Wake and Bake - the smart way to save a few pounds

by Liam Glen   July 2, 2011  

Home made energy bars

The credit crunch has forced everyone to cut back on their expenditures, something that doesn't tally too well with being a cyclist. As a student, I am in this position full time, economic depression or not, and so I feel quite well qualified to show you how a little home baking can both improve your bank balance and your time on the bike.

Comercial energy bars are expensive (and in some cases, just plain disgusting), there's no getting around that fact. With a little time and effort on your part, it is possible to make your own great tasting bars, which deliver nutrionally, at a fraction of the price.

With a 360km ride coming up the following day, I headed over to fellow contributos Trevor Allen's house for some good old fashioned home baking. A quick trip down to the local health food shop later, and we had everything we needed to get started.

First off - the ingredients. The recipe is basically a standard flapjack recipe with a few additions to keep things interesting. 

For this batch we used:

  • pumpkin seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • sour cherries
  • dried cranberries
  • dried figs
  • dried pear
  • oatbran

For those not so obsessed with the fat content off the bars, the marg could be replaced by butter. We were too manly to weigh any of our ingredients but in general you'd want to use the following ratios:

  • marg - 1
  • golden syrup - 1
  • oats - 2
  • goodies - between 1 and 2 depending on how stingy your feeling

Cooking Instructions:

On a low heat, combine the marg and golden syrup in a pan until liquid. (The health conscious might be advised to look away now.) Hopefully you have some nicer hobs than these crappy student house ones.

An alternative to all that marg/butter is to use jam. This reduces the amount of saturated fats in the bars whilst also adding another interesting flavour possibility. You could go for a standard stawberry/rasberry jam but how about trying something a bit "out there"? 

Whilst that is going on, chop up the fruits and seeds into the size you so desire and add to a mixing bowl. Using a food processor is fast and useful for making your bars homogeneous, but sometimes, it can be quite nice  to bite down on a big chunk of fruit mid ride.

Add in the oats

And then pour in liquid and mix thoroughly. Idealy, each oat flake should be nicely coating in the mix, there shouldn't be any dry ones around. This is important else you'll end up with dry and crumbly bars. If the mix is too dry, go back and melt some more marg and golden syrup.

Pack the mix into a backing tray lined with greaseproof paper making sure to really compress the mixture. The ideal height of the mixture should be around 2cm as this enables the centre of the bars to stay soft whilst the outside firms up. 

Wack it in an oven pre-heated to 160C for 30 mins (or until golden brown on top). At the halfway stage, take the tray out and cut the individual bars out. This needs to be done with care and a sharp knife since the mixture is still very delicate at this stage.

 Taadaaa! The difficulty now is in saving this for riding. Nomnom!

 Packing Tip: For easy on bike stowage, wrap the bars in little foil packets. Or if you have gone sticky on your mix then grease proof paper is a good shout (edit). I tend to go lean and as such stick to foil.

So what does it all come to? Total spend on ingredients was about £6 which made 15 bars. Price per bar: 40p. We also worked out that each of our bars had roughly double the calories of most comercially available ones (and more protein too!) so you should only need to eat one half as often. That's easier said than done though!

27 user comments

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mmm..margarine, your better off with butter, slightly more fat content but tastes nice and no hydrogenated fats/oils.

better still try this recipe..

http://road.cc/content/forum/11860-diy-energy-bars

oh and from my own tests greaseproof paper is better than tin foil, which for some reason can get stuck and you end up eating small bits of it if you aint paying attention
Big Grin

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posted by Fringe [1081 posts]
2nd July 2011 - 21:08

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agree about the butter - a slightly more expensive way to do it is add some ground almond along with the oats - you can also use honey instead of golden syrup and you tend to need much less of it due to its stronger flavour

posted by Alan Tullett [1434 posts]
2nd July 2011 - 22:57

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A quick bit of nutritional maths would indicate that the bars were about 300-350kcal each; as Liam points out double most bars you can buy.

At 40p a bar it is literally unbelievable that people buy bars at approx £1.50; especially given that you can make your own in the time it takes to ride to a bike shop and back and the limitless possibility of flavour/consistency/nutritional options.

The 9Bar and the new SiS bars are particularly impressive bought bars- one to try and emulate I think. Also anyone tried to make their own gels yet? I think that should be our next challenge Liam...

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posted by Trev Allen [163 posts]
2nd July 2011 - 23:20

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Thanks Liam! I am going to give that recipe a crack! Big Grin

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posted by Argy [147 posts]
3rd July 2011 - 7:38

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Fringe - interesting recipe. I shall try it next time I have a food processor at hand. As for the foil, I've never had any problems with bits sticking. If you cook it enough, the outside shouldn't be sticky at all.

posted by Liam Glen [147 posts]
3rd July 2011 - 8:56

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How long do you reckon these last before they go off?

posted by Cross Rob [16 posts]
3rd July 2011 - 9:42

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They should last up to about 2 weeks I reckon. They're readily freezable though if you've made a huge batch

posted by Liam Glen [147 posts]
3rd July 2011 - 12:59

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They wouldn't last two weeks in my house! They look great - so does Fringe's recipe. I think I'll give them a go. If they can carry you 350km I'm sure they'll be good fuel for me too. I'm wondering why I've never tried them like this before.

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posted by simonmb [360 posts]
3rd July 2011 - 15:06

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I've been mixing Basics museli with golden syrup, dried coconut,apple sauce and a smidge of baking powder. Add yogurt to taste. Extra fruit like dates are good but the more solids you put in the more you have to masticate on sudden climbs!

Trust me. Butter or marg are not necessary at all. It's the syrup that holds it together.

Storage? Cut down the inside bags from cereal packets - or the variety pack bags. You can freeze what you don't need immediately.

Any large bottles of SIS recovery powder collecting dust? Bung some of it in. It's a damn sight more palatable than drinking the stuff!

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [1055 posts]
3rd July 2011 - 22:20

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Good article. But "homologous" doesn't mean what I think you think it means. Homologous is a fancy way of stating equivalence in certain specific scientific contexts. Homogeneous would be a better choice to indicate uniform consistency of pieces.

posted by handlebarcam [527 posts]
4th July 2011 - 9:38

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handlebarcam wrote:
Good article. But "homologous" doesn't mean what I think you think it means. Homologous is a fancy way of stating equivalence in certain specific scientific contexts. Homogeneous would be a better choice to indicate uniform consistency of pieces.

You are, of course, quite correct. But does being anal make the bars taste any better?

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posted by simonmb [360 posts]
4th July 2011 - 9:57

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handlebarcam wrote:
Good article. But "homologous" doesn't mean what I think you think it means. Homologous is a fancy way of stating equivalence in certain specific scientific contexts. Homogeneous would be a better choice to indicate uniform consistency of pieces.

Lucky you pointed that out, i was having real trouble understanding the recipe before your clarification Nerd

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posted by cactuscat [302 posts]
4th July 2011 - 10:09

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I'm going to give this a go. My favourite bar is the torq which is quite moist and a bit cakey, maybe it just needs some extra fruit or some egg and flour.. I shall experiment.

On the subject of DIY gels, i suggest mixing some jam and hydration salts with some ground up pro plus for the caffeine. it could be packaged in sandwich bags sealed with tape. just nibble a hole in the bag and suck it out.

yuk

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posted by joemmo [790 posts]
4th July 2011 - 10:47

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simonmb wrote:
You are, of course, quite correct. But does being anal make the bars taste any better?

I suspect anal energy bars wouldn't taste very nice at all.

cactuscat wrote:
Lucky you pointed that out, i was having real trouble understanding the recipe before your clarification

My comment wasn't intended for you. The author is a student. If nobody tells him how will he learn? At least I am not charging 9000 pounds in tuition fees for the privilege.

posted by handlebarcam [527 posts]
4th July 2011 - 12:00

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Been doing a similar recipe to this for few years but use olive spread instead of the marg. For real nutaholics you can stick some peanut butter in and for chocoholics some chocolate powder in the marg/sugar mix before adding the oat/nut mix is great.
The real question is do you take a few extras on a ride to share with your fellow cyclists ?

posted by Chris L [17 posts]
4th July 2011 - 13:12

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My mum likes doing this although she always worries that the bars will crumble up in her pocket so for longer rides she tends not to take her home-made cereal energy bars. She also complains about the prices of seeds too but I don't blame her - they are quite expensive. Good on you though Smile

posted by griffinsnight [7 posts]
4th July 2011 - 19:03

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Woops, thanks for pointing that out. An embarrassing mistake for a MechEng student...

posted by Liam Glen [147 posts]
4th July 2011 - 19:40

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Your hob isn't covered in an inch of mouldy grease...

Call yourself a student??!!

Wink

posted by don_don [149 posts]
5th July 2011 - 11:07

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Having just read an article about dark choclate promoting muscle growth, why not add 5g to each square, for your 5g a day choccie allowance (see here if this makes no sense at all - http://road.cc/content/news/40166-research-suggests-dark-chocolate-can-b...)

posted by Myriadgreen [89 posts]
5th August 2011 - 17:44

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Tried it but I think I need more syrup as it's very crumbly. It also looks like bird seed Smile But it tastes absolutely lovely. I used sesame, pumpkin and some other seeds (not quite sure) with some dried apricot chopped up small.

I've run out of oats, but someone gave me some Oatso Simple with raspberry that they didn't like, so I may try using that up in the next batch. I don't think this one will last long as I pick a lump of it every time I go by!

posted by RuthF28 [89 posts]
6th August 2011 - 16:05

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I _knew_ you were an engineer Smile the foil under the hobs gave it away.

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posted by neildmoss [188 posts]
12th August 2011 - 14:13

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I've been making these with sultanas, sunflower seeds, almonds, crystallised ginger stem(!) and dried apricots. The ginger gives it a great flavour Big Grin Unfortunately the rain up north has put me off riding this week Sad

Stewie

posted by stewieatb [298 posts]
12th August 2011 - 18:16

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HOLD IT!

I've just discovered a new recipe courtesy of a club matte which is so simple a cat could make it. Nigella's breakfast bar!

-250 gms oats

-150 gms assorted goodies - I use dried cranberries (70p a pack in HomeBargain), nuts, sunflower seeds and dried coconut in equal measure

-1 tin of condensed milk. Not evap - but the sweet very, very sticky stuff.

Mix it all together and flatten into a standard 35mm long baking tray with some grease proof paper.

Stick it in the oven for 1hour at 130C so that it slow bakes.

You end up with 10 solid bar that stay solid but are easy to eat and taste oh so lovely and creamy.

Trust me. These are better than anything on the market and it works out at about 50p a bar.

They're so good I have to hide them as the kids and wife are always nicking them for their lunch boxes. Something they never did with my previous experiments.

I now wince when I see people biting into those dreadful SIS bars. Cheap rice and syrup with some BS on the packet...

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [1055 posts]
13th October 2011 - 10:09

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MercuryOne wrote:
HOLD IT!

I've just discovered a new recipe courtesy of a club matte which is so simple a cat could make it. Nigella's breakfast bar!

I made some of these last night ahead of Bristol Oktoberfest and can confirm they're pretty much the tastiest thing ever. pumpkin and sunflower seeds and sour cherries in mine. Win!

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7310 posts]
14th October 2011 - 9:53

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I made a few batches using the Nigella recipe last year and can confirm that they are quite edible! Not sure if it's in her official recipe but I also added some coconut milk in addition to the condensed milk

posted by Liam Glen [147 posts]
14th October 2011 - 10:36

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Mmm… condensed milk

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4135 posts]
14th October 2011 - 10:41

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slightly more ingredients than Nigella's is Dan Lepards flapjacks, again with condensed milk, and tahini..very easy to eat...

100g unsalted butter

75g brown sugar

200g sweetened condensed milk

75g tahini

50g honey

100g chopped dried dates or figs

100g chopped walnuts

25g sesame seeds

175g-225g rolled oats

Heat the butter, brown sugar and condensed milk in a saucepan until hot and the sugar dissolved, then remove from the heat and stir in first the tahini and honey, and then the dried fruit, nuts and sesame seeds. Now stir in enough rolled oats until the mixture just holds its shape – the more oats you add to the mix, the firmer the finished flapjack will be.
Line a 20cm or 25cm square cake tin (or similar) with buttered foil and pack the flapjack mixture into the base. Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan-assisted)/350F/gas mark 4 and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the flapjack is just beginning to turn golden on top. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
When warm, cut the flapjack into squares and serve, or store in an airtight container.

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posted by Fringe [1081 posts]
14th October 2011 - 11:05

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