Saturday, October 19, 2013

Flapjack Fail

I made a great discovery when I was in the UK last month - flapjacks! They turned out to be a lifesaver on more than one occasion when Kath and I needed something gluten-free to eat. They were often the only gluten-free item available, and they had the added bonus of being healthy since they had all those oats in them. Or so we thought at the time.

When I got home I started Googling recipes. It didn't take me very long to realize those "healthy" snacks we had been indulging in were not so healthy after all. In fact, it appears the oatmeal's job in these bars is to soak up the massive amounts of butter and sugar they contain. Well, never mind that. I was determined to replicate them in my own kitchen.

I settled on this recipe out of The Guardian. I went to the British shop in nearby Chilliwack and purchased some official Lyle's Golden Syrup, and then found some Demerara sugar at the grocery store. I had butter and both regular and large cut oatmeal at home, so I was set to go.




I even weighed out my ingredients in proper British fashion to make sure I had it exactly right.




I have to admit it was a little alarming to see that huge glob of butter.



They smelled heavenly while they were cooking, and looked quite promising when I pulled them out of the oven. The problem was trying to eat them. They tasted as delicious as they smelled, but they simply did not hold together. I suspect the problem was the addition of the jumbo oats, but I'm not certain. If anyone has a tried and true recipe for flapjacks could you please send me a link, leave me a comment, or email me the recipe? Thanks - I am determined to get this right!

36 comments:

  1. No, flapjacks aren't exactly health food, but they are truly delicious. Mine have a tendency to fall apart when i make them with jumbo oats, rather than ordinary porridge oats, and I've found I have to leave them in the baking tray until absolutely cold and set before attempting to move them. This means marking them into slices while hot and then leaving them to cool completely. Better luck next time. :-)

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    1. This confirms what I suspected to be the culprit - the jumbo oats. I did cut them into slices while hot and left them to cool before eating, but still had trouble. I will try them again with just the quick oats. Thanks!

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  2. I think it's the jumbo oats too. Or just eat them with a spoon ;-). I'd just finished eating a flapjack when I read this! (I hadn't made it, sadly)

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    1. Ha! We did end up eating them with a spoon. That's funny that you had just finished eating a flapjack before you read this blog post. :-)

      The next batch will be made minus the jumbo oats. I wonder why the recipe I used called for them. ??

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  3. Don't oats have gluten in them? I've been eating wheat- and gluten-free the last few months, and I haven't had my usual oatmeal because I thought they did.

    The flapjacks look great, though.

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    1. Oats themselves don't have gluten, but they are often cross-contaminated with wheat. If you want to be 100% sure you are eating gluten-free oats buy the packages that are labelled as such. I'm glad you have found out you can have your usual oatmeal again!

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    2. That is really exciting for me! Thanks, Kristie. I'm going light on grain these days, but knowing I can have a bowl of steel-cut oats every once in a while makes me so happy.

      Plus, now I can make flapjacks!

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  4. I've never tried them but they sound delicious. That butter does look a little alarming, though. I hope you can find a more healthy recipe but I think your recipe sounds like a really good one for a treat. :)

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    1. It isn't the butter that alarms me as much as the sugar. But not enough to stop me from wanting to make them again to see if I can get them right!

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  5. Flapjacks made at home never seem to have the squidgy consistency of bought ones. If you want to cut down on the butter, Dan Lepard's halva flapjacks are my favourite.

    http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/24/halva-flapjacks-recipe-dan-lepard

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    1. It makes you wonder what they put in the bought ones, doesn't it? Thanks for the link. I will check that recipe out!

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  6. If you want your flapjacks to hold together when they're cut up and cold, make sure you press the mixture down really hard before baking. I use the back of a dessert spoon. I use everyday porridge oats; never used jumbo oats. I hope you have another go, and I'm glad to found them good to eat in the UK. MelindaJ.

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    1. I am definitely having another go. I think I will make them again next weekend when I have family visiting - that way my husband and I won't end up eating the whole batch between the two of us. Thanks for the advice about pressing them down really hard before baking. I will be sure to do that!

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  7. I find my flapjacks can either fall apart or are too hard. You could see if you any anymore sucess with either of these recipes http://paulashomemadelife.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/310-flapjacks-with-marshmallows-salted.html or http://thequincetree65.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/golden-syrup.html.
    Sarah x

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    1. Thank you Sarah for confessing that your flapjacks don't always turn out perfectly. I no longer feel alone. :-)

      And thanks for the recipe links. I will have a look at them.

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  8. I don't think I have ever eaten flapjacks, and I'm not entirely sure what they are Kristie. However, they sound delicious and anything with oats gets my vote, but I can see that the butter could be a bit alarming... when you make again, do please show a picture so I can see what I am missing out on :-)

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    1. In Canada and the US flapjacks are pancakes. But in the UK they are oat bars. They look a bit like a granola bar, at least if they turn out right. If they don't they look more like granola cereal. I would have posted a picture, but they weren't all that photogenic crumbled up on a plate. If I have some success I will try to remember to take a picture before they all get eaten. :-)

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  9. I have rarely made a good flapjack, they either look like granola or so hard I break a tooth eating them. I am not so good at measuring the ingredients and just do it my eye, which is probably the reason why they don't work well, but i think you may have the answer in that the oats were too big, the cheaper smaller ones do seem to hold together better. Good luck for the next batch

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    1. Oh, both you and Sarah at Down By the Sea have made me feel so much better! It's always nice to have company in the midst of one's failures. :-)

      The next batch will only have the small quick oats. I will report back after I try them again.

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  10. This is an eye opener. I thought flapjack was just another name for pancake. So of course I also didn't know they went in the oven. I've been so sheltered!
    I'd love to see the finished product from your next batch.

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    1. That's what Kath and I thought too, so were somewhat confused by the name when we first encountered them. I will post a picture of the next batch IF they turn out. :-)

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  11. PS - I'm commenting from my iPod.

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    1. I am impressed by your bravery. I worry too much about hitting the wrong letters on my phone's keyboard to ever comment from it. Auto-correct is not my friend.

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  12. I also was so North American that at first I thought you were discussing pancakes ...
    Sounds delicious. How could one go wrong with Lyle's Golden Syrup?
    LisaRR

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    1. This was the first time I have used Lyle's Golden Syrup, and I have to admit it is rather tasty. But definitely not healthy!

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  13. I know absolutely nothing about flapjacks, but I volunteer as a taste-tester on your next batch... ;)

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    1. If you're in the neighbourhood next time I make a batch please stop by! :-)

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  14. I've made flapjacks for years - exactly what kids need when they come in tired and hungry from school. But they do need to have a bit of chewy about them.
    Lately they have been rather crisp for me and I realised - although I have always used standard porridge oats, I use butter for baking nowadays, instead of the soft magarine I used when I was feeding the five thousand on not much money. That has a certain amount of water in the mix. I have tried putting in a good tablespoon of water, and it helped. I wouldn't worry too much about pressing it down - just smooth it so it is even. It should be bubbling up when it comes out of the oven - I was always told to wait until it stops "singing" before marking out the slices. Just so you know, my amounts are:
    8oz oatmeal
    4oz demerara sugar (light brown with large crystals, and you don't need to get it dissolved before mixing.)
    6oz butter of margarine bearing in mind what I said before.
    1 tablespoon golden syrup.
    Keep trying - it is pretty healthy if you have plenty of people to share it with!

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    1. Thanks for the tip about adding a tablespoon of water. And thanks for the recipe! I have a question about it - do you bring the butter, sugar and syrup to a boil before adding the oatmeal?

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  15. Oh and the other thing is I never miss lining the tin with greaseproof - miss that and they DON'T want to come out!

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    1. Yes - I used parchment paper on the bottom of the pan, but not on the sides. It was stuck like glue to the parts without the parchment. :-)

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  16. Sorry, I can't help, I don't make them, never have, all that butter and syrup has always put me off. But I do like to eat them sometimes :)

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    1. I would have to say they had much more appeal when I didn't know what the ingredients were. Ha!

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  17. As far as preparation goes, I have always gently melted the fat sugar and syrup on the hob and not been too concerned if the sugar still has crystals visible - I reckon that if you start going as far as boiling, you are in caramelisation territory, and that would change the texture. The point is to get everything thoroughly mixed, then bake.
    I think the recipe comes from the days when country folk had a heavy physical workload, and needed to insert calories. That's what makes it such a good pocket food for strenuous hiking, just so long as you can get the texture right, It should hold together reasonably well!

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  18. Kristie - about westie's skin irritations.We have had lots of problems with Daisy and skin irritations and when we first got her about 5 years ago the vet put her on steriods. I wasn't keen on that but took their advice, she had a low dose 1 tablet a week but continued to have flare ups from time to time and I had to increase the dose. Last year I discovered Grizzly salmon oil for dogs from Amazon. Touch wood she has had now skin problems and no longer has steriods, so I would recommend trying it as seems to have worked for Daisy. If you need any further info let me know.
    Sarah x

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    1. Thank you so much for this recommendation! I have ordered some from Amazon. Hopefully it works as well for Fergus as it does for Daisy. The vet had Fergus on steroids for about a week, but it was horrible. I won't use them again. I'll let you know how this works out!

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