Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Punishment biscuits

Every morning for breakfast I have a bowl of what we call in our house "punishment museli". I'm assuming I don't have to explain what this is, but perhaps for my overseas readers, "punishment museli" is a collection of dusty rolled oats, nuts, seeds and clumps of raisins. No added sugar. Semi-skimmed milk. Washed down with tea - also no added sugar.

I used to eat Shreddies for breakfast, or toast with marmalade, or Crunchy Nut Cornflakes. I even at school once, when I was in too much of a serious hurry even for cereal, had an eclair. But then my dentist said: "Okay you're getting to the age when your teeth are going to start falling out. Stop eating so much sugar." And instead of ignoring him and going straight out to buy a Mars bar to eat on the way home, like a latter-day Adrian Mole, I took it all in.

"Shit," I thought. "I don't want my teeth to fall out." And so I stopped having sugar in my tea (worse than giving up smoking) and started on the punishment museli. Bastard dentist. This is not my current handsome bastard dentist, but a previous bastard dentist. Less handsome but still able to freak me right out, like a bastard.

But the punishment museli thing has kind of grown on me. And I've started noticing that if you are looking for something to snack on, it's almost impossible to buy anything that isn't rammed with sugar. I'm on the move quite a lot at the moment - not for any interesting reason - and often find myself adrift in London town and starving, but unable to locate anything to eat that isn't a packet of salt and vinegar crisps, a McDonald's cheeseburger or a Curly Whirly.

So I thought I'd give some oat bar snack things, that I saw in Nigella Express, a whirl. I'm in two minds about these things. They're not especially indulgent but they do, actually, do a pretty excellent job of providing a portable, minimum-sugar, punishment snack.

If you're not really into punishment foods, there is also a way of making these more edible and less like something you'd find in an emergency supply tin in a bothy half-way up Ben Nevis.

Punishment biscuits (called something like Rise-And-Shine Bars in Nigella Express)

250g rolled oats
75g dessicated coconut
8 dried apricots, chopped
1 large handful raisins
1 large handful hazelnuts, chopped
1 small tin condensed milk

1 Turn on the oven to 130C
2 Warm the can of condensed milk in a pan
3 Combine all the other ingedients in a bowl and then add to the milk and stir
4 Turn out into a greased, loose-bottomed square tin (or round, it's only aesthetics. For my US readers, this is a springform tin)
5 Bake for 1 hour
6 Eat, grimly.

If you want to change these from punishment to merely a light rap across the knuckles, add to the milk 2 tablespoons of golden syrup and a knob of butter and melt together before adding the oat mixture.


  1. Punishment museli, hilarious! Why should it be deemed acceptable to begin the day having been reprimanded by our cereal bowls? Porridge definitely falls into this category too, is it just me but unless you drown your oats in some of Lyles finest it just isn't worth putting in your mouth? Also, please never attempt to use your museli to make porridge. Punishment porridge is not a good thing.
    I adore your blog! May I suggest you perhaps attempt Nigella's New York cheesecake from Domestic Goddess? It is the worlds most stubborn recipe, something that takes so much time and effort practically endorses kitchen suicide when it just never, ever, turns out edible.

  2. I've made those breakfast bars and thought they were really nice - like a pretend healthy version of those frosties cereal bars. Although maybe mine were nicer because I added some white chocolate bits....

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. That is very much my breakfast routine. No sugar in coffee/tea, nothing sweet for breakfast, just something insipid with cold milk. This all falls apart when you find a jar of Nutella and some fresh white bread, of course...

  5. I have Cheat's Shredded Wheat: two Shredded Wheat biscuits with some of my boyfriend's Coca Pops (or variations thereof) on top, with semi-skimmed milk.

  6. OK, I need to make these, but what is a loose-bottomed pan? Is that another one of those cool British things that we don't use regularly in the US? Is it a springform pan????

  7. Yes this is a springform pan - thank you for pointing out this US/UK mis-translation. Vive la difference. xxx

  8. i made these from nigella and thought they were utterly delicious - BUT... not exactly low sugar: condensed milk! i don't think nigella does low sugar...

  9. I tried for years (no joke) to find a good recipe for those bar things. Finally found one - they are Cranberry and Ginger Granola Bars: crunchy, and a bit chewy, and not too holy, and not full of sugar and crap masquerading as sawdust. (Warning: link goes to my quite-crap blog because the original is paid-for content that I have stolen. I am a granola bar highwayman.)

  10. AnythingButVanilla28 June 2010 at 15:24

    Aren't they just joyless muesli/flapjack bars by another name?