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by Anne-Marije Rook
April 6, 2016
Photography by Irmo Keizer
WOMEN'S CYCLING BROUGHT TO YOU BY ORBEA
The Boels-Dolmans team seems untouchable this season. They have won every event in the UCI Women’s WorldTour (WWT), and the series’ leader and world champion Lizzie Armitstead’s main competitor in the WWT rankings is her own teammate Chantal Blaak. While Wiggle High5’s Emma Johansson came close to taking a win away from Boels-Dolmans this past weekend, all other races have been pure domination.
How do they do it?
Sure, they certainly train hard. They trust each other and work well as a team, but Ella CyclingTips recently learned that perhaps there’s more. Their secret to success may just be…the homemade baked goods they lovingly bake for one another before races!
It was Blaak’s oatmeal apple pie that fueled the team before Armitstead’s win in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Armitstead’s carrot walnut cake led to a victory in Strade Bianche and Nikki Harris’ banana bread powered Blaak to a solo victory in Ronde van Drenthe. So it seems you can have your pie and race your bike to victory, too.
“Of course! No, you can’t eat pie every day because you need good, nutritious fuel but there is nothing wrong with a piece of pie or cake at the right time,” said Blaak, who enjoys baking her own muesli bars when she’s got time.
The team’s collective baking started spontaneously, but when they so happened to win after the first few times baked goods were had, a tradition was born.
“We have a team Whatsapp group and we were joking around about motivation and we came up with the idea of a “Boels baking club”. Each race one of us had to bake something and bring it to the race. What person doesn’t enjoy cakes?! Seems pretty good motivation to me,” explained Harris. “It’s nothing really to do with celebration. Most of the time the cake’s gone before we make the start line. Seems to be good power food so far and taste far better than most of the other kind of pre-race fuel options!”
“It was very funny and coincidental that the first couple times that we baked ahead of the race, we won,”added Blaak. “But it’s not a superstition, I think all of us enjoy spending time in the kitchen and so it’s just for fun. Our little team thing.”
Harris was kind enough to share her ‘winning’ banana bread recipe with us. Maybe it’ll lead us to victory also.
“My banana bread is actually a Jamie Oliver recipe,” Harris admitted. “It certainly wasn’t a healthy option one, but who’s going to win a race anyway on low calorie cake?!”
100g mixed nuts
500g (about 5 or 6) ripe bananas, peeled
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g dark brown sugar
2 large free-range eggs
200g plain flour
2 level teaspoons baking powder
1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of sea salt
– Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas 3. Spread the walnuts out on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven to gently toast for around 5 minutes.
-Meanwhile mash up the bananas with a fork or potato masher, so you’ve got a mixture of smooth and chunky, and put them aside.
-Cream the butter and sugar together in a food processor, or by hand, until smooth and pale, and beat in the eggs one by one, scraping the sides as you go so everything gets mixed together, then spoon into a large bowl.
-Take the toasted walnuts out of the oven and put them on a chopping board. Quickly run a knife through them, leaving some halved and others fairly fine so you get a good range of textures.
-Add the mashed bananas and chopped up walnuts to the bowl of batter, then sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix everything together until you have a nice smooth batter.
– Tear off a metre of greaseproof paper, scrunch it and wet under a tap.
– Drizzle a little olive oil over both sides and rub that in, then push the scrunched greaseproof into a 1-litre loaf tin, getting it right down into the corners (it’s ok if it’s a bit scruffy).
– Transfer the batter to the tin and cook on the middle shelf in the oven for 1 hour.
– After this time, test the loaf by poking a skewer into the middle. If the skewer comes out clean the loaf is cooked, if not put the tin back in the oven for another few minutes.