As we were about to set foot into my European holiday two friends had just arrived back from theirs. My friend had a sister who was living in London at the time so they spent most of their time there. Besides exploring the typical tourist attractions that London has to offer they stumbled upon a gastronomical icon known as Pret A Manger. So what is Pret all about? Well it is a gourmet sandwich franchise located all over UK (and also US and Hong Kong). Everything is made fresh at the premises with no preservatives or additives (actually, those two things are shunned upon at Pret) and anything left over at the end of that day is offered to charity rather than 1) thrown out and 2) kept over to sell the next day. I was told that I would LOVE this place. So I talked Ant’s ears off saying that when we arrive in London we HAD to try this place out.
During our flight from Singapore to London, someone on board was sick so we had to make a stop over in Bangkok to get this person treated. As a result, we missed our connecting flight from London to Rome and had to wait around in Heathrow Airport for 5 HOURS! British Airways compensated for this and offered us a £5 voucher each to spend on food at the airport. Great! What could we possibly get for £5?! Now this was the moment when we had our first experience with Pret. There was a delicious range of sandwiches and a lot of healthy treats on offer. What amazed us was the fact that we were able to purchase two sandwiches, a can of juice and a small packet of chips for under £10 and have some change remaining. The food was nice and fresh. I don’t think we’d be able to get the same amount of things here in Sydney for $10.
5 weeks later we set foot once again in London – it felt so good to be back in a country where everyone spoke English. One of the first things when we arrived was watch a football (aka soccer) game; the teams were West Ham vs Sunderland (Go Lucas Neil! ). The funniest thing about this game was that we were watching the game with the sun in our eyes! Not very English at all! In fact, we were blessed with 5 whole days of sunshine in LONDON. Weird hey? The stadium was bloody packed but surprisingly it only took about 5 minutes to have everyone cleared out. SFS/Stadium Australia take note; have multiple exits to make things easier for everyone.
During our stay we did the typical touristy things, e.g. watched the Changing of the Guards, London Eye, visited Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, went on a Jack the Ripper tour, etc. Another highlight of the trip that not many people could say they did was that I got to fire a trebuchet. We were at the Tower of London when a live demonstration was held showing the weapons that would have been used back in the day. There was a little battle between the sexes to see which gender would be better at hitting the target. I volunteered to have a go at it, as well as 3 other ladies. We were required to pull on a rope which hurled a water balloon towards one of the demonstrators. Long story short, the girls won! Who ever said you need strength to win a battle?
Now back to my story of Pret… Our days would start off with Pret for breakfast followed by Pret for lunch; and if they opened for dinner I’m sure we would have had that as well! Everything was so marvelous here. I think one of the most memorable sandwiches that I had was herbed chicken with rocket; yes it sounds simple, but it was so flavoursome! I really wish that a Pret franchise would open here in Sydney. On one occasion I decided to try out one of their slices, the one that caught my attention was called Love Bar. What a cute name for something so delicious! So what’s a love bar I hear you say.. Just imagine a soft biscuit layer made out of rolled oats and honey, topped with a delectable layer of caramel, pumpkin seeds, almond, pistachio and chocolate chips. Makes your mouth water doesn’t it?
So you could imagine my excitement when I found the recipe for this magnificent creation. This recipe is pretty straight forward and even easier if you use a can of caramel instead of making it from scratch.
Adapted from Pret on the Move by Jane Lunzer Gifford
Makes about 30 squares
1/2 cup (150g) golden syrup
1 tbsp clear honey
200g unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups (350g) rolled oats
1/3 cup (60g) soft brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup (60g) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) double cream
60g unsalted butter
40g pumpkin seeds
50g dark chocolate chips
50g shelled pistachio nuts
50g roasted almonds, chopped
For the flapjacks:
- Preheat the oven to 150C (300F).
- Grease a 23cm (9 inch square) baking tray and line with baking paper.
- Warm the syrup, honey and butter in a medium saucepan over a low heat until butter melts.
- Add the oats, soft brown sugar and flour and mix well.
- Put mixture into the baking tin and press firmly into tin.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the surface is lightly browned but not dark.
- Then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the topping
NB – I didn’t use this recipe for the caramel as I had a can of caramel that I made by boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk fully submerged in water for 3 hours. If you don’t have time to boil a can of condensed milk for 3 hours or want to make caramel this way, feel free to use a can of Nestle Caramel Top’n'Fill (you may need to empty the can and warm it on medium heat in a saucepan to make it easier to spread over the base).
Print this Recipe
- Place the brown sugar and double cream in a heavy-based saucepan over low heat.
- Dissolve the sugar and then increase the heat and bring the mixture to the boil and keep boiling for about 5 minutes, stirring continuously whilst the cream thickens.
- Take off the heat and stir in the butter until it has all melted.
- Pour the caramel over the flapjack and spread with a palette knife.
- While still warm, sprinkle over the pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips, pistachio nuts and almonds.
- Cut into slices when completely cold.