Wow. I’m over half way through the school year, and I haven’t lost a Muesli Bar Challenge yet. Even I’m surprised. I expected at some stage to push the low-fat, low-sugar bar just a bit too low! Maybe this is the time – it has no sugar in the cake, just a little in the glaze, and is sweetened with the mandarin juice and some honey. And it has no butter.
But kids have good taste. They are justifiably wary of bitter flavours – bitterness is often a sign of alkaloids and the human animal has evolved taste buds to alert them to it. But the confectionery marketed as “muesli bars” tastes only of its main ingredient – high fructose corn syrup – a cheap substitute for sugar that extends shelf life – a huge health risk and boring.
The Muesli Bar Challenge is a weekly series of baking recipes that are healthy, easy, and cheap enough to be everyday rather than special occasion foods. They have to be based on local, in-season ingredients, and they have to be robust enough to survive the rough and tumble of a one-way trip in a school lunch box, and never need to survive a two-way trip.
This one is super easy – 5 minutes to make and 40 minutes to bake.
Grease a shallow 20cm square cake pan, (or round pan of about the same size). Turn your oven on to heat up to medium.
Into the food processor, put
- 300 grams of low fat ricotta
- 4 good dessertspoons of honey
- 3 eggs
- 100 ml of mandarin juice and 4 teaspoons of grated zest (two medium mandarins).
Blend this mix till smooth, then pour it in on top of 2 cups (300 grams) of wholemeal self raising flour. Mix just to combine – like a muffin batter, the idea is to avoid developing the gluten in the flour.
Pour the batter into your cake pan and bake near the top of a medium oven for around 40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, juice another two mandarins and dissolve two dessertspoons of raw sugar in the juice. Simmer in a small saucepan for a few minutes until it goes syrupy. (I think next time I might make this 3 mandarins and 3 dessertspoons of sugar).
Poke holes with a skewer all over the top of the hot cake, and spoon the hot syrup over it. Allow to cool then turn out of the pan.