I find flapjacks almost irresistible and if I visit anyone and they have made some I really have to restrain myself from being greedy. I like them quite soft but not squidgy and greasy, quite chewy but not hard and brittle, not too sweet – the balance of sugar and treacle is quite crucial, not too well done so there’s a caramelised flavour as opposed to a caramelly flavour, and not under done so they are pappy.
I prefer flapjacks to be just the basic recipe; although when I’m making them for other people I might put in dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips or even tiny marshmallows, for myself I just like the plain recipe of butte, oats treacle and sugar – when I say treacle, I mean golden syrup which is what we always called it at home. What others call treacle we always called black treacle… and I haven’t ever used black treacle when making flapjacks… although it sounds an interesting idea.
Flapjacks in Britain are oat cookies, I guess you might call them, baked in a tray and then cut into pieces… but I understand that in the USA, flapjacks are a sort of pancake. What we mean by flapjack they might say muesli bar or cereal bar or oat bar… but to us, they would be subtly different.
The name flapjack, apparently comes from flap/flip, to turn over, and jack meaning a thing/thingy; We cook flapjacks in the oven, we don’t turn them over – but originally they were cooked on a griddle and so would have been flapped or flipped. of course, with American pancake type flap jacks they would still be cooked on a griddle and need to be flip-flapped. There is also what we in Britain would call an apple turnover, a flat pastry parcel with apple in the middle, is also called a flapjack in the Stats.
I’m sure that putting sweet stuff and butter and oats together to make a delicious thing is millennia old, but the first recorded named flapjack was in the 1500’s; in fact Shakespeare uses the word in Pericles:
Come, thou shant go home, and we’ll have flesh for holidays, fish for fasting-days, and moreo’er puddings and flap-jacks, and thou shalt be welcome.
I have to confess I’m not a great flapjack maker – something always seems to go awry so it ends up too greasy/sweet/hard/soft/overdone/underdone… but maybe I’m also just too self-critical.
here is a recipe I haven’t tried… maybe I should:
- 360 g butter
- 180g oats
- 40 g black treacle
- 320 g treacle (golden syrup)
- 100 g sugar
- cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
- add all other ingredients and mix well
- place in a 12″x6″ lined tin, spreading and flattening
- bake at 300°F, 150°C, gas mark 2