First of all let’s clear up the looming misunderstanding. In this recipe my use of the term “Flapjack” is as used in the UK and Ireland, as opposed to it’s North American connotation.
If you find yourself unfamiliar with Flapjacks as they appear here well then you’re in for a treat. Defined as “a sweet, tray-baked oat bar, most commonly made from rolled oats, butter, brown sugar and golden syrup“- growing up they were the stuff of school-time treats. Like so many other bakes with a traditional heritage, a love of these oatty morsels falls into two distinct camps- soft & chewy or crunchy & crumbly. Both however offer comforting butteriness and sweetness with each rustic bite. At the end of the day it’s all a matter of time and taste.
The easiest way to describe a flapjack is to think of it as a granola bar. Like it’s pseudo-healthy breakfast cousin it’s basis is in the “slick ‘ em and stick ’em” method of ingredients. Here it’s the butter providing the “slick ’em” element with the “stick ’em” being provided by the amalgamation of sugar, corn & maple syrups, and molasses. The aforementioned ingredients and oats are the basic building blocks, carrying any number of preferred add-ins. Dried fruit, chocolate chips, caramel are all fair game here.
Having mentioned the flapjacks featured ingredient, the humble rolled oat, I feel it fair to offer a sliver of insight here. Flapjacks can be made using just the one type of oats- Rolled Oats (sometimes known as Jumbo Oats). I have found, however, that by using a mix of rolled oats and quick oats a sturdier, less crumbly flapjack is the end result, the latter oats providing a finer grain to act as an infill to the voids between the larger oat flakes.
Above all the flapjack is a bake that is easily tweaked to personal preference for taste and texture proving a lasting favorite that has stood the test of time. Once you have the essential slick ’em, stick ’em and oats in place the Flapjack World is your oyster!
2 2/3 sticks salted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoon golden corn syrup
2 tablespoons fancy molasses
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups jumbo rolled oats
2 cups quick oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 1/4 cup dried fruit slices, chopped (I’ve used a mix of apple, pear, apricot and mango)
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F (350 degrees F for a crunchier flapjack). Line and grease a 9′ x 12′ baking tin with baking parchment
In a large bowl combine the oats, coconut and dried fruit. Stir well to mix and break up any fruit clumps. Set aside for now
In a medium pan melt the butter with the sugar, syrup, molasses vanilla extract and salt. Stir well to combine until sugar has dissolved.
Pour the butter mixture over the oat mixture and stir well to ensure all the dry ingredients are coated
Tip the flapjack mixture into your prepared tin and press evenly for a flat surface
Bake in your preheated oven, middle shelf, for 25 minutes for chewy, 30 minutes for crunchy, until set and golden
Remove from the oven, wait for 5 minutes, then gently score the flapjacks, not going the full way through. For the size of tin I use here, I cut so I have 3 by 4 “square” pieces (2 cuts x 3)
Allow to cool completely in the tin. When fully cooled re-score where you’ve previously cut this time going the full way through
If you want to lend an extra decadent touch, drizzle over some melted chocolate
So by now we’ve pretty much settled into the new routine in our house. The kids are back at school and the last shred of my sanity has been saved. I’m back at my office day-job after a years adoption leave. Whilst the café trial run was successful, the practical implications were just too awkward. I’m chalking it up to being before it’s time. I’m still yearning for a career covered in buttercream and edible glitter, reeking of vanilla extract like some culinary show-diva, so my focus is on the on-line side of things for now. DH has gotten used to being woken up to the sound of the drill-like precision that is the school drop-off run. All in days work for a happy house surely.
People often raise an eyebrow when they find out we adopted two children. The eyebrows raise further when we mention we’ve moved house recently, and a little further still when conversation turns to my plans for Mr. Mom’s. Now that I’ve started back to my day-job, whilst trying to raise two kids, AND get a fledgling business off the ground their eyebrows positively fly off into oblivion, only to be replaced with a look of abject terror and confusion.
Sounds a lot I know. Don’t get me wrong- it is tiring. Also believe me when I say I would not be able I do this if it wasn’t for the support of DH. I’ve lost count of the times he’s arrived home to a kitchen full of sample bakes. “Not a problem”, I hear you say, except he doesn’t have a particularly sweet tooth. If I were making savoury muffins, oozing with cheese and umami goodness- now that would be another story altogether. Then there’s the massive dent that copious amounts of cupcake cases, plain flour and unsalted butter can make in one’s bank account. Thank goodness for patient husbands I say!
This week I’ve just had my first repeat order from a local restaurant. Some tweaks to be made but they ordered again. They ordered AGAIN! (Excuse me while I do a happy dance). I’m sure it’s more than just fate. The timely arrival of The Cake and Bake Show and Bake Off fervour allows for rather opportune tweeting of professionals to introduce myself and my wares to, and you know what? It seems to have paid off. Useful tips and wonderful banter from people interested in what I’m doing- and jolly nice people they are too! Slowly, like sugar reaching hard-ball stage, something is going on and word is spreading. The smell of “cupcakey” goodness is wafting from Mr. Mom’s Kitchen!
So the return to school not only warrants change for my little ones. My own daily routine is now shoe-horned full of activities- and you wonder where I get the inspiration for squeezing filling into my cupcakes from? Sure it’s been a learning curve. Tube delays are the enemy, and coffee has become my friend. Oh such a good friend!
But my KitchenAid even more so (yet another reason for me to be indebted to my DH). Without his rather choice selection of house-warming gift I don’t think I would have been so inspired to breathe life into Mr. Mom’s. In the past few weeks of immense change, the gentle growl of it’s motor has provided a steadfast reassurance. Between it and the warm oven they perform a homespun alchemy so that in no time there’s a bunch of comforting treats to chase away the days woes. I now get it when people say baking can be one of the best forms of relaxation. Call it therapy, call it cathartic, or just plain distraction, there is a calming feeling that comes from baking. The actions of weighing, melting, combining and folding ingredients all giving a sense of being grounded when your world might be tilting on its axis- even ever so slightly. But enough philosophical banter- this year’s Cake and Bake show looms on the horizon. I’ve shined my glasses, trained my quiff and brimming with enthusiasm I’ll follow the grimy District Line tracks to Earls Court like Dorothy on the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City. Hopefully I might see some of you there.
In the meantime, “Remember Mom’s the word – that’s Mr. Mom’s”.