For a while we have been cutting out disposable, non-recyclable plastic from our lives, and at the same time, trying to make more and more of our basics. We outsource so much these days! food, materials, production, education, entertainment, childcare - on and on.
This is part of my attempt to bring more of production and creation back into our domain - to insource.
So - Museli bars here in Australia are [a] high in sugar and fats, [b] small, and [c] expensive. I already make my own muesli, so why not go a step further... Of course, you can make bars in a cake tin, that you then cut to shape, but my experience is that they are uneven, poorly adhered, look daggy and require a lot of sugary, buttery bonding materials.
We need to be able to make our own stuff easily, quickly, and healthily - otherwise it remains simply a novelty activity, and we will return to buying stuff from the the supermarkets. I want this stuff to be mainstreamed....
So: here's the instructable. Making the moulds is the first part; once you have done that, you can make the muesli bars (part 2) in under 5 minutes. Easy peasy.
Step 1: Making the Moulds
If you want to make good muesli bars, that the kids can take to school and eat and be proud of, you need a decent mould. Lots of shapes will do as moulds, as long as they are flexible to get the finished bar out of.
I like working with Pinky Sil, so I used that to make some moulds. I cut the template from wood, and used a laminate trimmer to engrave it with 'YUM'. This doesn't show up on the muesli bars, but if you make chocolate backed muesli bars, it shows up wonderfully. Just a cute touch for the eater...
Cut the templates the same size as ordinary shop-bought bars - maybe 3cmx 10cm by 1cm. Or whatever size fits your kids lunch boxes.
Make the formwork for the moulds - I used off cuts of plastic, wood and steel rulers. Anything will do, but bear in mind that the wooden templates will float up in the uncured silicon, and that the silicon is initially a liquid, and will leak out of small holes or interstices...so glue down your templates, and ensure a tight formwork.
Step 2: Mix and Pour.
Pinky Sil is a 2 part silicon and you need to get the quantities perfectly equal, or the silicon won't set. Take this step carefully.
For my formwork and bar templates, I needed 100ml of silicon - 50ml of the white, 50ml of the pink. Mix it thoroughly. You have about 8 minutes to work with it. Blow on the mix once it is in the mould to help bubbles escape.
Step 3: Demould and Trim
As you can see, I stuck down my templates with tape, and the tape was too thick, and silicon got underneath. I should have used glue-stick.
Now it is time to trim... Silicon trims easily with artist knives.
I like to make in bulk, to save time and resources. So now I have three moulds and can make 6 bars at once.
Step 4: The Bonding
The bonding agent is oil, honey and sugar. If you look on the web, most people give recipes that use heaps of oil and sugar. What a load of hooey. I have worked it out that you can bond 6 bars together very well and firmly with 2 teaspoons of sugar, 1 large tablespoon honey, and one tablespoon olive oil.
You can add a bit of butter, or lemon juice or other stuff if you like to put flavour in here. Bring to the boil in a small saucepan, and as it browns, add the muesli, and remove from the heat, stirring vigorously.
For six bars, you need about 1.5 cups of muesli. You'll just have to experiment a bit to get it right. If you have too little - thin bars. If you have too much - poor adhesion.
Step 5: Form It Up
The mix should be nice and sticky now. Spatula it into the moulds, working it down firmly. I use a flat steel to finish them, pulling the steel lengthwise down the mould, pushing hard to pack the mix into the mould (pic 2).
Refrigerate to help it set. 30 mins is fine.
Step 6: Finished Bars.
Now that is as good as you get in the shops.
Each bar has about 0.5 teaspoon sugar, 1/6 tablespoon honey and oil. That is pretty healthy. You might even be able to drop out the sugar. Total time to make the bars- once you have the moulds, is about 5 mins.
To keep with the non-plastic approach, I made reusable bags for the bars.
My kids love them. My wife seems quite pleased too.
Cut out plastic! Reclaim production! Happy eating!