Lifestyle

How to Plan the Perfect Summer Picnic in Suffolk

No quintessential British summer is complete unless you’ve dined under the sun with a hamper of tasty food and idyllic countryside surrounding you.

Despite the popularity and apparent ease of eating al fresco though, picnics do require a little planning to make them successful!

So if you’re thinking of having a summer picnic in Suffolk, here’s some advice on where to go, what food to take, and what to do!

Find the Perfect Spot

Not all picnic places are created equally! While it might seem as though you could pick any spot to host a little outdoor eating, you might find yourself in a spot of trouble if you decide to settle down on private land. So it’s best to do a little research beforehand to ensure everything goes smoothly. There are some amazing designated spots for a picnic throughout the Dedham Vale and Suffolk countryside.

Perfect places for picnics in the local area…

Arger Fen

One of the local area’s best hidden spots, Arger Fen is a wild wood which is full of beautiful trees, flowers, wildlife and more. It’s one of the most scenic spots around for a picnic!

Flatford

Here you can relax by the water near Flatford Mill and enjoy the quiet atmosphere while you tuck into delicious treats. You could also hire a boat and row down the river to explore the surroundings during the day.

Long Melford Country Park

This beautiful park is has it all; open grassland, woods and ponds to explore, as well as lots of facilities to enjoy a lovely day. Walk down the beautiful River Stour and find a spot to lay your blanket and picnic!

Prepare Delicious Treats

Standard picnic fayre usually includes finger foods like chicken drumsticks, scotch eggs, pork pies, cheese and bread along with salads, sandwiches, and fruit. All of these foods are easily portable and simple to eat, which is ideal! It’s a good idea to keep all your components (like dressings and fillings) separate. Prepare as much as you can beforehand but add liquid ingredients at the last minute to ensure that things don’t go soggy.

Once you’ve got the simple parts out of the way you can take your picnic to the next level with a standout dessert! Here’s a fantastic recipe for a Raspberry Custard Tart with Currant biscuit from our SbN Chef that will really wow when you take it out at your picnic.

  • Raspberry Custard Tart with Currant Biscuit

    FOR THE PASTRY:

    300gm plain flour

    150gm cold unsalted butter diced

    100gm icing sugar

    1 eggs

    2 egg yolks

    1. 1. Place all ingredients except eggs in blender and pulse till it’s breadcrumbs
    2. 2. Add 1 egg AND 1 yolk and pulse till mix comes together
    3. 3. On a lightly floured surface knead lightly to form a ball and flatten slightly, wrap in cling film and chill for 3 hours
    4. 4. Grease ring, roll out pastry, line ring, press in gently, cut of excess leaving a 1cm overhang
    5. 5. Line with silicone and baking beans, chill for 20 mins
    6. 6. Bake at 170o/c for 10-12 mins, cut off overhang and return to oven for 7 mins
    7. 7. When out of oven brush with egg yolk to seal

    FOR THE FILLING:

    200ml double cream

    440ml raspberry puree

    12 free range eggs

    340g caster sugar

    1. 1. Blend all ingredients together by whisking
    2. 2. Pre-heat oven to 120 o/c
    3. 3. Pass mix through a sieve and chill for 20 minutes
    4. 4. Remove froth from top and discard
    5. 5. Place the cooked pastry case on a baking tray in the oven.
    6. 6. Carefully pour the mix almost to the very top
    7. 7. Cook for approx. 45 minutes or until there is still a slight wobble when the tray is moved
    8. 8. Remove and allow to cool down
    9. 9. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
    10. 10. When needed cut and serve.

    FOR THE BISCUIT:

    95g cold butter diced small

    95g caster sugar and 60g caster sugar – separate

    385g self-raising flour – sieved

    250g mix of currants quite finely chopped

    90ml whole milk

    1 egg white, lightly beaten

    1. 1. In a food processor, mix the butter, 95g sugar, the flour and a pinch of salt to form a breadcrumb texture.
    2. 2. Add 80g of the currants, then gradually add the milk and mix together well. Shape the mixture into a smooth dough, wrap in clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge for about 40 minutes.
    3. 3. Meanwhile, add the rest of the currants to the food processor with three to four tablespoons of water and blend to a coarse paste. Divide the chilled pastry in two and roll each piece out on silicone or grease-proof paper to make even-sized squares, about 5mm thick. Leave to chill for a further 30 minutes.
    4. 4. Remove the rolled pastry from the fridge and spread the fruit mixture over one square. Carefully place the other pastry sheet on top. Run the rolling pin over the pastry to make sure it is flat and the fruit is evenly distributed and return to the fridge for another 30 minutes.
    5. 5. Preheat the oven to 190C/gas mark 5.Cut the pastry square into 10 to 15 rectangular strips. Mix the egg white with 30g of the remaining caster sugar and brush over the pastry. Scatter the rest of the sugar evenly over the top and bake in the oven for eight minutes, or until golden.
    6. 6. Leave to cool and store in an airtight container.

Things to Pack

Heading outdoors with a picnic hamper is one of the best things to do in summer, but not having the right items can make it unnecessarily stressful instead of relaxing and fun.

Choose equipment careful! A leaky icebox or heated potato salad can ensure your picnic takes a turn for the worse. Check all your items (cool box, Tupperware, bottles and such) are in good working order before you fill them up and wrap anything with a strong smell in a plastic bag. If you’re bringing wine glasses, it’s worth bringing a tray to put them on during use (wine glasses can be tricky to balance on uneven grass). Oh, and don’t forget to bring a bottle stopper if your wine has a cork!

Also consider your picnic guests. Maybe all you need is a blanket, but perhaps you need to throw in some cushions or a small seat. Or maybe you need a full out picnic bench for a larger group along with a lot of food and drink that you’re bringing along. This will also influence where you actually picnic, as not all spots have benches.

Fun Activities

This all depends on what kind of picnic vibe you’re looking for. Who’s coming to your picnic? Where are you going? Do you want a relaxing lay down in nature, or do you want things to fill your time while you’re out in the sunshine?

Depending on how you answer these questions, your chosen games and activities could range from a book to a pack of cards to a board game like chess or flying kites. Or you could combine your picnic with a trip out! It could be that you take a hike around the area you’re picnicking in, visit a country estate and check out the stately home or manor, or you could even combine the picnic with an outdoor sport, like cricket, golf, fishing, or cycling.

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