What is it?: Marmaladey-oaty goodness
Occasion: Cyclist fuel
This weekend I decided to hibernate. Partly because the weather in London was so dreadful, and partly because I am trying to avoid situations in which I might be tempted to smoke. Yes, for the 57th time, I have bid farewell to my favourite pastime (after eating and drinking, of course) and thrown my cigarettes in the bin. Giving up smoking, for me, is fraught with all kinds of problems – I start ‘smoking’ random objects like pens and eyeliner pencils, I become extremely grouchy and I start eating everything in sight to alleviate my cravings. Not good for my waistline. So my challenge at the moment is to avoid places I associate with smoking (pub gardens and outdoor cafes being the main culprits) and also to ensure that I don’t overeat – not easy when you write a baking blog and run a baking club. With this in mind, I decided that exercise was the way forward and have started looking up a few south-east London cycle routes to try out in the next few weeks.
Both Ollie and my neighbour Rob are keen cyclists, i.e. unlike me they have ‘proper’ bikes, cycle more than once a month and are never found red-faced and out of breath at the top of a hill they’ve just cycled up, wailing “let me go home on the bus!” Our conversations around fuel for a long journey have always surprised me – Rob swears by banana bread (more specifically, my banana, rum and coconut bread), and Ollie prefers flapjacks. Luckily for him, Short & Sweet has a flapjack recipe for me to try. If they do provide the slow-release energy for cyclists, perhaps they will also stop me from spending the morning snacking, non? Or at least that can be my excuse for eating them until I actually wrestle my bike from the shed. I love flapjacks, but they are a tricky bugger. Too long in the oven and you end up with a house-brick of syrup and oats and potentially some broken teeth, not long enough and you find yourself eating oat powder. Grim. The challenge is to make them soft enough to be delectably chewy, but firm enough so that they keep their shape.
These flapjacks do not stray too far from the classic formula – oats, syrup and treacle – but have a few extra ingredients to make them special. For one, the recipe using dark soft brown sugar and treacle to add some real depth to the flavour that syrup just cannot achieve and, in addition to this, some orange zest and marmalade is added. I am a massive fan of marmalade – in baking and for breakfast – so went with a really strong-tasting one to really add some punch, my Dad’s favourite, Frank Cooper’s vintage marmalade, and I’m glad I did as the marmalade flavour was really potent. Some soaked raisins also added a nice textural element. These are a really good flapjack – on eating one I forgot all about how effective they would be for cyclist fuel, because I couldn’t help but think how delicious they were for breakfast. Apparently you can also modify these by adding different kinds of zest/marmalade combinations such as lemon or lime, but I wouldn’t bother. Orange is king.
In other news:
To have a short break from my self-imposed seclusion, I went along to the Design Museum to get one last look at it before it moves from its current building in Shad Thames over to its new home in Chelsea. Most of the permanent exhibition has now gone, which was disappointing as I especially love looking at all of the iconic kitchen gadgetery, but I did get to see two rather good exhibitions. One of them was the Designers in Residence, where I got to see some artwork produced by local Peckham-based artists Oscar Medley-Whitfield and Harry Trimble, who produce a range of ceramics made from mud gathered from the banks of the Thames.
Design Museum, Shad Thames, London SE1 9YD