I have a confession to make: until this week, I had only made flapjacks once before, and when I did, I thought I’d mucked them up. I know, I know, this is baking sacrilege. I’d eaten my fair share of them, of course, but had barely turned my hand or spatula to them. I recognise the I’m the exception here: flapjack making is formative, one of the first things you ever bake as a child. Mixing the golden syrup into the melted butter, squidging in the oats, smooshing with a spoon, and being strictly instructed not to touch them until cool. Flapjack making is, well, child’s play. But they passed me by.
So, when I attempted them early on in my baking days, I unknowingly erred on the crunchy side of the flapjack debate, despite being a soft and crumbly girl at heart. You see, the thing is, as easy as is it is to make, the final product is a matter of personal preference. Opinions are divided on what is the correct flapjack texture: should it be sticky, crumbly and buttery, or chewy and crispy. The answer’s an easy one: whichever makes you happy is the right one. That first time I made them, I hadn’t got flapjacks wrong, I’d just got them wrong for me. And know I know that happily, you can achieve either version using the same ingredients and the same temperature, you just need to add an extra 5-10 minutes for the crunchy version. It’s as simple as that.
To call them a ‘cereal bar’ is technically correct, but wrong in spirit. Even before any accoutrements are added to it, a flapjack is laden with butter and sugar and golden syrup. It is not helped into the health food category by the presence of oats.
This recipe uses a traditional golden syrup and light brown sugar mixture with melted butter, but studs it with crystallised ginger, chopped into tiny pieces, and uses bittersweet seville orange marmalade stirred through before finally being drizzled with orange flavoured dark chocolate. It’s a joy: chewy and moist, lightly spiced and gently citrussy, with the dark chocolate and marmalade taking the edge off the flapjack’s inherent sweetness. It goes like this…
Orange, chocolate and ginger flapjacks
Makes: 9 large flapjacks or 16 slightly more modest flapjacks
Takes: 10 minutes plus cooling
Bakes: 25-35 minutes
100g light brown sugar
5 tablespoons golden syrup
30g crystallised ginger, diced finely
3 tablespoons seville orange marmalade
300g quick cook oats
100g jumbo oats
30g orange flavoured dark chocolate
1. Line a 23cm square tin with a strip of baking parchment that overhangs the tin. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
2. Melt the butter and stir through the sugar, golden syrup, marmalade, ginger, and both types of oats. Spoon into the tin and press down so that the mixture is as compacted as possible.
3. Cook for 25 minutes for soft, tender flapjacks, and 30 minutes for crisper, chewy flapjacks, then remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
4. When completely cool, melt the chocolate in a bain marie. Do this by half filling a small saucepan with water and heating until it reaches a simmer. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, and balance this bowl on the saucepan until the chocolate melts. Using a spoon, dollop and drizzle the melted chocolate onto the cooled flapjack, letting the chocolate flick and puddle, making sure you cover the whole flapjack with a little chocolate.
5. Allow to cool completely and then cut into 9-16 squares depending on how large you want them.