Picnic Slice

Picnic Slice basically lives up to its name, a perfectly portable treat to slip into your picnic basket for days out. Naturally gluten-free by eschewing all flour and focusing on its coconut macaroon-like tendencies, these are light, packed with fruit and nuts and covered in plenty of chocolate.

Picnic Slice - gluten-free and packed with coconut, pistachios, and glace cherries covered with melted chocolate.

When the weather is good, the inclination to picnic is ever so tempting. I have romantic notions of a tartan rug strewn politely across lush grass, an iced bucket housing a chilling fizz, bountiful strawberries, an array of carefully curated salads fresh with herbs and leaves. Perhaps a roasted chicken takes centre stage, with carefully carved slices fanned out on delicate china. I might have been influenced by a little too much Merchant Ivory.

Picnic Slice - gluten-free and packed with coconut, pistachios, and glace cherries covered with melted chocolate.

The reality of picnics of course, especially in the UK, is laughably different. First off, if you are not dissuaded by the ominous clouds which will no doubt appear as soon as the magic words of picnic are uttered then really you’ve won half the battle. But there are also other little reminders of reality that can dispel your dreamy idyll.

• The rug is always forgotten, meaning a damp bum is inevitable.
• Picnic tables are a much better bet but if you find a free one on a particularly sunny day then it’s probably because it’s covered in bird poo.
• Cutlery always seems an afterthought, I usually end up eating my picnic with Cole’s plastic spoons having been unable to cobble together anything more civilised for the adults.
• There are no highchairs so toddlers are fully able to leap down off picnic benches without eating anything more than a chocolate biscuit and run off to chase the nearest squirrel.
• Or if you’re on the ground the same toddler will happily launch themselves across the rug towards the crisps, splattering houmous everywhere and squashing the sausage rolls.
• Plus on a slightly more personal bugbear picnics are just a little more of a bother if you’re gluten-free since you can’t just throw together an acceptable ham sandwich or do an M&S sweep of mini samosas and pork pies. Usually more time in the kitchen is in order which really puts the kibosh on impromptu picnic experiences.
• And if you really want to quibble with these lazy hazy summer days then fizz in the sun is the surest way to serve up hangovers to accompany the journey home.

Picnic Slice - gluten-free and packed with coconut, pistachios, and glace cherries covered with melted chocolate.

Still we soldier on as visiting National Trust properties or a day trip to the zoo just isn’t the same without a picnic break. With our picnics I usually keep it simple with my standard Coronation Chicken Salad and of course a generous helping of cake.

I love a portable cake, something you can wrap in foil, tuck into a coolbag and it still look the business when you unwrap it a couple of hours later.

Picnic Slice - gluten-free and packed with coconut, pistachios, and glace cherries covered with melted chocolate.

I found this recipe for Picnic Slice in an absolute gem of a cookbook called The Classic 1000 Cake and Bake Recipes. It was given to me as a secret santa gift a million years ago and it has an absolute treasure trove of quick, easy homestyle bakes that can be slammed together in no time. When leafing through it the other day for something fun and easy to make that Cole could get involved with this Picnic Slice caught my eye. I loved the name and was thrilled when I saw that the recipe contained no flour whatsoever so is the perfect naturally gluten-free bake. Although as I write this I can see my fatal error as I didn’t actually cut the cake into slices but bars instead. I’m sure no one will notice.

The finished result was a little bit like a glorified coconut macaroon but with more nuts and dried fruit going on. I added pistachios to the original recipe which was definitely a good idea. It is also pretty excellent for showing off your Homemade Glacé Cherries should you be so inclined. Usually Cole can get a little bored by baking with mummy but the thrill of plucking the odd pistachio and glace cherry out of the bowl kept him entertained the whole time.

Picnic Slice - gluten-free and packed with coconut, pistachios, and glace cherries covered with melted chocolate.

It was an odd recipe though, requiring you to pour the melted chocolate into the bottom of the cake tin, then dollop the coconut batter on top before baking it in the oven. Usually I wouldn’t put my melted chocolate back in the oven as it messes around with the temper of the chocolate too much and would lead to white streaks across a dull surface. This did kind of happen, especially after I chilled it in the fridge afterwards which I would definitely recommend so they retain a better structure. Plus they are pretty yummy cold.

I debated over changing the method slightly so the melted chocolate is drizzled over after the coconut layer has been baked but I did love the way that the chocolate wraps around and sort of soaks into the coconut layer beneath in the original recipe. Plus if you scatter across enough accoutrements over the surface of the Picnic Slice then the slightly streaky chocolate beneath isn’t a problem.

Picnic Slice - gluten-free and packed with coconut, pistachios, and glace cherries covered with melted chocolate.

So here’s to the next picnic, of which our tried and tested Picnic Slice will definitely be a part of. Now we just have to hope for clear skies, a free clean table and a compliant toddler. At least the Picnic Slice doesn’t require cutlery.

Print Recipe
Picnic Slice
Naturally gluten-free, these treats are light, packed with fruit and nuts and covered in plenty of chocolate.
Picnic Slice - gluten-free and packed with coconut, pistachios, and glace cherries covered with melted chocolate.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
12 slices
Ingredients
  • 225 g dark chocolate
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 100 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 100 g desiccated coconut + 1 tablespoon for decoration
  • 75 g pistachios roughly chopped (+ a few roughly chopped for decoration)
  • 75 g sultanas
  • 75 g glace cherries roughly chopped (+ a few roughly for decoration)
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
12 slices
Ingredients
  • 225 g dark chocolate
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 100 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 100 g desiccated coconut + 1 tablespoon for decoration
  • 75 g pistachios roughly chopped (+ a few roughly chopped for decoration)
  • 75 g sultanas
  • 75 g glace cherries roughly chopped (+ a few roughly for decoration)
Picnic Slice - gluten-free and packed with coconut, pistachios, and glace cherries covered with melted chocolate.
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C and line and grease an 8 inch square cake tin.
  2. Melt the chocolate with the salt in a bain marie or a glass bowl sitting over simmering water then pour into the bottom of the cake tin. Leave to rest whilst you prepare the batter.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until combined.
  5. Then tip in the coconut, pistachios, sultanas, cherries and again beat until the batter has come together.
  6. Pour the batter evenly over the chocolate.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Leave the Picnic Slice in the tin for 10 minutes to set a little then carefully remove, turn upside down so the chocolate is on the top and set onto a wire rack.
  9. Scatter the extra pistachios, coconut and cherries over the top then leave to cool to room temperature.
  10. Store the Picnic Slice in the for at least 4 hours to completely chill before cutting into bars.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from The Classic 1000 Cake and Bake Recipes, by Wendy Hobson

I see they still stock Wendy Hobson’s Classic 1000 Cake & Bake Recipes book on Amazon which I would really recommend, there are few pictures but lots of little recipes that are so perfect to whip up for bake sales, take to pot lucks or school fetes.

I have had this Master Class Non-Stick Deep Square Cake Tin for years and it’s always served me really well. It has a loose base so ideal for removing more delicate bakes from the tin like this Picnic Slice which doesn’t really properly set until cool. I also use it for all my brownies for the same reason.

The images above are affiliate links which means if you decide you want to use these link to make your purchases then Amazon gives me a small commission at no cost to you whatsoever. I will only recommend products I use in my kitchen and love. It’s just a way for me to fund my shopping list so if you do click through then many thanks!!

Simple Brown Rice Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette

This Simple Brown Rice Salad is an absolute standby for any August barbecue, picnic or informal gathering. It’s easy and lazy – are you noticing a theme with my recipes of late? I’m hoping that most of these ingredients are already in your fridge so that if you are suddenly called upon to bring something to a large gathering you can bust this out with nary a stressful thought.

This Simple Brown Rice Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette is created from salad drawer staples, it's easy, lazy, versatile and delicious.

This simple brown rice salad can be played around with to your heart’s content depending on what ingredients you have in your fridge and barely needs me to structure it with a recipe but sometimes when inspiration fails you a little nudge in the right direction is needed.

This Simple Brown Rice Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette is created from salad drawer staples, it's easy, lazy, versatile and delicious.

The ingredients are made up of basic salad drawer stuff like celery, bell pepper, red onion, cucumber and cherry tomatoes. I have included flaked almonds for crunch but any nuts or seeds will do and I have used parsley and dill but again, if you have basil and coriander then go for it. However, the dill does work especially well and I think is a completely under used herb.

This Simple Brown Rice Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette is created from salad drawer staples, it's easy, lazy, versatile and delicious.

You can afford to cheat a bit with the pesto vinaigrette. I usually have a jar of homemade pesto knocking around my fridge but if all you have is Tesco own brand then use that – no judgment, after all you are making a salad and that is what should be celebrated, not that you have been given a slight helping hand with the dressing. Any type of pesto will do – green or red or coriander, whatever you have to hand. However, if you are using shop-bought pesto then the flavour might not be as punchy so have a taste and add more into your vinaigrette if needed.

This Simple Brown Rice Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette is created from salad drawer staples, it's easy, lazy, versatile and delicious.

This Simple Brown Rice Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette is created from salad drawer staples, it's easy, lazy, versatile and delicious.

The great thing about this simple brown rice salad is that it will pretty much go with anything else that’s on the table and it keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days so can be prepared ahead of time. I am really thankful to have this rice salad recipe in my back pocket this summer and hope you will be too.

This Simple Brown Rice Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette is created from salad drawer staples, it's easy, lazy, versatile and delicious.

This Simple Brown Rice Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette is created from salad drawer staples, it's easy, lazy, versatile and delicious.
Print Recipe
Simple Brown Rice Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette
This salad is perfect for any gathering and is created from salad drawer staples. It's easy, lazy, versatile and delicious.
This Simple Brown Rice Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette is created from salad drawer staples, it's easy, lazy, versatile and delicious.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
4 as a lunch or several people as part of a buffet table
Ingredients
  • 175 g brown rice
  • 2 celery stalks diced
  • 1 yellow pepper diced
  • ½ red onion finely chopped
  • ½ cucumber de-seeded, diced
  • 150 g cherry tomatoes halved
  • 40 g flaked almonds toasted
  • 2 large handfuls parsley finely chopped
  • 1 medium handful dill finely chopped
pesto vinaigrette:
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • juice of ½ small lemon
  • 4 tablespoons pesto (any kind, homemade or shop bought – whatever you have in your fridge)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
4 as a lunch or several people as part of a buffet table
Ingredients
  • 175 g brown rice
  • 2 celery stalks diced
  • 1 yellow pepper diced
  • ½ red onion finely chopped
  • ½ cucumber de-seeded, diced
  • 150 g cherry tomatoes halved
  • 40 g flaked almonds toasted
  • 2 large handfuls parsley finely chopped
  • 1 medium handful dill finely chopped
pesto vinaigrette:
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • juice of ½ small lemon
  • 4 tablespoons pesto (any kind, homemade or shop bought – whatever you have in your fridge)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
This Simple Brown Rice Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette is created from salad drawer staples, it's easy, lazy, versatile and delicious.
Instructions
  1. Cook the brown rice according to the packet instructions then leave to cool.
  2. Meanwhile mix all the salad ingredients together in a large bowl and add to the rice once cool.
  3. To make the vinaigrette, whisk the Dijon and lemon along with some salt and pepper in a small bowl until thickened.
  4. Whisk in the pesto then drizzle in the olive oil whisking all the time until the dressing has come together.
  5. Pour over the rice salad, mixing in well.
  6. Store the salad in the fridge until needed.

Coronation Chicken Salad

This Coronation Chicken Salad is a stalwart recipe. It comes with me to every picnic or gathering where I am required to bring food. I never grow tired of it as it’s light, fresh and full of flavour thanks to the curried roasted chicken thighs which are simply out of this world.

Coronation Chicken Salad

This post is a week late which pretty much sums up the kind of life I’m living right now. If I appear to be on time for anything then it’s probably because my watch has stopped meaning something else for me to add to the never ending to do list.

Coronation Chicken Salad

Coronation Chicken Salad

I can’t complain though because it’s been a fantastic week, full of cake, balloons, party hats and bubbles. Yes, the Queen celebrated her 90th birthday at the weekend but in the Hartley household there was another more meaningful birthday this week as Cole turned a full 1 year old. With that I break down into floods of nostalgic tears for little newborn tootsies, tightly curled fingers, sleepy little yawns and without question the endless days where I held onto him contentedly on the sofa, surrounded by cushions, digestive biscuits and binge watching my Gilmore Girls DVDs.

Coronation Chicken Salad

So I haven’t watched a DVD since 2015 and these days Cole pretty much refuses to be held at all, shooting off my lap or out of the pram or out of the car seat as he practices using his wobbly little legs, inching closer and closer to walking. My life mostly involves careening about the house rescuing him from whatever danger he seems to be courting next. I also had to buy him his first pair of shoes as well this week to protect his feet which were getting filthy from London terrain. So it’s milestone after milestone and I’m struggling to keep up.

Coronation Chicken Salad

We celebrated his birthday by taking a hoard of North London mummies and babies to London Zoo along with a giant picnic and we had such an excellent day, even if he did nap through most of the animals. It was a truly British summer day and I made this Coronation Chicken Salad for us all to share. Actually it was a lazy choice of salad as it’s the one I bring to every large picnic gathering and I’ve been meaning to blog about for ages. It’s easy to make, so delicious and good with or without the rice to bulk it out. Even though it’s a mildly spiced coronation chicken, meaning that it’s suitable for adults and babies alike, it is certainly not lacking in flavour due to the freshly ground spices and tangy with lime and yoghurt to make up the dressing along with the usual mayo.

So happy birthday to Her Royal Highness but more importantly to My Royal Highness. It’s been an amazing, non-stop, emotional rollercoaster of a year but one I really don’t want to disembark from.

Print Recipe
Coronation Chicken Salad
Light fresh and modern take on Coronation Chicken. There's a reason it's a classic.
Coronation Chicken Salad
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
8-10 people
Ingredients
Curry Paste:
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • seeds from 3 cardamom pods
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
Salad
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 300 ml natural yoghurt
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 225 g wholegrain basmati and wild rice mix cooked according to packet instructions, then cooled
  • 8 dried apricots finely chopped
  • 4 spring onions finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli seeds removed and finely sliced
  • two large handfuls of mixed baby leaves
  • large handful of coriander leaves
  • 50 g flaked almonds toasted
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds black or white
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
8-10 people
Ingredients
Curry Paste:
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • seeds from 3 cardamom pods
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
Salad
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 300 ml natural yoghurt
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 225 g wholegrain basmati and wild rice mix cooked according to packet instructions, then cooled
  • 8 dried apricots finely chopped
  • 4 spring onions finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli seeds removed and finely sliced
  • two large handfuls of mixed baby leaves
  • large handful of coriander leaves
  • 50 g flaked almonds toasted
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds black or white
Coronation Chicken Salad
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C
  2. First make the curry paste by grinding together the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds and cardamom seeds until fine using a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar. Tip into a large bowl and add the turmeric, ginger, garlic powder, salt and mix well. Remove 1 tablespoon of the spices and set aside in a small bowl for later.
  3. Stir the coconut oil into the rest of the spice mix until a thick paste has been formed.
  4. Rub the paste all over the chicken thighs until they are evenly covered. Place in the oven and roast for 15 minutes then remove from the oven and scatter over the sesame seeds, place back into the oven, turn the heat up to 220°C and roast for a further 15 minutes. Remove and leave the chicken until cool enough to handle then shred the meat and crisp skin from the bones. Place in a bowl whilst you prepare the dressing.
  5. To make the dressing whisk together the mayonnaise, yoghurt, lime juice and almond butter with the reserved tablespoon of the spice mix.
  6. Mix the chicken, the cooked rice, the chopped apricots, spring onions and chilli in with dressing until completely covered.
  7. Toss the baby leaves and coriander leaves together in a large bowl then add in the coronation chicken, mixing lightly so the leaves don’t get too heavy with the dressing.
  8. To serve, scatter over the flaked almonds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.

Pancetta, Onion and Gruyère Tartlets

Pancetta Onion & Gruyere Tartlets

Tartlets? Tartlets? Tartlets? The word has lost all meaning…

…is what I hear every time I hear or read the word tartlet.

I made these tartlets for my Mum’s birthday lunch this week. It was a bit of a kickbollockscramble to get the lunch together on time as I have severe pregnancy brain. The night before we had gone out to the theatre as a pre-birthday celebration and my sister innocently asked me what we were having for lunch the next day. The champagne lunch that I had offered to throw for us all weeks before and had an extremely sufficient timeframe to work with. My organisational skills haven’t been on top form recently and my memory is like emmental. In fact I think the amount of time I have been spending thinking about my new cake stall and new cake recipes seems to have pushed everything else out of my mind.

Pancetta Onion & Gruyere Tartlets

It’s just as well I bought my Mum afternoon tea for two at The Langham for a birthday present as the fact it was cake related meant she actually received a present from me. So when my sister asked what we were having for lunch the next day I thought about it and realised that I hadn’t actually prepared anything or even had constructed a vague plan for lunch. So when I got home that night I thought about Mum’s favourite foods and how I could throw them together in a quick and calm manner before everyone descended at 12.30pm the next day.

A sort of quiche was the first thing I thought about as she loves a good homemade eggy pastry, as do I, especially if loaded with cheese, caramelised onions and large chunks of smoked pancetta. I decided upon miniature versions as well as not only are they quicker to cook but it meant I could also fill the table up with other little bits and bobs like my Cashew Chicken Satay, a wild rice salad sprinkled with Walnut Dukkah and freshly baked madeleines served with strawberries macerated in sugar and Chantilly cream.

Pancetta Onion & Gruyere Tartlets

I think I amazed myself most of all when I was in Waitrose at 9.30am buying the ingredients and then everything was on the table at 12.45pm along with glasses bubbling over with champagne. I was covered in flour, without a scrap of make-up but the house was tidy, the table was set and the food was delicious.

Pancetta, Onion and Gruyère Tartlets
Makes 18

250g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
125g cold butter, sliced thinly
1 egg
35ml cold water
1 tablespoon butter
100g pancetta or bacon lardons
1 large red onion, peeled and diced
1 egg
2 egg yolks
200g crème fraiche
115g gruyère
pinch nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper

In a large mixing bowl whisk the salt into the flour then tip in the butter. Rub between your fingertips until the mixture resembles course breadcrumbs.
Add the egg and cold water and bring together with your hands to form a smooth dough which shouldn’t be sticky. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for half an hour to rest.
In a medium sized saucepan heat the olive oil then add the pancetta and onions and cook on a low to medium heat for about 15 minutes until the pancetta has begun to crisp up and the onions have caramelised. Remove from the heat and leave to cool to room temperature.
Roll the pastry out on a floured surface to about 3mm thickness and cut out into 4 inch rounds
Press the pastry circles lightly into a 12 hole and 6 hole muffin tin and place back into the fridge for a further half hour.
In a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs and egg yolks with the crème fraiche. Add the gruyère, nutmeg and salt and pepper and mix until fully combined then stir in the bacon and onions.
Pour the filling evenly into the pastry cases then place in the oven.
Bake for 10 minutes at 180°C, then turn the heat down to 160°C and bake for a further 10 minutes.
Remove the tartlets from the oven and leave in the tins for about 5 minutes to settle then lift out to finish cooling on a wire rack.

Butternut Squash and Chilli Scones

Butternut Squash and Chilli Scones
Scones are such a homely treat and feel so spring-like which is exactly how I’m feeling as well at the moment as sun pours gloriously through my kitchen and I can see the crocuses brightening up our garden. We have to seize this lovely sunny weather whilst we can as by next week no doubt we will be knee deep in another cold snap. However, for now my woollen winter coat has been shelved, although that is more out of necessity as it’s become yet another one of my items of clothing now relegated to my post baby body.

Butternut Squash and Chilli Scones

This weekend we made the most of the sunshine and spent a great deal of Saturday in the car stuck in traffic, but it was to the ends of visiting Southend-on-Sea, our closest seaside resort and one we had never been to before. To our delight, it was exactly how we expected it to be, replete with amusement arcades, fish and chip shops and a greying sea. Although there wasn’t as much Jamie Oliver as promised.

It was quite a sedate affair, as we took Billy Buddy with us and he is only allowed 20 minutes of walking a day since he’s still recovering from his operation. After his time was up we were left to carry him down the promenade, much to the bemusement of the crowds who must have thought we were very precious owners. Billy, as is his wont, made the most of being chest height, reaching his neck just a little bit to try for an illicit taste of our ice cream cornets that go hand in hand with a seaside adventure. Dogs weren’t allowed on the pier which was a great shame so we just had to look at the longest pleasure pier in the world from afar and bank it for our next visit.

As we sat watching the tide lapping at the beach and dipping our chips into curry sauce the good weather also had us planning picnics into our foreseeable future. I don’t think you need to have amazing weather for a picnic, just a bit of sunshine and no rain will suffice.

Butternut Squash and Chilli Scones

Picnic food always gets me so excited, mini sticky sausages, a quiche still oven-warm, the omnipresent dips and fairy cakes. Plus I will always try and make some sort of a scone for a picnic, for me they are perfect for outdoor eating and if I’ve made a batch, then I usually hotfoot it to the garden with a mound of whipped butter, a pot of tea and a cosy jumper with which to enjoy them.

Butternut Squash and Chilli Scones

These savoury Butternut Squash and Chilli Scones were such a baking triumph last week. I have been recipe testing up a storm and in a week of failed Bakewell puddings and sunken gluten-free cakes these scones were perfect first time around and just what I had envisaged. I love it when I discover a new portable bake, these will be so handy for bringing to our planned picnic and Women’s Institute meetings. That’s not to mention that these scones also go very well with a mug of warm tomato soup or spread thickly with cream cheese, which I can testify to as that is how I ate them.

Butternut Squash and Chilli Scones

Butternut Squash and Chilli Scones
Makes 12

1 butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
350g strong white bread flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon caster sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
75g unsalted butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
180g mashed butternut squash
1 red chilli, seeds removed and finely diced
150ml buttermilk
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten for an egg wash

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C and line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
  2. Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl and whisk in the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and caster sugar.
  3. Add the butter then rub together with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  4. Pour in the beaten egg and turn it into the mixture with a wooden spoon until completely incorporated.
  5. Add the butternut squash and the chilli, mixing well.
  6. Pour in the buttermilk and stir in.
  7. Tip the mixture onto a floured surface and pat the mixture together, if the dough is still too wet add in a little more flour, folding and turning the dough until the flour is incorporated. You want to work this dough as little as possible.
  8. Once the dough is dry enough to work with then pat it out using your hand to 1 inch thickness and cut out circles using a 68mm round pastry cutter.
  9. Place the scones on the baking tray, then brush the tops with the beaten egg yolk.
  10. Bake the scones in the oven for 12-15 minutes until risen and golden.

Wensleydale and Bacon Ale Jam Scones

Wensleydale and Bacon Ale Jam Scones
When I think of Wensleydale cheese I think of Wallace and Gromit and it’s not long before I’m thinking of Wensleydale that my unique Yorkshire accent is produced for all and sundry to enjoy.  I love a good accent and take great pride in butchering every one I attempt.

Wensleydale and Bacon Ale Jam Scones  |  Stroud Green Larder

If you are not terribly familiar with Wensleydale it might be because you live in Stroud Green, it took me an absolute age to track down some of this wonderfully traditional British cheese that wasn’t contaminated with cranberries or apricots.  This is such a delicate summery cheese that it’s a shame it only comes into full force at Christmas as a novelty item on the cheeseboard.

Wensleydale and Bacon Ale Jam Scones  |  Stroud Green Larder

I was on the Wensleydale hunt particularly for this delicious scone recipe which I made for our last WI meeting.  We had thrown open our doors to the public for all and sundry to come and listen to author Gillian Tindall give a talk on our local historical building, Stapleton Hall, and we took pride in our WI reputation by providing homemade cakes and bakes for everyone to enjoy.

Wensleydale and Bacon Ale Jam Scones  |  Stroud Green Larder

I will often take a punnet of scones to a potluck or a picnic as they transport excellently and if you stuff enough cheese into them they will always be better received than a sweaty cheese sandwich.  However, I wanted to add a bit of something extra this time round and bake the jam into the scone, which would certainly save room in the picnic basket.  If you have any bacon jam in the fridge, as you absolutely must if you have learnt anything from food bloggers over the last few years, then do use that, or have a go at my new bacon jam recipe which I posted yesterday.  I will confess now that I made the bacon jam especially for these scones.  I wanted a very British scone where the ale in the jam could pair delightfully with the Wensleydale baked into the dough.

Wensleydale and Bacon Ale Jam Scones  |  Stroud Green Larder

The only way to eat a savoury scone is to crack it open at the middle, pulling the warmed dough apart and liberally spreading with whipped butter.  As I say, to eat at a picnic is an absolute joy but to eat at home is a luxury as then you can warm your scones up lightly in the oven so the steam rushes out when you break it open and the butter melts with abandon.

Wensleydale and Bacon Ale Jam Scones  |  Stroud Green Larder

Wensleydale, and Bacon Ale Jam Scones
Makes about 18 scones

550g strong bread flour, plus a little extra for rolling out
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g Wensleydale Cheese
Black Pepper
1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
125g Bacon Ale Jam
200ml milk
1 free-range egg, beaten, for the egg wash

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C and line two large baking trays with baking parchment.
  2. Tip 500g of the flour into a large mixing bowl along with the butter then rub them together with your fingertips until they resemble breadcrumbs.
  3. Crumble up the Wensleydale into the bowl with the black pepper. Rub the larger lumps of cheese in a little bit into the flour.
  4. Then add the baking powder, mixing in well.
  5. Pour in the beaten eggs and turn it into the mixture with a wooden spoon until completely incorporated.
  6. Then add in the bacon jam and the other 50g of the flour. Use the flour as a carrier for the fat in the bacon jam and rub into the other ingredients.
  7. Once the bacon jam is evenly dispersed, pour the milk in carefully, stirring in with a wooden spoon. The mixture will become quite wet.
  8. Tip the mixture onto a floured surface and pat the mixture together, if the dough is still too wet add in a little more flour, folding and turning the dough until the flour is incorporated. You want to work this dough as little as possible.
  9. Once the dough is dry enough to work with then roll out to 1 inch thickness and cut out circles using a 68mm round pastry cutter.
  10. Place the scones on the baking trays, then brush with the egg wash.
  11. Bake the scones in the oven for 12-15 minutes until risen and golden.
  12. Serve with plenty of whipped butter.