Category Archives: Baking

Recipe: Cyclists’ chewy granola bars

I don’t know about you, but there are only so many gels that I can handle whilst out on a long run or bike ride before I start to feel queasy. They have their place, as do handfuls of jelly babies when a quick hit of sugar is needed to keep the wall at bay, but when I’m wanting something a little slower releasing to stoke the engine, I’ve increasingly found myself reaching for proper food to nibble on instead, like chewy granola bars and flapjacks.

Energy bars from companies like getbuzzing are really nice- they’re palatable, easily portable and full of slow releasing goodness to keep me pedalling or running. Unfortunately they’re also pretty expensive, so after some extensive research into how to make that perfect sticky texture that will stay portable and not crumble all over my handlebars, I present my cyclists’ chewy granola bars.

cyclists' chewy granola bars

The recipe is a super adaptable formula, to use up whatever you like your fuel to taste of, or whatever you happen to have in the cupboard. It also doesn’t matter what size cup you use, as long as it’s the same one to measure all of the ingredients in! I used a standard size coffee mug, but if you go bigger, just use a slightly larger cake tin.

Ingredients:

1) Rolled grains  –  2 1/2 cups
I used jumbo porridge oats for the bars above.
2) Nuts, seeds & spices – 1 cup
    I used a mixture of milled linseed, chopped brazil nuts and walnuts and a spoonful of sunflower        seeds, with a teaspoon of ground cinammon.
3) Sticky sweetener – 1/3 cup + 1/4 cup
I used honey, but other ideas include maple syrup or molasses.
4) Dried fruits – 1 cup
Here is where you can empty the cupboard- I used chopped dates, raisins & cranberries.
5) Binder – 1 cup
I used half apple sauce and half almond butter here, but pureed dried fruit or other nut butters          would work too.

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and grease and line a 23cmx23cm brownie tin.
  • Pop all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, and the sweetener and binder in a saucepan.
  • Warm through and stir together the binder and the sweetener, and then pour over the dry ingredients.
  • Flex those guns and give the ingredients a really good mix- the oats, fruit and nuts should just be sticking together, and the mix should feel quite ‘stiff’ to stir.
  • Pop the mix in the lined tin and press it down firmly and levelly with the back of a spatula, then bake for 25 minutes.
  • Allow to cool at room temperature until the tin is cool to the touch, and then transfer to the fridge for an hour to finish setting.
  • Remove from the tin and cut into whatever size bar best fits your snack preference and pocket size, and devour on your next adventure 😉

Recipe adapted from the excellent Brown Eyed Baker website.

Recipe: Peanut butter & white chocolate blondies

During winter, training can be a demoralizing experience. You’re either out running, battling driving winds and rain, and chilly extremities, or you’re out braving the elements on a bike, trying to remember what it feels like to have toes, and wondering how many miles are left to go until the cafe stop, where it may or may not be socially acceptable to spoon the radiator (shut up, you’ve probably done it too). With weather like this, I think it’s important to have something tasty waiting at home for you.

I’m not going to claim these peanut butter & white chocolate blondies are perfect recovery food, because the ingredients list isn’t the healthiest ever, but unlike most cakes they have a hit of protein and some fibre, and if you teamed one up with a glass of milk and a banana, or even ate it warm with a big dollop of vanilla yoghurt, it’d be a pretty indulgent but balanced recovery snack. The sweetness of the white chocolate is balanced out by the slight saltiness of the butter and the gloriously crunchy peanut butter. Yum!

Peanut butter & white chocolate blondies

 

Ingredients

  • 100g softened salted butter
  • 150g good quality crunchy peanut butter*
  • 175g soft light brown sugar
  • 3 large free-range eggs (because happy chickens make for better cake. Fact.)
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt
  • 125g plain wholemeal flour
  • 200g white chocolate, chopped into small chunks

Method

 Peanut butter & white chocolate blondiesPeanut butter & white chocolate blondies

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C/Gas Mark 3 & line the bottom of a 20x20cm brownie tin with greaseproof paper.

Cream together the softened butter & the yummy crunchy peanut butter, followed by the sugar, and then beat in the eggs, vanilla extract and salt.

http://www.rosiesgreatbakes.com/2013/06/peanut-butter-white-chocolate-blondies.html#more

Add the flour and mix thoroughly, then gently fold in the big pile of white chocolate (and try not to eat it all. I promise it’s worth it.)

Pour into the lined tin and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a knife inserted into the middle just comes out clean- if anything, you want these delights slightly gooey in the middle.

Peanut butter & white chocolate blondiesPeanut butter & white chocolate blondies

Devour! These also make a pretty good pud if you warm them through & serve with vanilla ice cream 😉

*A note about the peanut butter

You’re probably already aware of MyProtein as a source of dietary supplements & protein powders, but they’ve expanded their horizons and now offer a pretty good Women’s Fitness section of the website, that’s a lot less all about ‘dem guns and more about the right nutrition for your chosen sport- including whole foods, like this peanut butter. I try to buy PB that is just made from nuts and nothing else, but it’s normally pretty expensive (Whole Earth, I’m looking at you!), so was really happy to see pure peanut butter sold by the kilo at pretty good prices on their site. Happy days!

(I was given store credit for the MyProtein website in return for trying some products from the Women’s Fitness section of the site and writing about them, but the content and blondies are allllll mine!)

Recipe adapted from here (her Chocolate Orange Brownies are to die for too!)

Festive fuelling: Christmas flapjacks

Never one to shy away from a baking experiment, I have to say I’m quite proud of how this one turned out- flapjacks crammed with Christmassy goodness that are passably healthy and far less guilt-inducing than mince pies.

Ingredients:
100g dried cranberries
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2-3tbsp runny honey
25g demerera sugar
125g butter
1 tsp almond extract
75g of nuts (I used a mix of flaked almonds and chopped hazelnuts)
1tsp mixed spice
150g-200g porridge oats
Icing sugar (optional)
Zest and juice of half an orange (optional)

Method:

  • Grease and line a 20cm ish square tin and preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Pop the cranberries and bicarb soda in a saucepan and just cover with cold water. Bring them to the boil and let them simmer until the juice starts to go pink and a bit syrupy. I mashed some of the cranberries with the back of a spoon and left some whole.
  • Melt in the honey, demerera sugar and butter until you have a pan of syrupy pale red weird-looking stuff (stick with me here) and take the pan off the heat.
  • At the same time, in a non-stick frying pan with no oil in, gently toast the nuts until your kitchen smells positively delightful (no burnt nuts though. Burnt nuts are never good).
  • Stir the now toasted nuts, the mixed spice and the almond extract into the pan and then add the oats. Start off with 150g and then judge from there if more oats are needed- the mix needs to be holding together okay but not runny- it should be pretty hard to stir when it’s right.
  • Tip into the tin and bake for 20 minutes.
  • For an extra festive touch and if you can resist scoffing them all from the oven, leave them ’till they’re cool and make a simple icing by mixing the zest and juice of half an orange with some icing sugar until nice and thick, and drizzle it over the flapjacks.
  • When the icing has set, dig in and devour whilst listening to The Pogues and pondering if it’s acceptable to have eaten most of your advent calendar by mid-December (shut up, you all do it too).

Recipe: date and walnut flapjacks

I’m in the process of trying to use up the contents of my cupboards before I leave uni for the summer, and had an abundance of walnuts (god knows why I buy such random things). After a spot of googling and discounting a Nigella recipe, I found this recipe for date and walnut flapjacks, and it seemed perfect- crammed full of yummy goodness to fuel me up for running.

Ingredients
125g unsalted butter/Flora
1 tbsp runny honey
25g caster sugar
100g chopped dates
1/4 tsp bicarb soda
50g walnut pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g (ish) oats

Method
Grease and line an 8″ ish square tin. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Put the chopped dates, bicarb soda and just enough water to cover them in a saucepan, heat gently and simmer for about 5 minutes until they go all syrupy and make your kitchen smell of toffee.

Add the butter, sugar, honey and vanilla extract to the pan and allow to melt until you have a big sticky pan of gooey temptation- but if you can avoid dipping fingers/spoons/biscuits in this, it’ll be worth it.

Stir in the walnuts and then the oats. If the mixture seems too gooey, keep adding oats until it’s the right sort of consistency.

Pop the mixture in the tin and bake for around 20 minutes, until firm and golden.

They don’t set quite as hard as normal flapjacks, but are absolutely yummy- and also taste slightly like sticky toffee pud, which is a big win in my book.

(Recipe source: here)

Chocolate mug cake recipe.

Any regular readers of this blog or people who follow me on Twitter will doubtless be aware that I am a little lady with a huge appetite, and rarely see big cakes as anything more than a challenge- my family joke that if a series of Woman vs Food is ever commissioned, I should be the presenter.

Sometimes though, I don’t want to make a full-size cake that will hang around for days, that I’ll eat purely because it’s there and I’m bored. Sometimes, I just want one piece of cake, that I can knock up quickly and devour there and then. Enter chocolate mug cake, the saviour of students without cake tins everywhere!

Grab yourself a big mug (the kind you drink coffee out of when you’re knackered) and put in:

3 tbsp plain flour
2 tsp cocoa powder
1/8 tsp bicarb soda
A pinch of salt
2 tbsp sugar (I used caster but I’m sure any will work)

Then stir in:

2 tsp veg oil
2 tbsp water
1/4 tsp vanilla essence/extract

Stir it all together and pop in the microwave- mine is an 800W one, and I find 2 or 3 blasts of 30 seconds usually does the trick- when it looks quite fudgey and cakey, it’s done. It’s nice with ice cream or a blob of creme fraiche, or it’s equally nice on its own. Perfect post-run when the cake tin is empty and so is your belly. Also good eaten in front of a bad romcom in your pyjamas (wait, no, I’m judging everyone by my habits again.)

Earl grey tea loaf recipe.

As you’ll know from my tweets, which are 90% based around food, I am a little lady with a big appetite and a huge cake habit. Running occasionally makes this habit legitimate ‘fuelling’, and this recipe is one of those occasions. As much as I love malt loaf as a pre-workout snack, it can get boring after a few consecutive loaves of Soreen, so I make this tea loaf instead.

The only fat content is from the single egg in the recipe, which means this cake is lovely and light on the stomach, and easily digested before a run, gym session or race. It’s packed with dried fruit for energy, and to lower the GI (something I learned from Go Faster Food), it’s made with demerara sugar, which releases energy more slowly than refined white sugar. I’m also going to have a try at making it with wholemeal flour sometime too, but for now I’m reluctant to tamper with it- a slice and a cup of coffee makes a good snack or light breakfast before a run!

Update: The lovely Stephanie of Riverside Baking made this cake recently (with gluten-free flour, so it still works for any lovely coeliac readers out there) and kindly sent me some photos! 

Ingredients
225g dried mixed fruit (I used sultanas and raisins, but any dried fruit will do!)
300ml tepid tea (I’ve made it with Earl Grey and English Breakfast and both are yummy)
250g self-raising flour
200g soft light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg

Method
1. Pop the dried fruit and tea in a large bowl, cover with a clean cloth and leave to soak overnight, until the fruit is plump and juicy- it won’t soak up all of the tea though!
2. The next day, preheat the oven to 175C/375F/Gas 3 and grease and line a large loaf tin- mine is a 2lb one, I think.
3. Add the flour, sugar, egg and spices to the bowl with the fruit and mix well.
4. Pop the mixture in the loaf tin and bake for 75 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
5. Remove the cake from the tin, remove the greaseproof paper, and leave it to cool covered with a cloth (so the outside stays moist).

The recipe (from Simon Rimmer, on Something for the Weekend) says to eat this cake spread with butter and jam, but I think that’d be sugar overload- it’s juicy and sweet enough without! If you can resist eating the whole lot warm from the oven, leave it in an airtight tin for a day, and when you come back to it, it’ll have become more wonderfully moist and sweet- but I’ve yet to manage not to tuck in straight away…

Let me know if you make it and how it turns out!

Healthy banana cake recipe

Whilst I am by no means a glamorous food blogger, I do have a cake recipe up my sleeve that:
a) Can make a grown man swoon (the boyfriend)
b) Is cheap to make
c) Is very easy to make
and d) Is really very healthy as cake goes.

That got your attention? Good. Here it is.

Ingredients
85ml of Flora Cuisine
75g caster sugar or demerara sugar
150g plain wholemeal flour
75g plain white flour
2tsp baking powder
1tsp mixed spice
4 ripe bananas
2 eggs, beaten

Method
1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5/180 degrees C.
2. Grease and line a 23cm/9in square brownie tin
3. Mash the bananas with a fork until properly gooey, and beat the eggs in a separate bowl.
4. Pop all the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl, then stir in the Flora Cuisine, eggs and mashed banana until just combined. (Warning: as cake mixture goes, this one is lumpy and ugly…)
5. Pour the mixture into the tin and roughly level the top.
6. Pop on the middle shelf of the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife stuck into the middle only has a couple of crumbs stick to it.
7. Pop on a wire cooling rack and allow to cool, then cut into 16 squares and devour any time- breakfast (it’s virtuous cake), pre-run, post-run, carb loading for a race- any time really.