Last week I started on a work experience placement with Food and Travel magazine in London and five am starts along with four hours of commuting a day, combined with the draining effects of getting used to a new job, nerves and a desire to make a good impression, have left me unbelievably tired and without a lot of time to bake or write anything. I did, however, manage to quickly throw a batch of flapjacks together last weekend and I am beyond glad that I did. Come four pm every afternoon, they serve as a near essential energy boost to get me through to the end of the day and the long commute out of London.
Being away from home also means I’m away from my camera….so sorry about the poor photo quality, I’m having to make do with just my phone!
I have come to the conclusion that flapjacks are one of the most comforting things to bake. There’s something reassuring about them, something familiar and nostalgic about the simple combination of oats, butter and sugar, the soft chewy centres and even chewier edges.Travelling down on the train to where I’m currently staying outside London, my craving for one of these flapjacks and a cup of tea was intense. A craving that was quite possibly heightened by the fact that my lunch consisted of plain oatcakes and salt and vinegar snack-a-jacks – their monosodium glutamate tang reminding me all too clearly (and not at all fondly) of the packets of Space Raiders I would consume in secondary school, three at a time, and call it lunch…a behaviour at which, I assure you, I am ashamed!
Snack-a-jacks and plain oatcakes, munched while reading a food magazine. It became hard to tell whether my above average saliva production was due to reading about ‘turbot, baked in a champagne sauce’ and ‘ethereal rice pudding and prune soufflé’ or to eating dry oatcakes. I’d hazard a guess it was a combined effect of the two…
These flapjacks are considerably more complex than your basic variety and the one I usually favour, flapjacks being one of the few exceptions where I feel tradition and simplicity shouldn’t be messed with. Not only are these filled with raisins, cranberries and pecans, but I also added ground almonds, dessicated coconut and swapped the usual golden syrup for maple. The result was fractionally drier than my usual flapjack, but no worse off for being so, and better than a few I’ve made in the past that have been a little over-greasy. The not-too-sweet sweetness of these is ideal, with the dried fruit and nuts adding extra chewiness and crunch respectively. The almond-coconut-maple syrup addition adds subtle background flavours that make these altogether more morish…eat one and it’s near on impossible not to eat a second…a good or a bad thing depending on how you look at it!
And the best thing about flapjacks? They don’t require wheat to begin with, meaning they will never have to suffer the, often disappointing – I’m quickly discovering – results of wheat substitution. Not that wheat substitution means ‘disappointing’ as in ‘bad’, but more, disappointing in that things taste different, unfamiliar. But even with all the extra flavours going on, these flapjacks still feel reassuringly flapjacky, and for that they definitely won’t disappoint.
Fruity, nutty, maple syrupy flapjacks
- 100g butter
- 40g caster sugar
- 45g soft brown sugar
- 75ml maple syrup
- 75g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
- 60g raisins
- 40g dried cranberries
- 40g dessicated coconut
- 40g ground almonds
- 200g oats
- Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas 3.
- Melt the butter in a medium-large pan. Add the sugars and maple syrup and stir, over a low heat, until the sugar has dissolved and the mix just begins to bubble.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the pecans, raisins, cranberries, coconut, ground almonds and oats until well combined and everything is coated in the buttery syrup.
- Tip the mix into a roughly 20x25cm baking tin and spread out with the back of a metal spoon or spatula, pressing the mix down firmly.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins until pale golden.
- Remove the flapjacks from the oven, give them another press down with the back of a spoon/spatula to ensure they will hold together, score into bars and allow to cool.
- Once cold, re-cut the pieces and remove from the tin.