February Flapjacks

Now is the season of my discontent
Made happy eating by this plate of flapjacks

  • 250 g Porridge oats
  • 175 g soft butter
  • 85 g of chopped glacé cherries
  • 60 g of slightly crushed flaked almonds
  • 50 g of salted caramel sauce or 50 g golden syrup (Choclette is right and I had too much sweet stuff here – been back and weighed properly when I made them again, and have dropped the syrup quantities)
  • 125 g soft brown sugar
  • two capfuls of Kirsch (why not? – actually don’t, because you can’t taste it…)

These have always been called flapjacks in England as far as I know, though I understand from my transatlantic readers that the word flapjack is used to describe a popular breakfast pancake in the US and Canada.  Another one of those words that has two different uses. See the comments for the discussion on this.

Melt the butter a bit, add the sugar and caramel sauce, use golden syrup if you don’t have salted caramel sauce, or use both, or something similar. Golden syrup is traditional though.

Stir in the oats and cherries and Kirsch and almonds,  or if you don’t have any of those add anything you think goes with oats that takes your fancy or be purist and don’t add anything else. You can add chocolate chunks, or any nut you like, I think Brazils are good, as are dried fruits, dried locusts, honey or manna from heaven, the choice is yours! It’s only flapjacks after all. If the mixture is too wet add more oats and vice versa. The mixture should be sticky but not swimming in extra liquid.

Once all mixed well together and looking suitably unctuous, i.e. with no dry oats showing in the mix, (the Danish dough hook is good for mixing things like this), spread the lot out on a buttered and parchment lined 30 x 25 cm tray to a depth of about 2 cms. They will puff up a bit when they bake. If your tray is smaller and your flapjacks are taller then bake them a bit longer.  Try and spread the mixture out evenly and then pat and press it down firmly with your knuckles. Resist the urge to lick your fingers while you are doing this.

Bake at 160ºC in an electric fan oven for 20 minutes till they are golden and bubbling –  you might need more heat in a conventional oven. If you mark them where you want to cut them while they are still hot it will be easier to cut them up later, I forgot to go round the inside edge of the tray with a blunt knife while they were hot which also makes it easier to get them out of the tray later.  This tray made 16 biggish pieces.

Slice when almost cool and lever them out of the tin. Best to use an old tin and line it, rather than a non-stick one as they can be very sticky and then glue themselves to the edges of the tin while they cool. Try not to eat them all at once, but if you do, remind yourself that oats are very, very good for you.  I made these a fair bit when I was a kid, I think I was more enthusiastic about them than anyone else in the family though. I have learnt not to overcook them though, the ones I made as a child were often rock hard and sometimes a little burnt too.

If you did happen to eat too many however, take a brisk walk around the garden and see what’s growing…

In a mild climate like ours in the West of England, even in February there are buds and leaves unfurling despite the recent frosts. The continental influx of blackbirds and robins has swelled the numbers visiting the garden to eat the dried mealworms we put out. The jackdaws who are nesting in the chimneys of my neighbours have worked out how to fly at the feeders and swing them so the seeds fall out and Fatty the Wood Pigeon watches and waits patiently underneath. He made the mistake of telling his friends about the free food though and the local Sparrowhawk starts doing more swoop throughs – he picks them off the fence where they sit. Only the smartest pigeons survive….

25 thoughts on “February Flapjacks

  1. heidi

    Here in America- we call pancakes- flapjacks – in the colloquial. So when we were in North Umberland, and stopped for breakfast on our way to Hadrian’s wall, my younger son ordered flapjacks and was so looking forward to something other than fried bread and beans for breakfast. He was so disappointed to get what he called a granola bar on his plate. I should make these for him today. In fact, I think I will! They look delicious when one isn’t anticipating a fluffy pancakes swimming in butter and syrup!
    Thanks for the recipe and the memory, Joanna!

    1. Joanna Post author

      He must have been so disappointed and I think I would have been too, expecting lovely fluffy pancakes and getting one of these for breakfast. I’ll change the name of the post so as not to confuse maybe. Edit : I’ve now put a note in the body of the post instead :)

  2. Debra Kolkka

    This looks delicious. I think I need to try it. You are way ahead of us here in Italy with spring. It is freezing here and there are just a few bulbs poking their heads up.

    1. Joanna Post author

      My garden is quite sheltered and faces south and has a lot of hard landscaping in it which seems to hold heat much like an old fashioned storage heater. We are milder and wetter than the East coast, which has just had drought declared I think.

  3. Jeannette

    Lovely pictures from your garden, Joanna! Although I do quite a lot of baking I have never been very good at making flapjacks, I think I must overcook them as they get too hard. My daughter makes them and they are always first class!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Glad you like the pictures, it’s always so reassuring when you find the odd plant breaking leaf, though at Westonbirt, the early cherries and ground flowering plants were definitely not out yet on Sunday and that’s not very far from here.

      I think the thing with flapjacks if you want them squidgy is to cook them for a shorter time and take them out when they look not quite done, they seem to firm up quite quickly once they cool. Lucky you to have someone make them for you though :)

  4. ceciliag

    Loved flapjacks when I lived in London, thanks for the recipe and your birdfeeder sounds like heaps of fun! we have doves, dovegrey doves that sit below our feeder, well them and the guineas of course!! c

    1. Joanna Post author

      I love the sound of doves cooing and they look so much more delicate than our wood pigeon thugs. B used to keep birds once upon a time and he is very fond of them all.

  5. C

    Love the versatility – a good base recipe will take all sorts of additions and flavours. Have to admit that while raw cake mix really doesn’t do it for me, I’m a sucker for unbaked flapjack mixture… mmmm, sticky!

    Love the garden pics – I have a battle going between some tulips and some dandelions in a pot. I think the tulips are winning at the moment though :-) (I’m a rubbish gardener – just too lazy!)

    1. Joanna Post author

      I was just trying to make something biscuity that didn’t involve cutters and rolling. I am so very lazy about these things, and as for the plants they are looking after themselves, they are all shrubs (and a tree) in those photos – though we did rake some of the moss out of half the tiny lawn we have and dug out a thistle or two the other day.

  6. Choclette

    Fabulous pictures of your garden – I do love that cherry bark. Your flapjacks look good, but I was surprised you liked them as sweet as this – seem to remember you saying you didn’t like things overly sweet. I put much less sugar in mine in proportion to the oats and they are still very sweet.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I might have got the sugar wrong… I will have to look at my notebook which is downstairs. Edit : Yes you are right! Thanks for pointing that one out! What I like best is the salt/sweet combination of caramel and toffee flavours Choclette, I have a definite weakness for those and dark bitter chocolate cake :)

  7. Just A Smidgen

    I’ve never eaten flapjacks like these.. my dad told me flapjacks were pancakes? These look so yummy and lucky you, with all those birds and things growing in your garden!!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Yes! Heidi says that your fluffy breakfast pancakes in the US and Canada are often called flapjacks, and are something not to order for breakfast here as her son found out when they came over here on holiday. The birds start tweeting at about 3 am in the city. The robins and the blackbirds are particularly vocal from now for about the next two to three months :)

  8. julienoreen

    Loved your photo’s. Its so hot in Australia 39-42 so not much left of my garden I am afraid. I have never even seen snow so I find it hard to imagine.

    I love your dog and his ready to pounce pose.


    1. Joanna Post author

      Wow that is hot! I wouldn’t bake a sausage if it was that warm here. What part of Australia do you live in Julienoreen? I’ll send Zeb your love, thanks for visiting and I hope it cools down for you soon :)

  9. Jean

    Looks chewy and filling!

    Here in Alberta, we call pancakes, flapjacks. Every year in our city we have the Calgary Stampede which celebrates cowboy and rodeo culture. All over the city there are free community breakfasts for 1 wk. in July where there are flapjacks, sausages and coffee.

    I would call your recipe more soft squares or bars. Or maybe we find a completely unique name by you hosting a readers naming contest…. :D

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hi Jean, I had a look last night following Heidi’s comment about the name of these bars. Just a Smidgen also lives in Calgary and said the same thing. I live and write in the UK and so I name foods I write about with the commonly used and familiar English names. I call courgettes, courgettes,we use the French name, you maybe use the Italian (zucchini) aubergine too (I believe you call it eggplant) . A biscuit is a biscuit (and not a scone). The English get confused when they come across the Atlantic too! there are many words that we share but use to describe different things, one of the many delights of the way the English language changes and mutates as it evolves in the places where it is spoken.

      Fortunately it is easy enough to look them up on the internet and you can always find the British English/American English translations there. Cornflour = cornstarch is the only one that usually I take trouble to point out as it is a general source of confusion.

      If I called them something else, my English readers would be puzzled.I’ve added a note in the body of the text for my transatlantic readers today.

      By coincidence today in England is Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday, or even ‘Fat Day’ in Sweden when everyone is supposed to use up their eggs and so on and make pancakes in preparation for Lent.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thanks Kari :) funnily enough I am just about to decide what sort of pancakes to make for supper tonight. I think I might do thin French buckwheat galettes, filled with chicken and mushrooms or maybe vegetables and cheese…..

  10. hotlyspiced

    Oh, is that a flap-jack? I thought flap-jacks were pancakes. I’d call this a slice. I do think this looks like one of those great snacks where it’s hard to stop at one. Love the addition of cherries – sounds very tasty.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Use your Lyles for that special English flapjack taste. Pam Corbin has them in her Cake book, but uses demerara sugar and not very much syrup. Better with a slightly toffee/caramel taste imo, but as you know she is very good. I do like that book :)

  11. Sincerely, Emily

    Well, those do look good. I make granola bars that my husband takes on his drive to work every morning. These might be a nice switch for a change. I will tell him they are flapjacks and he will really be confused when he looks at them (American here) and wonders if I am lost the plot (English saying I think) or if I forgot to put flapjacks in his container. Flapjack, granola bar, soft bar, whatever… I love learning the different names for different things. I will most likely put nuts (but not locusts – those are a type of grasshopper here) and dried cranberries & coconut in mine.

    Your garden photos are also wonderful. Neat to see what is popping out in your yard. Emily

    1. Joanna Post author

      The locusts! You noticed, I love it when people notice ;) I don’t have any in the cupboard, but insect eating is very fashionable these days, I read some great articles about it last year. Lovely to hear from you Emily :)

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