Perfect Ploughman’s Picnic Loaf

From Ainsley’s Good Mood Food, ITV

All the flavours of a classic Ploughman’s lunch in a fantastic stuffed sandwich – yum! I’ve made quick pickled onions and radish to add a nice tang and texture, but feel free to use a jar of pickled onions if you prefer. You can mix up the ingredients according to what you have available (slices of boiled egg are a tasty addition), but I think a good quality Cheddar cheese is essential for a Ploughman’s and I love a good quality ham. If you don’t like blue cheese you can swap the Stilton mayo with a layer of your favourite soft cheese. The amount of meat and cheese needed can be adjusted according to the size of your loaf.


First, make the quick pickled onion and radish. Put the red onion in a sieve and slowly pour over a full kettle of boiling water. Drain well. In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, vinegar, sugar and salt, then add the onion and the radish slices. Mix well then set aside to pickle.

In a small bowl mix the crumbled Stilton with the mayonnaise.

Use a serrated knife to slice off the top of the loaf. Scoop out the bread from the middle of the loaf using your fingers, leaving a 2cm border ( you can save the scooped out bread for making breadcrumbs).

Spread a layer of piccalilli on the bottom of the loaf then layer the cheese and ham slices until half-way up the loaf, pushing down the layers as you go. Spoon over the Stilton mayo and top with a layer of apple slices Drain the pickled radish and onion and spoon on top. Continue layering the ham and cheese then top with a layer of cucumber (if using) and finish with watercress. Spread the remaining piccalilli on the underside of the loaf lid and replace on top of the loaf, pressing down firmly. Tightly wrap the loaf in cling film, place on a baking tray and place another tray on top. Use a few cans or weights to weigh down the top tray and leave for a minimum of 2 hours in a cool place, or chill overnight. Cut into thick slices or wedges to serve.



  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 80g stilton, crumbled
  • 2-3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • round cob loaf approx. 500g
  • 3-4 tbsp piccalilli or chutney
  • thinly sliced Cheddar cheese (or half Cheddar/half Red Leicester)
  • good quality sliced ham
  • 1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cucumber, sliced (optional)
  • large handful of watercress