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June 2018

Design, Fashion & Style, Food

The Picnic Edit. Tackle National Picnic Week In Style.

National Picnic Week

 

This week, if you didn’t happen to be aware, is National Picnic Week. Yup, there is indeed a week dedicated to the art of picnicking. Rather perfectly it falls in the same week as the longest day and the official start of British Summer Time, so there seemed like no better time to compile a list of picnic tips and picnicware essentials.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that nothing we purchase should be truly disposable. I try to apply that logic to all situations, even picnics. If you can’t invest in something reusable then you’ll find some amazing biodegradable or recyclable options out there. After all, the very idea of a picnic is to enjoy eating outside in nature, so the less impact you can have it on whilst you’re there enjoying it, the better!

 

National Picnic Week

 

Invest in a good blanket.

In my experience the best picnic blankets are those backed with a waterproof layer. A beautiful wool blanket is all good and well but come 7.30pm on those damp. dewey evenings it isn’t going to be your friend. If you can invest in a quality blanket and picnicware and they should hopefully see you through years of picnicking action.

If you’ll be taking children (or just particularly messy eaters) there are some great wipe-clean options out there too, although these do come with a word of warning. Should you be wearing something that will have your legs coming into direct contact with it, this most definitely will not be pleasant for anyone involved. Think back to those awful lightweight kagools your mother used to make you wear in the wet summer months and I’m sure you’ll get an idea of the discomfort that lies when things are wipe clean.

 

Go all out.

No matter how good your picnic blanket is the chances of it offering much in the way of comfort are slim. Bring some cushions. Everyone’s rears will thank you for it.

 

Bag it up.

Picnic baskets are beautiful things. Beautiful yet bulky and vaguely impractical things. Personally I opt for a tote bag. I can hang a tote bag easily, I can fold it up and I can put it a drawer, I can even use it for my weekly food shop. What I can’t use for a midweek trip to Sainsbury’s however is a large four-man wicker picnic basket. I’m nothing if not practical when it comes to storage.

 

Keep it glassy.

Wine in plastic cups with rip off lids may indeed seem extremely practical, but bottles of wine however are infinitely more stylish, let’s not kid ourselves. Picnics should be an event; a celebration of Britain finally enjoying weather worthy of a picnic! Such celebrations should not involve lukewarm wine in a plastic cup, half of which you inevitably slosh down yourself as you attempt to rip off the lid.

 

 

The Picnicware Edit

 

|1.| Floor Cushion, £6.99 |2.| Floor Cushion, £8.99 |3.| Wool Picnic Blanket, £35 |4.| Striped Paper Cups, £4.50 |5.| Wool Picnic Blanket, £90 |6.| Woven Basket, £45 |7.| Melamine Plates, £18 |8.| Glass Bottle, £1 |9.| Melamine Beakers, £14 |10.| Wooden Cutlery, £9

As Featured In Imagery:
The White Company Wool Picnic Blanket, £90
The White Company Rattan Tray, Part of Set, £75
The White Company Striped Cushion, £35

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Ate, Food

A Recipe For Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Bundt Cake.

Lemon & Thyme Bundt Cake

 

The tableware and linen used in this post were kindly gifted by The White Company.

I don’t know that any taste signifies the arrival of summer quite like the sharp, fresh kick of lemon. Combine that flavour and vibrant colour with a cake and you’ve got yourself the perfect addition to a sun-drenched weekend. Perfect for making ahead for a leisurely picnic, this play on the traditional lemon drizzle cake combines the subtle taste of fresh thyme with the satisfying crunch of pistachio.

I’ve opted for a painfully Instagram-worthy bundt tin, but it will work just as well in a large springform tin too if you’ve chosen to live life without a bundt. I however love a good bundt. Excellent word that, bundt.

 

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Lemon Drizzle Bundt Cake

 

Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Bundt Cake

450g Plain flour
200g Soft unsalted butter
3 Unwaxed lemons
45g Roughly chopped unsalted pistachio kernels
290g Caster sugar
Fresh thyme
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 large eggs
250ml buttermilk
150g icing sugar

2.5 litre capacity bundt tin, or a 20cm cake tin

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees / 170 degrees fan. Place a baking sheet in the oven at the same time; you’ll place the bundt tin on this when it goes in. This little tip comes courtesy of Nigella herself, so it’s an essential.

Grease your bundt tin with sunflower oil dabbed onto some kitchen towel. Make sure you get the oil into every last crevice of the bundt tin. You can also use a spray oil. If you’re using a regular circular tin, line with greaseproof paper as you would normally.

Take a healthy bunch of fresh thyme and remove the leaves from the stalks. I won’t lie, it’s a fiddly job. I suggest taking a large bowl to the sofa and settling down to watch some Ina Garten whilst you work. You’ll need around 4 tablespoons of leaves, plus extra for decoration.

Once back in the kitchen add the sifted flour, bicarb and baking powder to a bowl and combine.

In a second bowl add the butter, 250g of the caster sugar, thyme leaves and the grated zest of two lemons, reserving the third for decorating the cake later. Using an electric mixer mix the butter until creamy.

Take the eggs one at a time and mix into the sugar mixture until fully combined and creamy. Now it’s time to add in the buttermilk and flour mixture. Do this in stages, a third of the flour, followed by a third of the buttermilk, mixing thoroughly between each third. When everything is combined add in the juice of one of your lemons and mix.

Pour the mixture into your tin and gently tap this on the work top to remove any air pockets. Place in the oven on top of the hot baking tray for one hour.

When the cake has been in the oven for forty minutes start making your drizzle. In a pan place the remaining 40g of caster, the juice of your second lemon and a splash of water. Heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture begins to bubble and thicken.

At the hour mark check on the cake, inserting a skewer or small knife to check if it’s done. If the knife comes out clean, it’s all done.

With the tin resting on a wire cooling rack gently slide a skewer or fine knife into the cake repeatedly to create small holes. Don’t go too deep, you shouldn’t reach the top of the cake, but make sure you go at least 3/4 into the cake. Now spoon over the drizzle, concentrating on the holes you’ve created. It’s likely there will also be a central crack running along the cake, perfect for spooning more drizzle down. If you’ve gone for a regular cake tin just create holes in circular patterns throughout the base. Leave to cool.

If you greased the tin well the cake should easily slide out when you flip it on a wire wrack. (Fingers crossed.) Zest your remaining lemon and pop to one side. Slice and juice the lemon and combine with the icing sugar in a bowl, adding water in small amount until you have a thick yet pourable icing mixture. Use a spoon to pour this over the bundt cake, letting it trickle down the sides.

Scatter over the remaining thyme leaves, lemon zest and chopped pistachio kernels as the finishing touch and leave to one side whilst the icing sets.

Serve with Earl Grey iced tea.

 

The White Company Summer Collection

|1| Artisan Side Plate, £10 |2| Striped Cotton Napkins, £25 |3| Oversized Handmade Platter, £55 |4| Jute Woven Placemat, £12

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