This recipe is gluten- and dairy-free and has a texture similar to that of fruit cake. It’s so simple to make and can be prepared in advance for the week. There do seem to be a lot of ingredients, but if you do a lot of baking you will have these things in your cupboards already and, if not, you can improvise as long as the weights are equal to those ingredients you substitute. If you don’t have buckwheat flour and you’re not aiming for a gluten-free result, use plain flour instead. We have called this a breakfast bar but – if you want to live on the edge a little – eat it at another time of day.

MAKES 8

unsalted butter or sunflower oil, for the tin

50g rolled oats
15g desiccated coconut
40g hazelnuts, chopped
40g walnuts, chopped
40g peanuts, chopped
150g pitted dates, chopped
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g buckwheat flour
25g dried cranberries
25g raisins
50g dried apricots, chopped
50g candied mixed peel
1 ripe banana, mashed
2 tbsp honey
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 165°C/fan 145°C/gas mark 3. Butter or oil a 26 x 12cm loaf tin, then line the base and sides with baking parchment.
Spread the oats and desiccated coconut over one non-stick baking tray, and all the chopped nuts over another, then toast in the oven for 10–20 minutes or until golden brown, turning with a spatula every 5 minutes to ensure they cook evenly and don’t catch and burn.
Pour 150ml of water into a saucepan, add the dates and bicarb and set over a medium heat until the water has mostly evaporated and the dates have softened, about 5 minutes. The bicarb will turn the dates a dark green colour, but don’t be alarmed! Blend them to a smooth purée using a hand-held blender, then combine in a large mixing bowl with all the other ingredients, including the toasted oats, coconut and nuts.
Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for 30–40 minutes or until firm to the touch. Allow to set in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.
Once cool, cut into 8 thick slices. These will keep very well in an airtight container for up to 1 week.