Picture this: the sun is shining the grass is green, and the birds are singing sweetly as you open the picnic lunch you prepared lovingly.
Now: imagine your horror when you look inside and see the Meringues, that you carefully sandwiched together with cream and sliced strawberries, crumbled in sticky morsels all over the rest of the food. Your brie and grape baguettes are covered not in oats, but in cake crumbs!
A sweet treat for a lunchbox or a picnic has to be chosen carefully. It needs to be hardy enough to withstand being transported – and in the case of children’s lunchboxes, being kicked! – But light and tasty enough to maintain its desirability.
If the weather is particularly warm, you don’t want to pack anything too chocolaty that is going to melt and be very sticky, or be adversely affected by the heat.
So what do we at Cakebaker recommend? These are some of our favourites.
Although not the hardiest of cakes, they come with their own cases – hygienic to hold if your hands happen to be muddy! – And are fairly resilient.
- 110g (4oz) margarine
- 110g (4oz) caster sugar
- 110g (4oz) self-raising flour, sifted
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 50g (2oz) sultanas
- Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC, gas mark 5.
- Beat the margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in the beaten eggs a little at a time. Fold in the flour with a metal spoon. Fold in the sultanas.
- Put baking cases into bun tins: you should be able to make about 16 cakes.
- Half-fill the baking cases and cook for about 15-18 minutes. Leave to cool before eating.
- If you have a food processor or mixer, you can prepare this by the all-in-one method. In this case, add 1 teaspoon of baking powder to the flour before sieving. For more details on the all-in-one method, see The Easiest Spongecake Ever.
Exactly the same as Queen only without the sultanas!
Chocolate Chip Cakes
Follow the recipe for Queen cakes but use 2 oz chocolate chips instead of sultanas.
These are an old favourite, and there are as many variations in recipes as there are cooks. The ingredients vary but the basic instructions stay the same: melt, mix and bake! We’d like to suggest a variation on the theme. Date flapjacks are very moreish as well as being packed with healthy fibre, so you can eat more knowing that they’re good for you!
- 350g (12oz) dates – or thereabouts
- Orange juice
- 350g (12oz) margarine
- 2 dessertspoons golden syrup
- 250g (9oz) caster sugar
- 225g (8oz) porridge oats
- 175g (6oz) desiccated coconut
- 175g (6oz) plain flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC, gas mark 4.
- Chop the dates and put in a saucepan with 6 tablespoons orange juice. Cook gently until the dates are soft and mushy. You might need more orange juice.
- Melt the sugar and syrup together. Add the rest of the ingredients. Spread half the mixture over the bottom of a roasting tin. Cover with the date puree. Top with the rest of the flapjack mixture.
- Cook for about 30 minutes, or until browned.
- Allow to cool slightly then cut into pieces and cool on a tray.
This quantity makes about 24 good-sized date flapjacks! You could halve it for your first attempt but you’re likely to find that you’ll need the full quantity when your family discovers how yummy they are.
We didn’t recommend packing chocolate cakes but in case you can’t imagine a picnic without chocolate, here’s another favourite of ours.
Unusually here we’re giving quantities in cupfuls. A small mug is fine for this recipe.
- 175g (6oz) margarine
- 1 dessertspoon golden syrup
- 150g (5oz) self-raising flour
- 225g (8oz) sugar
- 110g (4oz) porridge oats
- 110g (4oz) desiccated coconut
- Large bar of cooking chocolate for topping
- Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC, gas mark 4. Grease a Swiss Roll tin.
- Melt the margarine and syrup in a large saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave.
- Add the remaining ingredients – not the chocolate – and mix well. Press evenly into the tin.
- Cook for 12-15 minutes.
- Cover with melted chocolate. Cut into fingers when it’s set.
Other options include chunks of fruit cake, Brownies and welshcakes; in fact, anything that’s simple to pack and satisfying enough to help keep your child awake for the rest of the school day! Or yummy enough to leave a pleasant memory in your thoughts as you lie back on the grass and snooze in the sunshine!