PICNICS are a glorious idea but sometimes they are not so romantic in the, often cold, reality of an Irish summer.
It is most likely sand in the sandwiches, wind blowing the crisps, with scarfs and jackets being pulled tight.
When I envisage a picnic it is all dappled sunlight, quiet streams and deciding what, from the basket, to tuck into next; all with a glass of something cool and sweet in hand.
The exact origin of the word picnic is contested. The Oxford dictionary says its roots are unknown but there is a thought that it may come from the verb piquer; to pick or to peck.
These recipes are ideal for satisfying picnic gatherings. The tear-and-share bread rolls or sweet sticky cinnamon swirls all rise when baking and merge together because of the yeast in the dough.
Working with yeast is a little trickier than a more simple soda bread, it takes more time and patience.
The strong white flour makes your dough a bit easier to work with and gives a lighter result. Strong flour has a higher gluten content than plain flour which allows the dough to rise and stretch that little bit more, leading to more air bubbles in the finished result.
When testing if your dough has been kneaded enough, you can do what is called a windowpane test.
Take a small piece of dough and stretch it gently. Hold it up between your two thumbs and stretch.
If the gluten has been worked enough it should have the ability to stretch until it is transparent.
If you do not get outside to enjoy a picnic the rolls and swirls are all lovely eaten slightly warm, whatever the weather.
20g of dried yeast
700g of strong flour
240mls of milk, lukewarm
2 egg yolks
100g of caster sugar
Zest of a lemon
120g of melted butter, allowed to cool to lukewarm
250g of apricot jam
1 tbsp of dark rum
Icing sugar for dusting
Mix the yeast with five tablespoons of lukewarm water. Add the flour, milk, egg and egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and butter. Knead the dough with a dough hook or on an oiled surface for about five minutes.
The dough will have pulled away from the sides of the bowl and will become elastic. Let the dough rest in a lightly oiled bowl for about an hour until it doubles in size, cover it with a damp tea towel as it does.
Lightly grease an 8 x 12 inch oven dish with butter. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.
Stir the apricot jam and rum together.
Cut the dough into pieces of about 40g each. Pull each piece of dough open and fill with a tea spoon of the apricot jam mixture and fold it shut. Layer the rolls in the dish with the seam at the bottom.
Allow to rest in a warm place once again until the dough has risen to twice its size.
Bake for 35 minutes. Dust with icing sugar while still warm.
580g strong flour, plus a little extra for dusting
200g of wholemeal flour
7g of dried yeast
1 tsp of fine sea salt
450 mls of warm water
100 mls of olive oil
150g of butter
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp of chilli flakes
1 tsp of cracked black pepper
A bunch of parsley, chopped
A bunch of chives, chopped
A bunch of sage, chopped
100g of parmesan grated
Mix the flours, yeast and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
Gradually pour in the warm water, and then the oil. Continuously stir, bringing the flour from the outside as you do to form a rough dough.
Transfer the ball of dough onto a flour-dusted surface and knead for about ten minutes, or until smooth and springy to touch.
Place in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave in a warm place for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size.
Blitz the butter, garlic, chilli, black pepper together until completely combined. Add in the chopped herbs and blitz again. Set aside.
Line a 10 x 12 inch oven proof dish with parchment and spread it with a thin layer of butter. Pre heat your oven to 190 degrees.
Divide up the dough into about 28 pieces, then, one-by-one, roll each one into a ball and place into the prepared dish.
Dot the remaining butter over the top of the balls of dough, sprinkle with the parmesan.
Bake for about 35 minutes, or until golden. Once cool enough to handle remove the paper from the dish taking the bread with it and allow to cool on a wire rack.
200 mls of milk
100g of butter
1 tsp of fine sea salt
1½ tsp of dried yeast
50g of golden caster sugar
250g of whole meal flour
250g of strong white flour
75g of butter
45g of caster sugar
1 tbsp of ground cinnamon
1 egg, lightly beaten
30g of caster sugar
1 tbs of ground cinnamon
Gently heat the milk, butter and salt until the butter has melted. Set aside to cool to lukewarm.
Stir the yeast and sugar through the flours. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs and milk mixture. Combine the ingredients bringing in the flour from the sides as you do to form a sticky dough.
Oil a clean surface and turn out the dough, knead it for about eight minutes until a smooth ball is formed.
Place it into an oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Allow to sit in a warm place until it has doubled in size.
Blitz the ingredients for the paste until they are combined and set aside.
Line an oven proof dish with parchment and pre heat your oven to 200 degrees.
Tip the dough out on to an oiled surface and flatten it into a rectangle about 14 by 10 inches in size. Spread the paste on top and then roll the dough to form a sausage.
Slice the sausage into twelve slices and nuzzle them together into the prepared dish.
Set aside in a warm place with a tea towel on top to allow them to rise again.
Brush the top of the buns with the beaten egg and sprinkle with both the sugar and ground cinnamon.
Bake for about 20 minutes until golden and baked through.