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oats and dried fruit bars

Updated: Fri, 15 January, 2021

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Homemade oatmeal and dried fruit bars are perfect for breakfast or as a mid-morning snack when it's just too early for lunch. So much better than the shop bought cereal or granola bars.

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh.

A A Milne

So indeed, what's for breakfast?

You can have a scrambled egg. Boring, I know, but good for weight watching: no bread just egg, the strict way. You can have cereal out of the packet or homemade granola.

Or my favourite combo of soft fruit mashed up with a fork and a good dollop of fromage frais or cream cheese and a drizzle of honey.

You can have a hipster smoothie which is free of everything that tastes of something. Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, a full fry-up which is naughty.

Breakfast bars

You can also have a breakfast bar, usually bought from Pret or one of the Jordan ones. It a/ is tasty, b/ makes you feel good about yourself (healthy! cereal! seeds!) and c/ it is the easiest thing to tear open a packet and feel like you're eating a Mars bar in the morning.

But as pretty much everything with minor exceptions (erm... Coca Cola?) homemade trumps shop-bought. And it's stupidly easy to whip up a tray of cereal bars made with oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruit.

These oat bars are delicious little things, so nice that you can’t have just ONE for breakfast. In fact, as I tell myself, one would simply not be enough to keep me going until lunch, so I usually have three.

How to make cereal bars

I've found the recipe in Good Food magazine and tweaked it a little, adding seeds and nuts.

It is not much more complicated to make them than to mix your own muesli bowl. All the dry ingredients go into a large bowl. To that you add all the liquid ones and it's not even necessary to mix them together beforehand. Just stir in the melted butter, the golden syrup, eggs and orange essence.

Pack the mix into a tin - I line it with parchment because I'm too lazy to wash it up - and slip into the oven. They are ready when the surface is set.

Can you make vegan bars?

Of course you can: just replace the butter with either dairy free butter or with coconut oil. They might be a little more crumbly in that version so you might want to add a teaspoon more flour to the mix.

What fruit and nut mix to use?

The store cupboard is your oyster. You can use only raisins and be boring like that, or clear out said cupboard of whatever nearly empty bags of fruit you want rid of. I sometimes pack them with the dried fruit I like the least because I know the bars will taste divine anyway regardless of the specific contents. They are magic like that.

Likewise nuts and seeds: use whatever you have, whatever you like or whatever you like not so much.


oats and dried fruit bars

Servings: 16-18 barsTime: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 150g (1 cup plus 2 tbsp.) plain flour
  • 112 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 150g (134 cup) jumbo porridge oats
  • 150g (34 cup) brown or muscovado sugar
  • 150g (1 cup) mixed dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, raisins, sultanas, chopped up apricots or figs)
  • 100g (34 cup) mixed seeds and nuts (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flaked almonds, chopped pistachio or hazelnuts)
  • 150g (10 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tbsp. golden syrup or honey
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp orange extract (or any other essence you’re partial to)


METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/400F/gas 4. Line a 20x30cm baking tray with parchment.

2. Mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, sugar, oats, dried fruit and seeds in a large bowl, then add all the liquid ingredients. Mix well. Spoon into the tin and spread evenly with a spatula.

3. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the surface is well set.

4. Cool in the tin, then cut into 16-18 bars, cutting more or less generously depending on how hungry you are.

5. Keep in an airtight tin. They’ll keep well for at least a week (although that has never happened in my house; they usually last three days tops).

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