Gorgeous oat crumble breakfast bars with plum and cinnamon filling are great for your sweet tooth breakfast or as a sweet-but-healthy snack.
How much sugar for breakfast?
Let me first make it clear: I am not saying we should never eat sweet things for breakfast. I am the furthest from taking a stance of a breakfast dictator.
There is a myriad of breakfast habits across the globe, from congee in China to a croissant in France; from tapsilog in the Philippines to ciambella cake in Italy.
There isn’t a pattern, though rather counterintuitively, warm cooked breakfasts are more common in warmer climes.
I know, you’ll hit me now with a full English, but does anyone actually really have it every day, apart from people with tough, physical occupations who can spare the time?
Full English? Not so bad
As much as all the wellness gurus recoil in horror before a full fry-up, it is actually in my view better to have than a bowl of sugar – erm, I mean Frosties or Coco Pops - that quite a few of those gurus feed their children.
Warranted your day is spent in hard, manual labour, a hefty portion of protein and fat first thing is just the ticket.
While the so called ‘healthy option’ of cereal, if it is a shop-bought cheapie, especially the big brands, results in your kid slumping over their maths coursebook mid-morning.
I experienced the negative effects of sugary breakfast recently myself.
We usually treat ourselves to homemade cake for breakfast on weekend mornings, while reading the paper.
Even though I do, for our consumption if not in all my recipes, cut down on sugar in my baking, it is still an undeniably sweet breakfast. I found myself getting really dozy around mid-morning, not able to focus and longing to just curl up on the sofa – until lunch.
So I had to switch, and now I have an indulgent porridge or overnight oats, both of which – even though sweetened with honey – are slow-burning, slow-release breakfasts I function much better on.
And I have the cake for afters at lunchtime.
Can breakfast bars be healthy?
‘Breakfast bars’ is a bit of dichotomy, unless you mean that someone opens a hospitality outlet serving breakfast.
The type of confection that bars are immediately suggests it’s a snack: not something to be eaten on a plate with a fork but rather grabbed with your hand and carried around while going about your business.
So I spent a considerable amount of time trying to develop a recipe for bars that would not induce a sugar slump.
What I present here is still a sweet confection, make no mistake, but I have tried to do better than some recipe authors, who basically tell us to bake a cake, cut it into squares and have it for breakfast. Which is not such a horrible thing, as long as they don’t taut it ‘healthy’.
My breakfast bars
My version is seriously reduced in sugar, it is based on oats and the filling is made from gorgeous damson plums. That has the added advantage of being beneficial towards your metabolism, as plums and prunes famously help keep you regular.
The bars are still sweetened, with brown sugar, since I’ve found that trying to bake confections with next to no sugar is a bit pointless. You might as well just have a bowl of oats topped with some plums.
If you fancy something fancier than that, here goes.
How to make plum crumble bars
The base and the crumble topping is the same pastry mix, which needs no chilling, resting or rolling out. It is as easy to make it by rubbing butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers, as it is with a mixer.
You’ll end up with loose crumbs, half and a bit of which will be transferred into a parchment-lined square tin. You’ll press those crumbs down into the bottom of the tin with your fingers or a wet back of a spoon, to form the base.
Blind baking will be needed but only briefly, and without weighing the pastry down with beans – it’s not shortcrust after all.
The filling is made from finely chopped damson plums, the riper the nicer they’ll mush up, with some cornflour to hold it together, some lemon juice, brown sugar and lots of cinnamon.
The filling will be spread over slightly cooled base and the reserved pastry crumbs, enlivened with almond flakes, showered all over the plums.
Baking the whole thing won’t take longer than forty-five minutes and the scent permeating the house will be divine.
Once the pastry is cooled in the tin, you can cut it into bars.
And have them for breakfast or, as I will probably do, for a mid-morning snack.
More breakfast bar recipes
Homemade oatmeal and dried fruit bars are perfect for breakfast or as a mid-morning snack when it's just too early for lunch.
Rice flake breakfast bars lightly sweetened with maple syrup and apricot jam topping: a healthy option with lots of fibre from poha, dry rice flakes.
Lemon and blueberry flapjacks, easy to make and much healthier than off-the-shelf bars, naturally flavoured with lemon juice and zest, with freeze-dried blueberries.
More plum recipes
Gloriously buttery brioche base with syrupy plums sitting on it in rows, and all of it smothered in crunchy, melting, cinnamon crumble. Warm or cold, it’s divine.
Short ribs of beef, oven braised on the bone with plums and ginger, turn completely black; only when you cut through the meat the pinkish colour peeks through.
The best and the easiest plum cake with crumble topping is German streusel cake and it's brilliant every time.