A RECIPE: Mum’s flapjacks

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My greatest pleasure when I receive compliments for my work in the kitchen is when people say that it’s better than their mothers. Usually said compliment is followed by a lengthy description about the effort and time that their mother had put into making the dish, the time of year it was made and a laborious list of ingredients that went into it. When somebody tells me that it’s not as good as their mothers, I have to be honest I find it difficult to look them in the eye, let alone listen to their tedious story about why their mothers rendition was so much better than mine even though it used boxed cake mix and margarine.

I find myself praising my mothers cooking little and often. Little because I (and I say this with the up most respect, mum) only remembe a handful of truly wonderful things and often because I speak of this handful of glorious dishes like a child mourning the loss of a pet guinea pig.  This goes to be said for most things I eat- if it’s fabulous I bank eternally in my taste memory. If it’s average I’ll forget it and if it’s poor it will on occasion come to haunt my dreams or worse yet a reminder will appear in the form of a bitter taste in my mouth.

Eternally banked in my good memory are the taste of my mothers flapjacks. I expect you want to know why these flapjacks are better than yours, your mothers and Nigellas? So, here comes my lengthy rant: My mum makes the best bloody flapjacks around- and those fortunate enough to try them fresh out of the over are forced into submission. I have school friends who still rave about ‘those squidgy oat things your mum made’. They are the only thing that I can consistently rely on seeing in my mothers depressingly sparse pantry. A reminder that there are no longer three hungry children in the house and yet the flapjacks live on.

What makes mum’s flapjacks so wonderfully special to me is they break all the rules. Firstly, most flapjacks set up hard but mum throws in an extra glug of golden syrup and spoonful of flour which leaves them crunchy on the edges, chewy in the middle and with a delicious sticky bottom. These are not tooth breakers but merely tooth rotters. Secondly, (and I’m sure you can imagine my shock and horror when I discovered this myself) mum uses margarine instead of butter. Yup, marg- that stuff we avoid like processed cheese for all its bad fats and oils. This is the second time in the past month that I’ve been confronted rather hostily by a recipe containing margarine, which I’ve been forced to admit tastes nicer than my own butter counterpart. But why, I hear you ask? In the flapjacks case, my mum just shrugged her shoulders, you can use butter if you like, she said but it makes them too rich. and my mum always used margarine because it’s cheaper. In these economic times who can complain about that? Of course, feel free to use butter- I won’t judge, not now that I have seen the virtues of margarine, but like I said they won’t be my mum’s amazing flapjacks made with butter. And if you’re still fretting about the bad fats popping out to haunt you just remind yourself that you’re much better off making something from scratch with margarine than buying something processed. I’m just saying.

I have pestered my mum for the recipe ever since I started this blog but being something that my mother could competently bake blindfolded it was difficult to get proper answers from her. A recipe that’s stored in somebody’s head is the hardest to get right. How much flour? Oh, one of my dessert spoonfuls, slightly mounded. How much golden syrup? Oh, about a third of the jar. This was no weigh your ingredients to match your eggs weight Victoria sponge. Last weekend, however, I made a trip home, and in a break from the never ending wedding planning to-do list I made it a priority for us to fit in a flapjack lesson- one on one; with a set of scales.

You can thank me later. In the meantime I suggest you buy yourself some margarine- it could be the best decision you’ve made all year.


Mum’s flapjacks

If you are really adverse to margarine then you can opt for butter but whatever you do, make sure that you have a taste of them fresh out of the oven.

Makes about 15

Diet Facts: hydrogenated fats and sugar slathered oats, sounds like a granola bar to me!

225g/8 oz margarine (or butter)

175g/6 oz sugar

140g/5oz golden syrup

425g/15oz oats (the 1 minute variety, not instant or rolled)

1 heaped tbsp/ 1 oz plain flour

small handful pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds (optional)

2 Tbsp flaxseeds (optional)

1/ Heat the oven to 350F/180C/Gas 4. Line a 20 x 30 cm ( baking tin with greaseproof paper (parchment paper)

2/ In a large pan, heat together the margarine, sugar and golden syrup over a gentle heat, stirring until the margarine has melted. Tip in the flour and the oats and stir to combine.

3/ If using any of the optional seeds, stir through at this point. Tip your pan and spread evenly. Bake in the oven for roughly 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden (they will be slightly darker at the edges). Cut them, whilst still in the pan immediately.

24 Responses to “A RECIPE: Mum’s flapjacks”

  1. 1 Caroline March 4, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    I’ve been looking for a flapjack recipe that didn’t render them rock hard once cooled and I’m more than willing to buy margarine to do it. My weekend cooking project is now selected.

    Your chocolate flapjack recipe is to die for! I have to cut it into tiny 1″ square pieces to make it last longer than 2 days. My 8-person office inhaled an entire batch in 3 hours and 2 people never got to eat them.

  2. 2 Caroline March 27, 2009 at 8:34 am

    This is a great recipe! Crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Instead of flaxseeds I added chopped dried cherries and golden raisins. After two batches I’m out of Lyle’s Golden syrup and I’m tempted to substitute King’s Syrup (an interesting corn syrup from the Baltimore area – not like Karo syrup at all) since it’s similar in taste. I wonder if the fact that it’s corn syrup and not sugar cane syrup will make a difference in texture.

  3. 3 Anna Helm March 27, 2009 at 8:39 am

    caroline, let me know how you get on with the King’s syrup- I’d be interested to know! My mum uses an alternate brand to Lyles since it’s so expensive to get out here but I can’t for the life of me remember what it’s called. Pleased you liked the recipe!

  4. 4 Caroline May 11, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    After several batches, I’ve come to the conclusion that Lyle’s is a crucial component. I think it’s because Lyle’s in Cane Syrup and King’s in Corn Syrup. I like the taste of Kings but it doesn’t hold together as well and the flapjack’s crispiness gets soft quickly. There is a product called Steen’s Cane Syrup that’s from Louisiana that looks promising.

  5. 5 Brigitte July 25, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Hi Caroline

    I am from South Africa and have been searching for the perfect flapjack recipe after eating them from Mark & Spencer in London.
    I have not tried your mum’s yet, but it sounds pretty good.

    So, I will let you know very soon how they come out.



  6. 6 Nancy August 26, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    While in Whimbledon last fall we had flapjacks for the first time. They were fabulous and I’ve been searching for a recipe ever since. The only store that sold Golden Syrup near us (Rochester, Minnesota USA) closed. I was wondering if Maple Syrup could be substituted for Golden Syrup? We were in Ireland recently and I found these packaged flapjacks which are not bad… but not as good as the bakery in Whimbledon or homemade. http://www.stablediet.com/products.php?category=3&ct=Flapjacks

  7. 7 Anna Helm August 26, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Hi Nancy, I wouldn’t use maple syrup but you could try honey- obviously the taste will be more of honey than the golden syrup you remember. You can buy various brands of golden syrup now- not just the tate & lyles. I have heard the following mixtures work (but again not quite the same!) 2 parts light corn syrup and 1 part molasses or equal parts of honey and light corn syrup. I would love to know how you get on! What a travesty that you can’t find the golden syrup anymore!

  8. 8 Anna Helm August 28, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Nancy my mother says when she cant find tate & lyles she uses Golden table syrup…you may want to look for that!

  9. 9 measuringspoons September 3, 2009 at 10:06 am

    I lived in London for about 6 months, and flapjacks are one of the things I miss the most. I’ve been home a year now, and I need to make some! I found this:

    [img src=”http://ep.yimg.com/ca/I/yhst-92313653090516_2068_53739345″]

    in my local ShopRite that’s a cross between cane syrup and corn syrup, so I’m going with that. Wish me luck!

  10. 10 Audrey Mango October 2, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    I’m currently living in Louisiana and I’ve just attempted to make flapjacks using local cane syrup. They taste awesome! They are just like I remember flapjacks tasting when I studied in England. Thanks for the recipe!

  11. 11 sharon October 11, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    I have them in the oven.

    I have had my tate & lyle golden syrup in the cupboard in Pennsylvania, waiting for the right moment.

    I was making porridge this morning and thought of flapjacks… so just had to make them…

  12. 12 Miriam October 16, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    I am just about to make these – i’ve searched the web a little bit and your recipe looks great
    I am a Brit living in New Hampshire – and if you’re up in the NE of USA too – you can T&L’s golden syrup in Market Basket for a very reasonable price (and it comes in the squeezy bottle – so easy for measuring)

  13. 13 Steve November 21, 2009 at 1:03 am

    Dear Caroline, LOVED your recipe, but you must adjust that terrible typo error that says ” Up most respect Mum” that word is ‘Utmost’.
    I think your computer ‘spell check’ must have adjusted this phrase incorrectly?
    Great website!

  14. 14 Steve November 21, 2009 at 1:14 am

    OOP’S Sorry that’s Anna NOT Caroline!
    See it’s easy to make mistakes!

  15. 16 Willo February 22, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Does anyone have a recipe for Flapjacks using North American measures – I LOVE them and stock up when I am in UK. I’d love to make my own here in Canada but have no idea how to measure a gram!! Thanks!

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