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Getting in a flap

19 Jul

rhubarb almond flapjack

What do you do when you have a vegan colleague visiting your office for the day? Subject them to the latest venture in your quest to find that perfect energy bar, of course! It’s been a while since I tried making a cycling jersey pocket friendly snack, but this weekend me, Mr Cakes, bro-in-law (he of Dave Johnson’s Photography), and a couple of other chums will be cycling around 200 miles along the English-Welsh border. We need snacks to sustain us.

rhubarb almond flapjack squares

So, a test. Flapjack; tasty, consistancy holds together but isn’t rock hard, and suitable to feed to your vegan colleague. No pressure. Oh, and what about that rhubarb that you have in the fridge to use up? Okay then.

These fellas aren’t half bad. They’re just the right amount of gooey and chewy, not hard, not crumbly, and they taste good. Quite tangy with the rhubarb and just the right amount of sweetness.

A classy pocket contender indeed.

rhubarb almond flapjack square

Rhubarb and Almond Flapjacks (vegan)
Makes 9 squares

Ingredients
125g porridge oats
100g stewed rhubarb
25g flaked almonds
75g coconut oil
100g soft brown sugar
50g agave syrup

Method
1. Mix together the rhubarb, almonds and oats and leave to stand while you grease a 20cm square cake tin with a little coconut oil. Line with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 180C

2. Melt together the coconut oil, sugar and golden syrup gently in a pan. You want the sugar to just melt, but not boil. Mix together with the oat mixture.

3. Spread the mixture into the cake tin and level with the back of your spoon.

5. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in the tin for 10 minutes before marking into squares using a sharp knife – do this while the flapjacks are still in the tin. Allow to cool completely and set. Then cut and eat!

Hoy Hoy!

18 Feb

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Yesterday Mr Bakes and I had a very different Friday. It started with a run to the lido at 9.30am for an usually quiet swim before running home to a spot of poached eggs on toast. Then we travelled to the Olympic Park to watch the UCI Track Cycling World Cup, and somehow had seats right on the finish line 3 rows from the front. Pretty, pretty good!

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See how close we were? Although track cycling events are usually very good for spectators, as you can get out your seat and walk around, get right up to the track to see what’s going on and no-one really minds or tells you to get back to your seat.

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Here are Pendleton and Varnish about to whoop ass in the team sprint, before winning gold later on in the day. We also were witness to the first ever world record in the velodrome, which Pendleton & Varnish went on to smash too! We did see Chris Hoy and his team sprint chums. And yes, he’s still massive.

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Afterwards we had a look round Westfield, just because it was there. On the plus side, we got a pinkberry.

Now, I wonder what type of muesli bars these cyclists like to eat?

Snow Sports

5 Feb

London Fields Lido

The last 24 hours have been pretty interesting. Snow had been forecast – lots of snow. Lots of snow for London anyway. Still, Mr Cakes and I, and a couple of East-side friends ventured over the river to a housewarming party in Sarf London. It’ll be fine, I said, we’ll totally be able to get home, no problem! This is London, right? Except it also just so happened that all trains to our destination were cancelled due to engineering works. Come 11pm it was time to call a cab (rock n roll I know, but there were swimming lessons for 3 of us the following morning and a doggy to get home to aswell) Yeah fine, we’ll send you a cab. It’ll be about 20 minutes, okay? You know how this goes, 30 minutes later – no cab. Then we look out the window at the 5 inches of snow on the ground and wonder what on earth will happen next. Let’s give it another 15 minutes, and then think about plan B. And that’s when our saviour turned up, in what can only be described as a monster truck. There is no photographic evidence of what happened next, you just have to believe me….

And so we were driven home in a bright red, Mercedes G-class 9 seater truck which our taxi driver (and truck owner) reliably informed us was used by the Nazis as a tank in the war – although not this particular one, obviously. He tuned the radio to Smooth FM, cranked it up, us girls in the back had a good old sing along to Abba and Micheal Jackson while taxi-man told Mr Cakes he reminded him of someone….who is it…? Oh yes, an older Chris Evans! And said he was a sharp guy! As one of our number put it he was a snow super hero – ‘the sweeper’

There is a baking point to this story. I couldn’t go empty-handed to the party, and dutifully baked some housewarming fruity nutty cookies.

I got the recipe for the fruity (and nutty) cookies from the bbcgoodfood website. Believe it or not these chunky, crispy on the outside chewy in the middle morsels contain marmalade! Perfect if you’ve just made a batch just like big sis did earlier this week. The Lady Marmalade post is here if you missed it.

They also contain most of the same ingredients as the energy bars I’ve been trying to perfect over the last few months, which got me thinking – what about energy biscuits instead of energy bars? I think these would be perfect – not too crumbly, not too gooey, full of nuts and fruit and super calorific goodness. When the snow has melted and the air temperature isn’t so flippin cold and we get out on a weekend cycle ride I’m going to road test a couple of these bad boys for their energy credentials. And besides, Kraft are now flogging biscuits as a healthy breakfast option, so they must be okay for triathletes, right?

Don’t believe me? Try ’em. Although next time I’m going to decrease the ginger and increase the cinnamon. Just a personal thing.

After all that we did make it to our swimming class this morning, we ran through the snowy streets to the Lido where snow lined the edges of the pool, and mist rose from the water obscuring the view as you swam. It was almost magical!

Hail Mary!

30 Jan

Apricot Walnut Bars

Okay, so I promised you sports snacks, tri bars (no, not those funny looking handlebars on Mr. Cakes’ bike), back pocket safe muesli type cake snacks on test.  The quest started last year. I tried these cinnamon berry granola bars featured on bbcgoodfood. They were tasty, and packed full of goodies but they were flippin’ hard!  I’m talking rock solid, chip a tooth hard. So Mr. Cakes and I crumbled them up and used them as yogurt topping instead. Strike one.

Then I tried these lovelies  – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s honey and peanut butter booster bars. Now, these bars were featured on the River Cottage Every Day veg series and Hugh served them up to a group of open water swimmers after swimming the OSS Dart 10k. Incase you’re wondering yes, it is a 10 kilometre swim in the river Dart from Totnes to Dittisham. If you fancy it this year it’s being held on the 8th September. Unfortunately me and Mr. Cakes will be in Bala to compete in the Wrecsam tri club olympic triathlon. Shame! Maybe next year…seriously, I’d be up for it. Anyway, back to the bakes. I had high hopes for Hugh’s bars – if they were good enough for those 10k swimmers, then they surely would be perfect. But they weren’t, for some reason they didn’t really set and became one big gooey mess (and more yogurt topping, ultimately!) I’m going to blame it on the oven, it was around the same time that the element blew the electrics to the whole flat and forced us to move our half-cooked 6 hour slow roasted pork shoulder from Shoreditch to Victoria Park. But that’s another story. Strike two.

So, when Mary Berry promised Apricot and Walnuts Sandwich bars, just like “something out of a health shop” in her Baking Bible (and yes that is what she talks like…) I thought I must have struck gold.

Apricot and Walnut Sandwich Bar

They’re kind of a like a shortbready-flapjack with gooey apricot jammy stuff in the middle. Really very tasty, not too sweet, but incredibly crumbly – very much like crumble infact. So much so that Mr Cakes and I ate them with custard on top thank you very much. Not suitable for the rapha jersey pocket, sadly.

And so it looks like I’m out. Who is next?