Nutrition,  Top Tips

Is cake the perfect fuel for outdoor swimmers?

Forget energy gels, isotonic drinks, chia seeds and coconut oil, for many swimmers their fuel of choice is cake. Delicious cake.

With its finely tuned ratio of carbs, fats and protein, cake is so versatile that it can be used both pre-swim for energy and post-swim for recovery. We asked you for your favourite cake recipes for outdoor swimming and, after extensive research and testing, we have chosen the four tastiest recipes for you to try at home. Let us know what you think!

Vicky Miller’s Granny’s Tiffin

“Perfect for post Channel training swims! The best endorsement I have for this is that Freda Streeter is a big fan.”


600g bashed up digestives

300g butter

100g golden syrup

50g cocoa powder

600g milk chocolate


Melt the butter then stir in syrup and cocoa powder.

Mix in the crushed digestives.

Flatten out in a greased tray.

Melt chocolate and pour on top.

Decorate with melted white chocolate (optional).

Put in fridge overnight to set.

Deborah Vine’s Chocolate Banana Channel Cake

“This cake has now been on two channel relays and every training session at Dover and Bournemouth. I love it after a cold sea swim and it’s pretty popular on the beaches too. It is really quick and easy to make, it makes two loaves every time and it freezes fantastically.”


200g dark chocolate bar

175g butter

300g caster sugar

2 eggs

300g self-raising flour

1 teaspoon bicarb of soda

4 very coarsely chopped old bananas (we call them leopard bananas in our house)

4 tablespoons milk


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius

Grease and line 2 x 2lb loaf tins

Chop the chocolate into small chunks. Set aside.

Mix the butter, caster sugar and eggs in a food processor or by hand until light and fluffy. 

Add self-raising flour and bicarbonate of soda and mix well. 

Add chocolate, bananas and milk – mix just enough to get even distribution but not obliterate the chocolate chunks or bananas.

Divide between the two loaf tins.

Bake for 40–45 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

When cool, wrap in greaseproof and foil and freeze till needed.

Gluten-free version 

Substitute self-raising flour for any gluten free flour and add 4.5 teaspoons of gluten free baking powder. I usually use gram flour.

Katia Vastiau’s Biscotti

“These biscotti are the perfect after swim delight. Why? They are easy to make and keep well in a container for a week, they are small so perfect to share, they don’t need cutting into slices so perfect for limited faff outdoors, they can be held firmly in shaking hands and they taste heavenly! Mix the ingredients up a bit – the variations are endless.”


60-6 ml mild olive oil

135g granulated sugar

2 tsp vanilla paste

½ tsp almond extract

2 eggs 

225g plain flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

90g white chocolate, chopped

90g dried apricots, chopped

90g shelled pistachios, chopped


Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius.

Prepare the chocolate, apricots and pistachios by chopping them roughly into about 1.5cm chunks. 

Mix the olive oil and sugar until well blended, then add in the vanilla and almond extract and the two eggs.

Mix until well blended, but do not over-beat. The mixture will now be slightly sticky thanks to the sugar and eggs.

In a separate bowl sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Gradually add the dry ingredients to your wet mixture until well-blended. It will become quite stiff. 

Add the chocolate, pistachios and apricots while stirring gently to evenly distribute.

Take baking paper and line a baking sheet. 

Divide the dough in half and distribute the two halves side by side into log shapes on the baking paper. 

Moisten your hands with water to help shape the dough into a chunky log of about 30cm long and 10cm wide. 

The water will prevent the dough from sticking to your hands and help you mould the logs easily.

Bake the biscotti in the oven for about 25 minutes until lightly browned. 

Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes on a cooling rack without removing the baking paper.

Turn the oven down to 135 degrees.

Place the logs on a chopping board and slice them into 2cm slices with a sharp knife. Take each biscotti and place them cut side down on the baking paper and baking sheet. Bake for another 8 minutes until light golden. 

Cool biscotti on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container with baking paper in between. They will keep well for about a week

Kathy Findlay’s Ever-so Slightly ‘Naughty but Nice’ Recovery Biscuit

“I’m a long distance swimmer and sports nutritionist. My recovery biscuit contains banana to boost potassium levels to prevent post exercise cramping; maple syrup, raisins and carrots for high G.I. carbs for faster recovery; and protein-rich flax seeds for muscle repair. It also tastes gorgeous, so it’s a win win!”


1 egg (or 2 if needed)

118ml warm water

60ml maple syrup

2 tbsp milk

1 tbsp vanilla extract

60g any flour (could be coconut/almond for added protein)

55g flax seeds

2tsp mixed spice

1/2 tsp baking soda

3 medium grated carrots

40g raisins

4 tbsp icing sugar & enough water to form a drizzly icing


Mix the egg, warm water, bananas (mashed), syrup, milk and vanilla together.

Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl and then add the wet ingredients mixing well until smooth.

Add the carrots and raisins then shape your biscuit dough into small bars about 1/2 inch thick

Bake in an oven at 190 degrees Celsius for about 20-25 minutes until golden on the bottom.

Drizzle with icing once cooled.

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