As St.George’s Day falls at the end of this month (April 23 to be precise), I started to think of those English (or British) classics that we all love so much. I asked my followers on social media to share their favourites and coming out top, by a long way, was Toad in the Hole. This was swiftly pursued by a good roast, beef stew and a range of puddings, all of which seemed to trigger happy childhood memories in many.

Toad in the Hole it is, then (never knowingly made with amphibians), followed by a nip across the water to Northern Ireland for the perfect side dish, all rounded off with a pud that reminds me of cooking with my lovely mum, Pamela.


Great British Life: Toad in the holeToad in the hole (Image: Julie Friend)

Sage & onion Toad in the Hole recipe

I have made a smallish version here, but you’ll see from the way the batter is made (by weight) that you can scale up quite easily and just add more sausages.

The dish I used is ceramic and is 26cm x 18cm. Metal or enamel tins work well, too.

Make your batter in advance as it needs to stand for at least an hour (I have even made it the day before and kept in the fridge overnight).


Serves 2 -3

• 2 large eggs

• Plain flour (same volume as eggs – see method)

• Semi-skimmed milk (as above)

• 3 tablespoons sparkling water

• 1 tablespoon grain or English mustard

• 6 tablespoons of vegetable oil (or melted lard)

• 4 good quality, butcher’s sausages

• 2 shallots or a medium red onion (around 150g), thinly sliced

• Around 10 leaves of fresh sage

• Knob of butter


To make the batter, break the eggs into a measuring jug. Whatever the volume they reach (mine were 115ml), measure the same in plain flour and milk.

Whisk together until no visible lumps. Add the sparkling water (which will help keep the batter light and not tough), a good pinch of salt and pepper and the mustard. Whisk again and then leave to stand at room temperature for at least an hour.

Warm 2 tbsp oil and the knob of butter in a pan and fry the shallots/onion on a medium heat for around 10 minutes until beginning to soften.

Add the sausages to the pan and colour the outsides (you don’t need to cook them all the way through as the oven will do that)

Shred 6 of the sage leaves and add to the pan briefly, before putting all the contents into the baking dish along with any residual fat and add the extra 4 tablespoons oil.

6. Put into a hot oven (220C) for 5 minutes to get heated up before adding your batter.

7. Remove the dish and pour the batter around the sausages. Put back into the oven (keep that door firmly shut!) for a further 35 minutes or until the batter is well risen and deep, golden brown.

8. Garnish with a couple more sage leaves.


Great British Life: ChampChamp (Image: Julie Friend)

Northern Ireland Champ recipe

Champ, hugely popular in Northern Ireland, is the perfect side dish to have with your Toad in the Hole. Although it is simply buttery mash with softened spring onions (or scallions) that addition somehow elevates the humble spud to another level.


• Around 800g floury potatoes like Maris Piper, peeled and cut into golfball-sized chunks

• 125ml milk

• 80g butter (plus extra for serving)

• 1 bunch Spring onions, thinly sliced

• Salt and pepper


Boil your potatoes in a large pan of well salted water until soft. Drain and leave in the colander to dry out a little.

Meanwhile, in a small pan put the milk, butter and Spring onions on a low heat until the butter melts and the onions soften somewhat.

Mash your potatoes to the consistency you prefer (some people like the odd lump) then add your milky mixture. Beat well together.

Season with sea salt and black pepper and serve with another knob of butter for good measure.


Great British Life: Pineapple upside down cakePineapple upside down cake (Image: Julie Friend)

Pineapple upside down Pudding recipe

A childhood favourite in our household and one which I often made with my mum. I was usually in charge of pineapple design and the very important positioning of glacé cherries. As most larders won’t include this retro ingredient, I have found that black grapes, cut in half, work just as well.


Serves 6-8

For the pineapple layer

• 1 (432g) tin of pineapple rings (keep the juice to drink, plus a couple of tbsp for the batter)

• 30g soft dark brown sugar

• 55g softened butter (plus a little for greasing the tin)

• Around 8-10 glace cherries

For the sponge

• 110g softened butter or baking spread

• 110g caster sugar

• 2 large eggs

• 110g self-raising flour

• 1tsp vanilla extract

• 2 tbsp pineapple juice

• 1/2tsp baking powder

First prepare the pineapple layer. Butter the sides of a 20cm solid bottomed baking tin.

Mix the softened butter and dark brown sugar together until all combined and spread over the base of the tin.

Arrange the pineapple rings in a pattern of your choice and pop the glacé cherries into the gaps.

Now the sponge. With a stand or hand mixer (or wooden spoon and elbow grease) beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until lighter in colour and texture.

Add the eggs and mix again, then add the flour, baking powder and pineapple juice.

Spoon the batter onto the pineapple pattern and smooth the top.

Bake at 180C for around 30-35 minutes or until a skewer or cocktail stick comes out clean from the middle.

Allow to stand for a couple of minutes then turn out onto your serving plate. Delicious with cream or ice cream.