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Saturday, 30 March 2013


I am wheat intolerant so when I go out for coffee or tea I often end up eating traditional flapjack. I must have eaten it in dozens of places, all over the U.K. Basically if I have been there I have probably partaken of flapjack there too. But despite my best efforts it seems to have all been in vain! Flapjack sales are falling - dramatically - 23 percent between 2011 and 2012. Apparently we Brits are turning to Victoria sponge cake, muffins and cereal bars instead. At this point I need to explain that a flapjack to us in the U.K. is not the same as a flapjack in the U.S. Apparently, over the pond, flapjacks are actually pancakes whereas over here they are baked bars made from oats.

 In the U.S., Canada and South Africa what I know as flapjacks you call granola bars and in Australia they are called cereal or muesli bars. A cereal bar here is not quite the same as traditional flapjack. We do have granola bars over here but on the whole when we eat granola it is for breakfast. This is almost as confusing as trying to explain the rules of cricket to someone who has never watched a game before.

There seems to be doubt as to the derivation of the name but a 'jack' can be a word used to mean 'any old thing' and the U.S. pancakes are flipped over or 'flapped' so that does explain the American version. But the name regarding the British flapjack remains a mystery although it has been around for ages. Flapjacks were mentioned in Shakespeare's Pericles as an after dinner treat.

'Come, thou shalt go home, and we'll have flesh for holidays, fish for fasting-
days, and moreo'er pudding and flap-jacks, and thou shalt be welcome.'

Flapjack has so much to recommend it. For one thing no two flapjacks taste the same. I don't know how this happens because the ingredients can be identical but wherever you go the flapjack will always have its own unique taste and texture. Another bonus is that it is filling. Whilst I love a piece of Victoria sponge cake or a blueberry muffin (wheat free obviously), they don't fill you up and keep you going in the same way as flapjack.

The other brilliant thing about flapjack is the variety. You can add so many things to them. The last ones I made were cranberry and white chocolate chips.

But I also love crystallised ginger combined with the rind of an orange or glace cherries and a drizzle of icing over the top. You can top them with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chocolate or melted marmalade. You can make a flapjack sandwich and spread a layer of apple sauce in the middle before baking. One of my favourite tea rooms, Lockwoods does a lovely dried apricot and ginger flapjack. There are loads more combinations. They are too numerous to mention.

Of course one reason for the fall in the sale of flapjacks could be (and I really hope that this is the reason), is that people are actually making them themselves. And they really are so quick and easy to make.

So here is my flapjack recipe.

8oz porridge oats
4oz soft brown sugar
4oz butter
2tbsp golden syrup
(or honey, maple syrup, even black treacle)
Place sugar, butter and golden syrup in a saucepan and melt over a gentle heat.
Combine with oats and spread into an 8" square tin (greased).
Bake at 180 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes*
*Do watch your flapjack carefully. It is important not to overcook or they will become too hard when setting.. The edge should be browning slightly and the centre still golden. I also sometimes add an extra ounce of oats if I want the flapjack to be a bit drier.

Then all I need is a pretty plate, a cup of tea, a glossy magazine or a good book and I'm happy.

Wishing all of you much happiness this Easter weekend and thank-you for reading.

1 comment:

  1. You're making my mouth water. I love the idea of adding chocolate chip. You may be getting that next time you come round, possibly with cherries. Yummy!

    Have a great Easter weekend :-)