My recipe for the Great British Pub by Candice Brown

My parents ran pubs for 25 years, so I suppose they really do run in my blood. I’m used to all the variations that pub life has to offer: the different kinds of establishment, people from all walks of life, the beer and drinks — and of course, the food. Pub grub! For me, the…

My parents ran pubs for 25 years, so I suppose they really do run in my blood. I’m used to all the variations that pub life has to offer: the different kinds of establishment, people from all walks of life, the beer and drinks — and of course, the food. Pub grub! For me, the best kind of food served in a pub is good old-fashioned comfort food. Simple classics, revisited and brought up to date. Straightforward food cooked perfectly will always win out over soulless and over-complicated dishes. Food that evokes nostalgic memories, leaves you feeling warm, contented and wanting seconds.

You can think of a pub as somewhere for a pint and a packet of scampi fries (and I’m in no way adverse to that kind of pub experience), but nowadays we’re lucky enough to have an abundance of beautiful, independently minded pubs serving an array of real ales and craft beers, in sumptuous yet cosy surroundings, and delivering delicious, high-quality food.

This for me is the epitome of a Great British Pub. Food that is well thought out, sourced as close to home as possible to support local and small businesses, and making the best of the seasonal produce the UK is lucky enough to have. Winter gives us hand-raised pies filled with melt-in-the-mouth beef cooked in ale and served with creamy mash and gravy. Spring offers lamb dishes of all kinds, locally grown asparagus and vegetables made into light yet satisfying soups.

Summer provides stunning fruits and berries, woven into delicious puddings and cakes. This harvest is something I look forward to each year, whether it’s for a simple victoria sponge with strawberries and fresh cream or for making jam to be used at a later date. Not to mention fresh seafood: crab at its sweetest and simply grilled salmon. Autumn is my favourite season for food; as the nights grow darker and cooler, the produce reflects this. Rich game, apples and blackberries picked fresh from the tree or bush and put straight into crumbles and pies.

Running my own pub

In 2018, my brother Ben and I took over the Green Man pub in Eversholt, Buckinghamshire. Having my own pub has given me the opportunity to put my love for (and memories of) the Great British Pub into a place I’m truly proud of. We’ve turned a small village pub into a thriving centre for the community, decked out with antiques and cosy chesterfields. We serve local ales, wines to suit all tastes and have the pickings from our own fruit trees and bramble bushes to include on our menu. Our food is simple, comforting and big. Desserts cause arguments and nearly everyone has a second helping. Our pub is the sort of pub I’d like to go to! A place where you start with a quick drink and a little bit of lunch, but end up settling down in front of the fire, drinking red wine and staying for dinner, with the promise of returning sooner rather than later.

Favourite pub: Swan Inn 2 Hare Lane, Claygate, Surrey KT10 9BS

My dear friend José Pizarro, the Spanish chef and restaurateur, has recently opened this gastropub in Surrey and it really is a stunner. Beautiful, cosseting, the ambience is perfect and the food — well, it’s to die for.

Born in North London, Candice Brown grew up in the pubs that her parents ran. Taught to bake by her beloved Nan, she won The Great British Bake Off TV series in 2016 and has since become a regular columnist for the Sunday Times’ food magazine Dish. In her spare time, you can find Candice walking her dogs Dennis, Albus and Sybil, in the stands at Tottenham, at the rugby with her dad or settling down to a great big Sunday roast with her family. Her latest book Happy Cooking: Easy uplifting meals and comforting treats is published by Ebury Press.