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Recipes from Wild Magic by Fern Freud

For those who love wild food

Published: February 24, 2023

“Foraging encompasses everything I love to do: spending time in the great outdoors, cooking wholesome, beautiful food, learning and sharing amazing and inspiring tales from history, anthropology and folklore.

I started foraging with my family on the South Downs when I was a kid. We used to go out on long walks, collect one of each type of mushroom we came across and take them home. There, we’d spread them across the kitchen table and leaf through dusty old books until we got a positive identification. And that was that: I was hooked! I taught myself a lot about foraging, herbalism and wild food and learned plenty from some truly inspiring teachers". 

Extracted from Wild Magic by Fern Freud (Ebury Press, £16.99)

Parasol mushroom goujons

These herby, crunchy mushroom goujons are so good. As in, good enough to put your chicken nuggets in the bin. We make these deliciously crispy, herby breadcrumbed morsels hiding perfectly cooked, meaty mushroom whenever we find parasols and when they’re out of season, we use portobello mushrooms.


½ small loaf of sourdough bread 

1 tsp finely ground sea salt

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1 tbsp finely chopped herbs, such as ground ivy or rosemary

2 eggs (for a vegan substitute, use 90g chickpea flour mixed with 125ml plant milk)

60g plain flour

2 large parasol caps

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Vegetable oil, for frying

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.

2. Break the bread into small chunks and arrange them on a baking tray in a single layer. Bake for around 15 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely, then blitz in a food processor until you have breadcrumbs.

3. Add the salt and herbs to the breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Put this in a bowl and put aside.

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4. In another bowl, break the eggs and whisk with a fork. (For the vegan alternative, simply combine the flour and plant milk.) Place the flour in another bowl.

5. Cut the mushroom caps into rough goujon shapes, around 6–7cm (2–3in) in length.

6. Put a few centimetres of oil into a high-sided frying pan and heat over a medium-high heat until a crumb sizzles when dropped in.

7. Create an assembly line and move your mushrooms down the line, coating the mushrooms chunks first in flour, then in egg and finally in breadcrumbs. When the mushrooms are coated, add them to the oil, working in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan.

8. Cook each goujon for around 2–3 minutes on all four sides until golden brown and crispy all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Toffee apple doughnuts

I’m not the biggest fan of toffee apples, but I love traditional foods that go with traditional celebrations! So, here’s my spin on a toffee apple – soft, fluffy doughnuts filled with spiced apple sauce and drizzled with a toffee sauce made with a good pinch of smoked sea salt for a smoky bonfire night flavour.


1½ tbsp ground flaxseed

100ml cold water

375g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

300g caster sugar

10g instant dried yeast

30g dairy-free butter

7g superfine salt

145ml oat milk

60ml warm water

1 litre vegetable oil, for frying

For the filling

400g peeled, cored and cubed crab apples

65g soft light brown sugar

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp cornflour 

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the toffee sauce

120g coconut cream

80g soft light brown sugar

½ tbsp cornflour 

Pinch of smoked sea salt (optional)

To decorate

6 clean oak twigs

6 bay leaves

1. Make a flaxseed egg by combining the ground flaxseed and cold water in a small bowl. Leave for 20 minutes until it reaches a gelatinous consistency.

2. Place the flour, 40g of the sugar and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and combine. Add the butter, salt, flaxseed egg and oat milk. Use the dough hook attachment and mix on a slow speed while slowly pouring in the warm water.

3. When the ingredients are combined and you have used all the water, continue to knead in the mixer on a slow setting for around 8 minutes until you have an elastic, smooth and shiny dough.

4. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a waxed cloth or damp towel until doubled in sized.

5. Dust a work surface with flour and tip your dough out and pull the edges of the dough in to form a ball. Sprinkle a rolling pin with flour and roll the dough to around 2cm (¾in) thick.

6. Fill a small, heavy-based saucepan three-quarters full with vegetable oil and heat to 180°C (350°F), or until a small piece of dough rises to the surface and very gently bubbles around the edges. You may need to top up the oil in between each doughnut.

7. Use a round cutter to cut six doughnuts and leave to rise for 10 minutes, or until the dough bounces back when pressed.

8. To fry the doughnuts, use a floured spatula to transfer one doughnut at a time to your hot oil and fry for about 2 minutes on each side until golden brown in colour. Remove with tongs and place on kitchen towel to soak up any excess oil. Before the doughnuts cool, roll in the remaining caster sugar and set aside while you make the filling.

9. Put all the ingredients for the filling into a saucepan and cook over a low heat for about 25 minutes, or until you have chunks of apple suspended in a silky sauce. Stir from time to time. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

10. In another small pan, heat the coconut cream, sugar and cornflour over a medium heat, stirring constantly. When the mixture begins to develop a foamy texture, lower the heat and continue stirring for 5 minutes. Add a pinch of smoked salt, if using. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

11. Cut small crosses into the top of each doughnut. Put the filling into a piping bag fitted with a small nozzle and fill each doughnut with roughly one-sixth of the filling. Place a clean wooden twig and a leaf into the top (make sure the twig and leaf are both from a nontoxic plant). Drizzle over the toffee sauce and enjoy!

Parasol mushroom goujons

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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