Reminiscing: Love Bars from PRET a Manger (London)

8 March 2010
by Phuoc

Clockwise from top left: City of London dragon found near London Bridge; one of the many guards; Tower of London (where Queen Anne Boyleyn was beheaded); Tower Bridge (not to be confused with London Bridge); trebuchet at Tower of London; London Eye; Beefeater

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.

Clockwise from top left: Westminster Abbey; one of the many gardens at Windsor Castle; Harrods; Queen Elizabeth II signage; Westham vs Sunderland football game; scones; Buckingham Palace; iconic London red post box; Big Ben

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! :P). 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.

Recipe  

Adapted from Pret on the Move by Jane Lunzer Gifford

Makes about 30 squares


Flapjack base

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

Topping

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:

  1. Preheat the oven to 150C (300F).
  2. Grease a 23cm (9 inch square) baking tray and line with baking paper.
  3. Warm the syrup, honey and butter in a medium saucepan over a low heat until butter melts.
  4. Add the oats, soft brown sugar and flour and mix well.
  5. Put mixture into the baking tin and press firmly into tin.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until the surface is lightly browned but not dark.
  7. 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).

  1. Place the brown sugar and double cream in a heavy-based saucepan over low heat.
  2. 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.
  3. Take off the heat and stir in the butter until it has all melted.
  4. Pour the caramel over the flapjack and spread with a palette knife.
  5. While still warm, sprinkle over the pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips, pistachio nuts and almonds.
  6. Cut into slices when completely cold.
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Clockwise from top left: One of the many Pret stores; gates of Buckingham Palace; another garden at Windsor Castle; guard and ravens at Tower of London; Big Ben and Palace of Westminster (House of Parliament)

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21 Comments

  1. betty

    oh man, that looks nice! Did you use rolled oats, the traditonal kind, not the quick oats- right?

  2. betty

    & i use the top and fill when im lazy as well,:P

  3. Phuoc

    I think I used the quick oats (as I don’t normally buy the traditional ones).. I don’t know if it makes a difference with these though, surely they shouldn’t because the recipe didn’t specify.

    Do try to make these! If you want to make a simple muesli bar just make the flapjack base and then sprinkle some choc chips before baking and whoola, instant muesli bars that taste WAY BETTER than those store-bought ones. Trust me.. :)

  4. foodwink

    Lovely post! I’d like to visit London one day, and hope to try Pret when I do.

    Look forward to reading more about your European rendezvous :)

  5. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Love Bar is a really cute name! I love visiting London (although I think I’d miss the sun if I lived there). Love the photos-makes me want to hop on a plane and visit again!

  6. Phuoc

    Foodwink: Thanks! I’m sure you’ll love London, there’s so much to see and do there.

    Lorraine: It is a cute name indeed.. Thanks for your comments; as I’m writing these posts and going through the photos it kills me because I want to go back badly!

  7. Anh

    I would love to go to London! It has so many things to see, yes? :)

    And your “love bar” looks and sounds really delicious.

  8. Phuoc

    Yes indeed. There’s so much to see and do there. I particularly liked it when I was in the castles and walking around picturing men riding their horses throughout the courtyards etc

  9. Belle@OohLook

    I used to get my breakfast from Pret when I was in London for work. So handy and so good. And your photos are brilliant, I love the red phone boxes!

  10. Phuoc

    Oh how good is it? Whoever starts up Pret here in Sydney would make millions! :) Thanks Belle for your lovely comment.

  11. Mark @ Cafe Campana

    I really like your recipe. So nutty and sweet.

  12. Phuoc

    Thanks Mark! There’s more yummy recipes to come; I hope you enjoy them!

  13. Trissa

    Guess what – i love Pret too! I even got their cookbook – I don’t remember seeing this – I have to have a look again – as it looks divine!

  14. Phuoc

    Oh it tastes divine as well.. I feel like some now.. Mmmm..

  15. Michelle

    I used to get my breakfast from Pret when I was in London for work. So handy and so good. And your photos are brilliant, I love the red phone boxes!

  16. Phuoc

    Thank you very much Michelle! My friends just came back from London and brought over Love Bars for me. I miss PRET, they need some in Sydney!

  17. sweetie

    hi phuoc,

    i’ve seen a version of this recipe which doesn’t list flour in the ingredients for the flapjack base. can i ask if adding the flour made the base too dry?

    thank you!

  18. Phuoc

    Hi! The addition of flour did not make it dry what so ever.

  19. MelbaToast

    God I loved Pret so much when I was in HK and London. LOVE their sambos with the super crunch bacon. I hope that a branch opens up here in Sydney…or about 100 branches all over Sydney would be better.

  20. Phuoc

    I miss PRET so much too! Ant and I are hoping the same thing too; we need PRET here in Sydney! There should be a petition running..

  21. First Aid Lessons

    Please email me with any hints on how you made this blog site look this good , I’d be appreciative!:)

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