"Mummy, I don't like any vegetables. Especially not carrots."
"What, even in a cake?"
"No, even in a cake."
"I bet you'd like carrots in a cake."
Actual conversation had with my three-year-old earlier this week.
A challenge if ever I heard one. So I came up with this recipe for these delicious carrot cake oat bars. They make a perfect snack for picky eaters, both large and small. With a bit of adjustment to the recipe they'd work well for baby-led weaning. They are very low in sugar as well and are dairy and egg free and therefore vegan. If nuts are a concern, or if you want to make them to include in a packed lunch at a nut-free school or nursery, substitute more oats, or raisins. And of course devoured by the aforementioned three-year-old.
Ingredients (makes 16 squares or 8 bars)
120g rolled oats
40g nuts (hazelnuts or walnuts work well)
60g chopped dates or raisins
220g grated carrot
2 tbsp maple syrup or honey (no honey for under-ones)
1 tsp vanilla extract
60ml sunflower oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice
cold water (if needed)
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C. Grease and base line a 20cm square cake tin.
Place all the ingredients apart from the water into a large bowl, or food processor, and mix well. Blend together using a food processor or hand held stick blender. Add a little water if you need to but take care that it doesn't end up too runny. I found when making these with a stick blender I needed water but in a food processor I didn't.
Spoon into your prepared cake tin and smooth over the surface. Bake for 25-30 minutes until firm and slightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and immediately cut into squares or bars using a sharp knife. Then leave to cool in the tin.