Granola Bars

The day after Ruby was born, my sister came to stay for a few days. She was such a great help. By the time John and I managed to get up and out of our bedroom, my sister and Mum had filled our house with the sweet aromas of brownies baking and a roast dinner, done all of our laundry and stocked up our fridge with food.

In those first few days of adjusting to life with a baby, days and nights were a blur, but one of the things that was clear and constant was my hunger. Oh my, I had no idea just how hungry I would feel as a result of giving birth, then breastfeeding a baby. I realised quickly that I would need some night time snacks, because by 4am each night, I was feeling famished. So, when Ruby was less than 48 hours old and my sister texted me from our living room while I was in bed, offering to go to the shops, I knew exactly what I wanted. Brunch bars and Tracker bars. Tracker bars remind me of my childhood and long journeys as a family. They are a great source of sustenance. The perfect nighttime snack to fill my grumbling belly.
I have eaten a lot of cereal bars since Ruby was born, and although I no longer need a 4am snack, I need snacks during the day. So, I decided to try and make my own cereal bars. I used Summer Harms' granola bars recipe as a guide and adapted some of the ingredients to suit my taste. Summer has kindly given me permission to share her recipe here.

Granola Bars (makes approx. 24 large bars)
ingredients to toast:
2 cups / 180g oats
1 cup / 120g flax seed
1 cup of mixed seeds / 100g (I used sunflower and pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 cup / 80g dessicated coconut
1 tsp cinnamon

ingredients to add to toasted mixture
1/2 cup / 100g dark or light brown sugar
1/2 cup / 170g honey
2 tsp treacle (molasses)
4 tbsp / 35g unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
3 tbsp peanut butter (I used crunchy)
1/2 cup / 80g of mixed peel
1/2 cup / 80g of cranberries
1/2 cup / 80g of sultanas
zest of a lemon

1) Preheat the oven to 200C / gas mark 5 / 400F.
2) In a bowl, mix together the 'ingredients to toast' list. Then spread out the ingredients on a rimmed baking tray (measuring 13" x 10") Bake for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through the roasting time to prevent the uppermost ingredients getting burnt.
3) Heat the sugar, honey, molasses and butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat until simmering. Stir in the peanut butter and vanilla extract.
4) Remove the toasted ingredients and pour back into the mixing bowl.
5) Add the dried fruit, mixed peel and lemon zest to the toasted ingredients then stir.
6) Add the melted sugar mixture and stir thoroughly until all of the ingredients are combined.
7) Grease & line the rimmed baking tray, then press the mixture into the rimmed baking tray. I found my tray wasn't quite big enough, so put the remaining mixture into a loaf tin, which worked perfectly.
8) Place another sheet of parchment on top of the mixture, then use a rolling pin to flatten the top.
9) Leave the bars to set for 2 - 3 hours before slicing and eating.

Thanks again to Summer for letting me share this recipe. I will most definitely be making these again!