • 10 min read

Plotting Britain's bakes on a map


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Whether you enjoy finding a beautiful picnic spot or prefer to re-fuel on the go, food is likely to be something you think about when planning outdoor activities. Tasty snacks are especially good at providing a much-needed boost, both mentally and physically.

We've rounded up ten of the most delicious British treats from the Around Britain Cookbook so you can try your hands at baking some regional specialities, old and new. Each recipe will make a good-sized batch for you to share with your adventure buddies or pop it in the freezer for your next day out.

Cornish Pasties - Cornwall

Over the years, the pasty has become synonymous with Cornwall. Back in the day, it was a popular Cornish miner’s lunch with meat and potato at one end and jam or fruit at the other. This recipe for mini, savoury pasties is ideal for a light lunch or snack and are fairly robust should they work their way to the bottom of your bag.

Ingredients

Makes 4

  • Potato 1, peeled and very finely diced
  • Swede 1, peeled and very finely diced
  • Small onion 1, peeled and very finely diced
  • Lean beef skirt 225g (8oz), trimmed and cut into small pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Shortcrust pastry 450g (1lb)
  • Egg 1, beaten

Cornish Pasties - Cornwall 

Cornish Pasties

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7. Mix together the potato, carrot, onion and steak and season well.

2 Roll out the pastry thinly on a lightly floured surface. Cut three saucer-sized circles, then use the trimmings to make a fourth. Divide the meat and vegetables between each circle and brush the edges with egg.

3 Bring up the edges of each pasty to meet at the top. Crimp together the edges by pinching gently with the finger and thumb to seal.

4 Place on a baking sheet and brush all over with beaten egg. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and cook for a further 15–20 minutes until golden and cooked through. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving with cherry tomatoes.

Birmingham Bacon Cake - Birmingham

These Brummy ‘cakes’ were served at country fairs in late Victorian times. They make a great brunch snack served warm, split and buttered on their own, or topped with scrambled egg, setting you up nicely for a day out on the hills. They can also be cut in half, layered with butter and wrapped for a yummy lunch on the go.

Ingredients

Serves 8

  • Streaky bacon 5 rashers, de-rinded
  • Self-raising flour 225g (8oz)
  • Butter 25g (1oz)
  • Mature Cheddar cheese 75g (3oz), grated
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Milk 150ml (1⁄4 pint), plus a little for glazing
  • Tomato ketchup 1 tbsp
  • Worcestershire sauce 1 tsp

Birmingham Bacon Cake

Birmingham Bacon Cake

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 and grease a baking sheet. Grill or dry fry the bacon until crisp, drain on kitchen paper and then crumble or chop it into small pieces.
  • Put the flour into a mixing bowl. Rub in the butter then add the bacon, half the grated cheese and some seasoning.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the milk with the ketchup and Worcestershire sauce and add to the dry ingredients to make a soft dough.
  • On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough gently to a round then press it out with your hand to a circle about 18cm (7in) diameter. Place on the baking sheet and score into eight wedges.
  • Brush a little milk over the top (just use your finger). Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for 20–25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and serve warm or cool.

Scottish Oatcakes - Scotland

The climate in Scotland is perfect for oat growing, which means that oats and oatmeal feature in many of the national dishes. Scottish oatcakes are excellent with cheese and chutney so why not try making your own. They are very simple to create and make a luxurious picnic.

Ingredients

Makes 12

  • Medium oatmeal 110g (4oz), plus extra for rolling
  • Salt 1⁄4 tsp
  • Bicarbonate of soda 1⁄4 tsp
  • Lard 25g (1oz)
  • Boiling water 2–3 tbsp

Scottish Oatcakes

Scottish Oatcakes

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and grease a baking sheet. Put the oatmeal, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl.
  2. In a small saucepan, gently heat the lard until it has melted. Quickly pour enough of the liquid into the dry ingredients with the water to make a smooth dough.
  3. Sprinkle some oatmeal onto a surface and roll out the dough to about 3mm (1⁄8in) thick. Then, using a 7.5cm (3in) round cutter, cut out 12 rounds, re-rolling the dough if necessary.
  4. Place on the baking sheet and cook in the oven for around 20 minutes, until crisp. Serve lightly buttered with cheese, jam or Scottish heather honey.

Grantham Gingerbreads - Grantham, Lincolnshire

In the 1740s, a baker in Grantham, Lincolnshire, was making Grantham whetstones – a hard flat biscuit, offered to travellers for their journey. The story goes that he got the recipe wrong, and that’s how Grantham gingerbreads were invented! These are great at stuffing in your pockets on a trail run or sharing a big patch with friends.

Ingredients

Makes 30

  • Butter 100g (31⁄2oz), softened
  • Caster sugar 250g (9oz)
  • Egg 1
  • Self-raising flour 250g (9oz)
  • Ground ginger 1 tsp

Grantham Gingerbreads

Grantham Gingerbreads

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to150°C/300°F/Gas 2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and then beat in the egg. Sift in the flour and ginger.
  2. Mix well to bind the mixture together and form into small balls – 1 tbsp of mixture per ball. Place spaced apart on two or three non-stick or lightly greased baking sheets as they spread while cooking.
  3. Bake for 25–35 minutes (in batches if necessary) until just lightly browned. Leave on the baking sheet for a minute and then cool on a wire rack.

Shrewsbury Biscuits - Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Originally made in 1760 by a Mr Palin in Shropshire, these biscuits were bought as gifts by visitors in much the same way as shortbread in Scotland or clotted cream in Devon. They have a light texture and lemony flavour and are very simple to prepare. If you're in need of a sugar boost but don't want anything too heavy then these are a great choice.

Ingredients

  • Butter 110g (4oz)
  • Caster sugar 150g (5oz), plus extra for
  • sprinkling
  • Egg yolks 2
  • Plain flour 225g (8oz)
  • Lemon 1, finely grated rind only
  • Chopped dried fruit 50g (2oz)

Shrewsbury Biscuits

Shrewsbury Biscuits

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and butter two non- stick baking sheets.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy and add the egg yolks and beat well. Add the flour, lemon rind and fruit and mix to a fairly firm dough.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, knead lightly and then roll out to about 5mm (1⁄4in) thick. Cut out 6.5cm (21⁄2in) rounds with a fluted cutter and place on the baking sheets. Sprinkle with a little extra caster sugar.
  4. Bake for 12–15 minutes until lightly browned and firm to the touch. Transfer to wire racks to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Wet Nellie - Liverpool

This is the local ‘affectionate’ name for a Liverpudlian speciality – Lord Nelson cake: a pastry case enclosing a mixture of cake crumbs, dried fruit and golden syrup – a bit like golden syrup tart. It is moist and quite sweet, so don’t stint on the lemon juice. These are great for multi-day adventures where other breads/bakes may go a little dry.

Ingredients

Makes 6

  • Ready-made shortcrust pastry 500g (1lb 2oz)
  • Madeira cake 250g (9oz)
  • Lemon 1 large, grated rind and juice
  • Raisins or currants 110g (4oz)
  • Golden syrup 110g (4oz), warmed
  • Milk 5 tbsp
  • Caster sugar 1 tsp

Wet Nellie - Liverpool

Wet Nellie

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5 and put a baking sheet in the oven to heat up.
  2. Take off a third of the pastry and set aside. Roll out the larger piece fairly thinly to a round to line six 10cm (4in) loose- bottomed fluted flan tins. Trim off excess pastry round the top and keep the trimmings.
  3. Crumble the cake into a bowl. Add the lemon rind and juice, raisins or currants, syrup and 4 tbsp of the milk. Mix well and spoon into the pastry cases, smoothing the top.
  4. Add the trimmings to reserved pastry and roll out thinly to cut rounds just big enough to make the lids. Trim off excess pastry and press the edges gently to seal. Brush the tops with the rest of the milk. Sprinkle with caster sugar.
  5. Place the tarts on the hot baking sheet and bake for 20–25 minutes until they are golden brown. Leave to cool in the tins for at least 10 minutes. Remove and serve warm or they are just as delicious eaten cold.

Somerset Apple Cake - Somerset

This exceptionally popular cake is moist and scrumptious. Both Somerset and Dorset claim to have been responsible for its creation. Pull this out at a picnic to wow your friends and family. Best enjoyed with a cup of tea!

Ingredients

Serves 10

  • Butter 110g (4oz)
  • Dark soft brown sugar 175g (6oz)
  • Eggs 2, beaten
  • Plain wholemeal flour 225g (8oz)
  • Mixed spice 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon 1 tsp
  • Baking powder 2 tsp
  • Cooking apples 450g (1lb), peeled, cored and chopped
  • Unsweetened apple juice 3–4 tbsp
  • Light demerara sugar 2 tbsp

Somerset Apple Cake

Somerset Apple Cake

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas 3 and grease and line an 18cm (7in) round cake tin.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour, spices and baking powder and mix well. Fold in the apples and enough apple juice to make a soft dropping consistency.
  3. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin, sprinkle with demerara sugar and bake for 11⁄4–11⁄2 hours, until well risen and firm to the touch. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Singin Hinnies - Tyneside, North East

‘Hinny’ is a corruption of honey, a Tyneside term of endearment referring to children and young women. These ‘hinnies’ are cooked on a grid iron and got their name from the ‘singing’ sound they make as they cook. In the 19th century, silver threepenny pieces were inserted in the cakes, especially for the children at birthday parties. These travel well, that's if you can resist eating them all when they are hot off the griddle!

Ingredients

Serves 9

  • Plain flour 250g (8oz)
  • Bicarbonate of soda 1⁄8 tsp
  • Cream of tartar 1⁄4 tsp
  • Salt 1⁄4 tsp
  • Butter 75g (3oz)
  • Sultanas 75g (3oz)
  • Milk 7 tbsp

 Singin Hinnies - Tyneside, North East 

Singin Hinnies

  • Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar and salt into a large bowl. Rub in the butter then add the sultanas. Mix in enough milk to give a soft dough.
  • Put a griddle pan or heavy-based frying pan on a low heat to heat up. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to only just over 5mm (1⁄4in) thick. Cut out 7cm (23⁄4in) rounds, re-rolling the trimmings to make more cakes.
  • Lightly butter the griddle or pan and cook the rounds for 4 minutes until patched brown underneath then turn and cook for another 4 minutes. You may need to do this in two batches if your pan is small. Serve hot with butter, jam or clotted cream.

Maids of Honour - Hampton Court, Richmond

These dainty afternoon teacakes were given their name by Henry VIII after he was offered a cake in the gardens of Hampton Court Palace by one of Catherine of Aragon’s ladies, known as maids of honour. It is said that one of those maids was Anne Boleyn, who subsequently became his second Queen. Have your self a very royal picnic, best served with a glass of fizz!

Ingredients

Makes 24

  • Shortcrust pastry 500g packet
  • Curd cheese 227g tub
  • Eggs 2 large
  • Soft light brown sugar 110g (4oz)
  • Single cream 4 tbsp
  • Brandy, orange flower water or rosewater 2 tbsp
  • Ground almonds 150g (5oz)
  • Seedless raisins 50g (2oz), finely chopped
  • Caster or icing sugar for sifting

Maids of Honour - Hampton Court, Richmond

Maids of Honour

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7. Roll the pastry out very thinly – just a little thinner than a one penny piece. Using an 8.5cm (31⁄4in) fluted or plain round cutter, stamp out 24 rounds from the pastry, re-folding and re-rolling the trimmings if necessary.
  2. Line two deep-hole bun tin trays (each hole approximately 6.5cm wide/2cm deep) with the pastry rounds. Chill while making the filling.
  3. Place the curd cheese, eggs, sugar, cream, brandy or flower water and almonds in a mixing bowl and beat well together with a whisk. Mix in the raisins and then spoon into the pastry cases.
  4. Bake the tarts for 15–20 minutes until well risen, golden brown and feel firm to the touch. Allow the maids of honour to cool a little and then carefully remove them onto a wire rack to cool completely. Sift with icing or caster sugar and serve.

Brighton Rock Cakes - Brighton

These craggy cakes are meant to look like rocks and the mixture needs to be quite dry to give the rough appearance. Don’t be tempted to add any liquid or the buns will spread out. Best served with butter and wrapped tightly, else you'll have a bag full of crumbs!

Ingredients

Makes 12

  • Self-raising flour 250g (9oz)
  • Butter 75g (3oz)
  • Dried mixed fruit 75g (3oz)
  • Caster sugar 75g (3oz), plus extra for sprinkling
  • Egg 1 Salt pinch

Brighton Rock Cakes - Brighton 

Brighton Rock Cakes

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5 and butter a baking sheet.
  2. Sift the flour into a bowl. Cut the butter into pieces and then rub it into the flour. Stir in the fruit, sugar, egg and salt. Use a fork to work the mixture together into a stiff dough. Divide the mixture into 12 roughly shaped balls and place them on the buttered baking sheet. Roughen the surface of the cakes with a fork. Sprinkle a little extra caster sugar over the cakes.
  3. Bake the cakes in the centre of the oven for 12–15 minutes until they are a light golden colour. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool. Store the cakes in an airtight container for up to three days.


Anglesey Cakes - Anglesey, Wales

It was customary for children in Anglesey to receive small cakes when they went ‘first footing’. They sang a short verse to wish their neighbours a Happy New Year and the cakes would be a thankful gift. Although they are referred to as cakes (or, in Welsh, teisienau sir fon), they are much more like very short biscuits - which make them great for dunking in tea! Make it into a jammy dodger by adding jam to the middle.

Ingredients

Makes 10

  • Plain flour 250g (9oz)
  • Salt pinch
  • Butter 110g (4oz)
  • Currants 50g (2oz)
  • Light muscovado sugar 2 tbsp
  • Milk 3–4 tbsp
  • Caster sugar for sprinkling

Anglesey Cakes

Anglesey Cakes

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Butter a baking sheet.
  • Sift the flour into a bowl and add the salt. Rub in the butter, then stir in the currants and sugar. Add the milk and bind to form a dough. Knead the dough lightly on a floured surface and then roll it out to about 1cm (1⁄2in) thick.
  • Use a 5cm (2in) cutter to cut out rounds and place them on the baking sheet. Re-roll and cut trimmings as necessary. Sprinkle caster sugar over the tops. Cook in the centre of the oven for 15–18 minutes. These will keep in an airtight container for up to three days.

Westmorland Pepper Cake - South Cumbria

The North West region of England produces a huge variety of fruit cakes. This version from southern Cumbria is unusual, with the addition of pepper, but especially tasty. This hearty snack is perfect for winter walks.

Ingredients

Serves 12

  • Butter 75g (3oz)
  • Raisins 75g (3oz)
  • Currants 75g (3oz)
  • Caster sugar 110g (4oz)
  • Self-raising flour 225g (8oz)
  • Ground ginger 1⁄2 tsp
  • Ground cloves 1⁄2 tsp
  • Finely ground black pepper 1⁄2 tsp
  • Milk 4 tbsp
  • Egg 1, beaten

Westmorland Pepper Cake

Westmorland Pepper Cake

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and grease and line a deep 18cm (7in) round cake tin.
  2. Put the butter, fruit, sugar and 150ml (1⁄4 pint) water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes and then leave to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, spices and pepper. Gently stir in the fruit mixture, milk and egg. Mix thoroughly, without beating.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes, until firm and golden brown. Turn out and leave to cool on a wire rack.

All these snacks are suitable for most outdoor activities, just wrap them up and pop them into your backpack, dry bag, saddle bag - you name it! Try to keep food at the top of your bag so it doesn't get squashed but if it does, it's still going to taste just as good!

Find more traditional British recipes like these in the Around Britain Cookbook.

Published: Jul 16, 2021 Edited: Jul 28, 2021

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