Thursday, 19 November 2009

Make Your Own Cereal Bars

Have you seen the price of cereal bars? I know they're not the most exciting foodie must have. But lots of us buy them, they're great for childrens' lunch boxes, and make good breakfast on the run for adults, and like lots of processed food, they're a complete ripoff. For a start, look at the size of them. Tiny. You'd need a whole box of them to make a decent breakfast for a Doyle. And that would be assuming that they contain wholesome tasty ingredients, which they don't.

I suspect people like cereal bars because many of us don't have the time or inclination for breakfast, (the retail market for cereal bars is worth £314million a year) and grabbing a cereal bar on the way out of the door in the morning seems like an improvement on a double chocolate muffin at the coffee shop later. Which indeed it can be, if you make them yourself.

If you have one of these

from the supermarket, you might just as well have the muffin, for all the good it's going to do you.
So I'm suggesting you make your own. It's easy and you can make them as opulent or as  austere as you wish. I tend to make them fairly spartan because they're for breakfast and I like to see them as a healthy start. No matter that it all goes downhill from there, a good start at least shows willing.

This amount makes enough to fill my large Aga baking tray, which is 14" x 10". It's worth making a good quantity once you've established just how you like them, as they keep reasonably well in an airtight tin.

Cereal Bars Recipe

12oz/300g golden syrup
4oz/half a packet butter
half a cup/4 fl oz sunflower oil

Put these to melt over a low heat,while you assemble the dry ingredients, in a large bowl, which can be almost any combination of the following. Quantities are a rough guide, because you can adjust to whatever you like best, frankly I use up what I have half packets of, and what I fancy adding - just try to end up with around 4 pounds of mix in total for the above amount of liquid.

1 lb8oz/ 750g rolled (porridge)oats
8oz/200gr wholewheat flour
8oz/200g dessicated coconut
12oz/300 gr bag of trail mix chopped up or other dried fruit
several handfuls of puffed rice cereal
several handfuls of mixed seedsof your choice such as sunflower, pumpkin, flax,sesame
several handfuls of mixed nuts of your choice brazil, almond, hazel, walnuts chopped
several handfuls of raisins
3 eating apples, grated coarsely, don't bother to peel

Mix your dry ingredients together thoroughly, pour on the contents of the saucepan and stir until well blended. Turn into your tin and press down fairly gently. Bake for about half an hour on the bottom rung of the Aga roasting oven, probably Gas 4 Electric 180  until just tinged golden. Don't overbrown. Burnt raisins are horrible.

Cut into bars and cool on a wire tray. These bars should be reasonably chewy and soft, if you like them harder and more crisp, reduce the amount of apple.

I don't want to harp on about the economy of making your own, lest you should run away with the idea that they're not going to be very delicious, which they are, but I've costed it out roughly and my cereal bars are at least a quarter of the price of the average shop ones. Plus they're jam packed with nuts seeds and fruits, and low in sugar, contain no preservatives or dodgy fillers, and don't leave 30 plastic wrappers and 6 cardboard boxes behind. The recipe above will give you around 25 -30 good size bars (around 4 oz/100gr each) as opposed to the measly 1oz/30gr ones from the shop. Quarter of the price, ten times the quality,you can't lose.

So it's this...                            ...... or this? (It's a no brainer!)                 


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