The air wafting out of a Crabtree & Evelyn store transports me to my grandmother’s bathroom, all monogrammed hand towels and tall shell-filled glass jars. The smell of fresh baked bread, the house I grew up in on a lazy Sunday afternoon. And the scent of Drakkar Noir lingering in a hallway, straight back to 7th grade and boys who wore Metallica t-shirts… ahem.
The connection of smell and memory is well documented but taste can have exactly the same effect on me, spinning my mind into another time or place with a single bite.
I came across this recipe when combing through my assigned blog, Our Table for Seven, for this month’s Secret Recipe Club post. Erin’s site is simply packed with quick, family-friendly meals she cooks for her husband and five children, and the recipe index kept me hungry for hours!
Not surprisingly the first thing that caught my eye was breakfast, Baked Cinnamon Swirl French Toast to be exact, but I posted a french toast recipe only a week ago and figured that while I could eat variations on the theme pretty much every day of the week, others may want a bit more variety…
Always a fan of making over-processed-packaged-blerg into unprocessed-healthy-food, Erin’s Homemade Fruit & Cereal Nutri-Grain bars seemed just the ticket.
I of course altered the recipe further again, replacing the whole wheat flour with spelt and the sugar with rice syrup amongst other things, so you can imagine my surprise when one bite sent me straight into the mid-90’s and the middle of field-hockey practice. It was uncanny, the flavour and texture I remembered, but full of goodness instead of a refined-oil-chemical-aftertaste. I couldn’t have asked for more.
Oh and just because I can, a parting public service announcement… if you are a man over the age of 14, please refrain from wearing Drakkar Noir, the 90’s wants it’s cologne back. These bars however are here to stay.
Fruit & Oat Bars
Adapted from Our Table for Seven
Makes 14-16 bars
- 1 c rolled oats
- 1 1/4 c whole spelt flour [or GF flour]
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/3 c rice syrup
- 1/4 c cold-pressed oil, I used macadamia but coconut would work too
- 1/4 c apple juice
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla
- approx 3/4 c berry compote, from 2 c frozen mixed berries
- 2 Tbsp oats, extra
Simmer berries with a scant Tbsp water for 25-30 mins, stirring occasionally until thickened. Set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 180C [350F]. Grease a 9×13 inch [23×33 cm] pan, line base and two long sides with a strip of baking [parchment] paper.
In a medium bowl, stir together all dry ingredients. Form a well in the centre and add all wet ingredients. Whisk with a fork until well mixed.
Pour just over half the batter [1 1/4 c if you want to be precise] into the prepared pan, smooth into a thin layer using an offset spatula. Dollop over cooled berry compote, smooth gently to create a thin layer. Dollop over remaining batter, smooth very carefully so batter covers filling as much as possible. Sprinkle with extra oats.
Bake 20-25 mins until firm and golden brown around edges. Cool in pan for 10 mins, run a knife around unlined sides and turn out to cool completely on a rack.
When cool, slice off edges and cut width-wise into 1 1/2 or 2 inch strips – you’ll get 7 or 8. Cut length-wise once down the centre to create bars.
- Filling: cut any large berries like strawberries into small pieces before cooking. I used a mix of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries but these can be substituted with pretty much any other fruit such as plums, peaches or even apples.
- Pan: you could make these in a 8×8 inch square pan if you want thicker bars, you’ll probably need to increase the baking time to approx 30 or 35 mins.
diary free // refined-sugar free // gluten free if using GF flour