Now that I can sit with a friend in the park, what are the best transportable bakes?
Sarah, London E17
If you’re in England, walks with a friend now come with the bonus of a pit stop, so Sarah is wise to factor in her fuel. When it comes to transporting bakes to a park bench, however, you can easily find yourself in a terrible mess. “You want to avoid most cakes,” says baker Edd Kimber. “Anything with a frosting or cream, that’s too delicate or that could easily be squashed.”
The obvious things that fit that bill are brownies, bars and traybakes. And you don’t get many more proficient in the subject than Kimber, who last year penned One Tin Bakes: “Flapjacks or millionaire’s shortbread are sturdy, so they can easily be stacked in plastic boxes without you having to worry about them.” You could, he adds, swap the classic shortbread base of said millionaire for an Anzac cookie-inspired one, using oats, desiccated coconut and honey (a recipe from his book). “It’s really easy to make the caramel vegan, too,” he says. “Just use coconut condensed milk.”
For Pamela Yung, head chef at London’s Flor, you can’t go far wrong with a cookie. She favours a chocolate chip made with buckwheat flour, nuts and bittersweet chocolate, shortbread or snickerdoodles rolled in cinnamon sugar. Or you could throw caution to the wind with something altogether more indulgent: “Even though it requires a utensil to eat, what about individual portions of tiramisu?” Yung sensibly suggests. Her top tip? Don’t scrimp on the marsala or amaretto, and ensure you have a good amount of bitter cocoa on top to balance the sweetness.
If you hanker for cake, though, treat it like a scone, says Tarunima Sinha, the baker behind My Little Cake Tin. By that she means packing the different elements – jam, cream, sponge – separately, then building in situ. “You’ll still be eating Victoria sponge, but without the hassle of it sliding around on the way there.”
Savoury scones are another good shout. Kimber often freezes a batch of wild garlic and cheddar ones, ready to defrost individually. Bread rolls are another good foil for wild garlic. Start with a yeasted recipe, Yung says, then get creative by adding the likes of garlic butter, cheese, jalapeños, fresh herbs or za’atar to the dough or on top. “There are so many ways to make them more fun.”
Pocket-sized treats wrapped in pastry (pasties, sausage rolls) are also a cinch to eat alfresco. Pack up a couple of Anna Jones’ leek and mustard rolls, for which you can use whatever root veg you have to hand. Jones adds grated carrot and squash, garlic and fennel seeds to a pan of softened leeks and onion, then, once cooked, mixes in chopped parsley, lemon zest, grated cheddar, English mustard and seasons. Then it’s just an assembly job with puff pastry.
Finally, dare to be basic. “My attention span has disappeared recently, so simple is all I can be bothered to do at the moment,” Kimber says. “Making those easy, comforting things are always going to be winners.”