Granola bars for marathon day

Edward (the Hapless Wonder, the HW) competed in his first – and he has promised, last – marathon on Sunday. He finished in a very respectable 4:36:58. Yay Edward!

It was a big day for him, but it was also a big day for London. Marathon Day is one of the most exciting days of the year here. Thousands and thousands of people come out to cheer on the runners, to look for the craziest costume and to see how many times they can spot Gordon Ramsay along the course. (Gordon Ramsay seems to have become the benchmark for judging a marathon time: 'Well, you were about 30 minutes behind Gordon at 17 miles, but by 24 miles you had made up 10 minutes on him!')

For a full day of marathon watching – which usually involves hopping from viewing point to viewing point along public transport – you need sustenance. Especially me. I get cranky when I don’t eat. So I decided to bake some granola bars to keep us fuelled.

The recipe came from a cookbook by Irish food personality Rachel Allen. I love Rachel’s television programs because she cooks really accessible, easy family food that you can see yourself whipping up in your own kitchen. My kind of cooking.

What’s terrific about these bars is that they are so easy to make. Dump your
dry ingredients in a large bowl, melt your butter and sugar on the stove, and mix everything together. And once they’re baked, you can actually feel somewhat good about eating them. Oats, seeds, fruit… this is as close to genuine health food as my baking gets. I halved the sweeteners to make the recipe even healthier, and I didn’t think it needed more. The one criticism I have is that the bars were quite crumbly; do you think that’s because I halved the amount of golden syrup and the recipe needed more liquid? Any advice appreciated.

Crumble or no crumble, because I was getting some good (seeds and oats) along with the bad (butter), I felt almost as virtuous eating these as if I were running the marathon myself.

Apricot and Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Adapted from Rachel’s Favourite Food at Home by Rachel Allen

This is a granola bar for peanut butter lovers. The flavour really shines through.

3 cups (300 g) rolled oats
2/3 cup (100 g) mixed seeds (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, etc.)
1/2 cup (50 g) dessicated coconut
1/3 cup (50 g) plain or all purpose flour
14 Tbsp (200 g) butter
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp (100 g) golden syrup or honey
1/3 cup (75 g) brown sugar
3/4 cup (150 g) dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup (125 g) crunchy peanut butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 160C / 325F. Grease and line a 9×9 or 7×11 pan with baking or parchment paper, leaving a bit hanging over the edge for easy removal later.

Mix the oats, seeds, coconut, flour, salt and apricots in a large bowl and mix well.
In a medium pot, melt the butter, brown sugar, syrup and peanut butter over low heat. Once it’s melted add the vanilla. Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients and mix everything together very well. Press firmly into the pan.

Bake 20-25 minutes in the centre of the oven, until golden and slightly firm. Store in an airtight container. These keep for up to a week and they also freeze well.