The Musette: oat bars

Prior to heading out for a morning ride, what can we eat that’s quick, filling and packed with energy? The answer is my oat bars. They’re much softer and contain far less sugar and fat than, say, a typical flapjack and are therefore much easier to digest and are, dare I say it, better for you. I often whip up a batch on Friday evening to keep us going over the weekend. They’re also the right size to pop into the jersey pocket for some mid-ride refuelling.

Ingredients (makes 16 bars)

  • 200g (2 cups) rolled oats
  • 60g (⅔ cup)  ground almonds (almond meal)
  • 30g (⅓ cup) dried, unsweetened grated coconut
  • 120g (4¼oz) chocolate chips
  • 4 very ripe, medium-sized bananas, about 250g (9oz) when peeled
  • 160g (1 cup) unsweetened apple puree
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp  fine sea salt
  • 50g (¼ cup) whole almond butter (you can substitute another nut butter or coconut oil)

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas mark 4 (350ºF/320ºF fan). Grease a medium-sized 20cm x 30cm (8-inch x 12-inch) shallow baking dish with vegetable oil and line it with foil strips – makes it easier to get the bars out.

2. Combine the oats, ground almonds, coconut, salt and chocolate chips in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

3. In another medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the bananas, vanilla, nut/coconut butter and apple puree and mash thoroughly using a  potato masher. Add the oat mixture to the wet mix and stir to combine. Leave the mixture to rest for 30 minutes so that the oats soak up the liquid.

4. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish, level the surface (the bars should be around 2cm (0.8 inch) thick) and put it in the oven.

5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is set and light golden-brown. Let it cool completely before removing it from the dish and slicing it into bars. If you’re not serving them all at once, just cut what you need, cover the rest with foil, put into an airtight tin and hide!

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the bars in the oven, put the timer on for 5-10 minutes less than they should take to cook and then check regularly.

3. The bars should still be quite soft to the touch when you take them out of the oven as they’ll continue to cook and firm up as they cool. Overcook them at your peril.

4. I’ve used dark chocolate chips here for a more sophisticated taste but many of my younger weekend guests prefer the tooth-cloying sweetness of milk or white chocolate. Specifically they like the version which uses peanut butter instead of almond, 400g (14 oz) of mashed bananas, no apple puree and white chocolate chips!

5. Feel free to reduce the amount of chocolate – or indeed remove it all together – and substitute other dried fruit such as apricots, cranberries or raisins. Once again, the rule of thumb is to pair ingredients which you like and know work well together.