These bars are a celebration of some of Britain’s best autumn produce. The three star ingredients are all in season during autumn and the early winter months in the UK. I try and use fresh, local produce, mainly because the flavour you get from the ingredients is a billion times better, more intense and pungent, so a delight for the tastebuds. Secondly, because I think it’s important to try and lower my carbon footprint where possible and if I can do that as a side effect of trying to get the max yumminess from my ingredients by all means I will!!!
These bars are very similar in taste and texture to the traditional Italian christmas sweet, panforte. A cake made from native fruits and nuts sometimes spiked with liqueurs or warming winter spices like cinnamon and clove. I have left out spices and spirits from this recipe because I think the pears, prunes and walnuts balance each other impeccably without the need of reinforcement from extra flavours but, I welcome you to play with the recipe and put your own take on it. You could add mixed spice and masala to the mix and then cube up the cake when done, making perfect little christmas treats for friends and family!
The sticky prunes have a intense toffee flavour, the walnuts are a welcome crunch amongst the body of the sponge. Whilst the pears finish off the bars as their candied floral syrupiness atones the famous flouriness of the walnuts.
I try to come up with recipes that are really versatile. Recipes where ingredients can be easily substituted to suit what you have in the pantry or whats in season where you live. As well as, being a creation that will appeal to everyone in your home. These bars are a perfect example of this, they can be packaged into kids and adult lunch boxes, eaten as pre/post work out snacks or given away as gifts. You will notice from the photos that I have cut my slab quite large and that’s because I like to have this as an on the go breakfast for those busy mornings when I need to rush out the door.
So, enjoy natures gifts and get baking!
- 400g pears (pureed, TIP below will explain how to make this)
- 100g walnuts (roughly chopped)
- 250g prunes (chopped)
- 85g oats
- 85g buckwheat flour
- tsp (gluten free) baking powder
- 10g ground lin/flaxseed
- 50ml water
1. Preheat the oven to 175 or 160 degrees for fan assisted ovens. Grease and line either a 7 inch square cake tin or 8 inch round cake tin.
2. In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together until thoroughly combined. Spoon into the prepped tin, level the surface and then bake for 35-40minutes until slightly darker in colour and firm but slightly springy to the touch.
3. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before moving it to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice as desired and enjoy. These bars will keep for around 5 days stored in an air tight container in the fridge.
TIP: Making fruit purees from scratch is really easy. Simply peel, core and dice ripe pears. Put them into a lidded saucepan with about 75ml of water. Allow the mixture to cook for about 20 minutes, stir it occasionally to make sure the pears are not sticking, you may need to add a tablespoon or so more of water if the mixture looks too dry. After 20 minutes the fruit should be soft, at this stage you can either blitz the mix or I just use a potato masher to mush the fruit to a puree. That’s it, done!
Leave the puree to cool completely before storing it in a clean jar in the fridge where it will last for up to 5 days. I like fruit purees with yogurt and oats in the morning for an energising breakfast.