Although I love making cakes, I am not a great cake eater, so tend only to do any baking if we have friends coming round. A couple of days ago a group was meeting at home and one of them is coeliac, which means she cannot tolerate gluten; she is actually ill if she has things containing it, even something as seemingly negligible as a flavouring on crisps can make her poorly.

Her requirements give me a good excuse to do some cooking, and over the time I’ve known her I’ve had great success with all sorts of recipes, cakes, scones, biscuits, even a loaf made from peanut butter and eggs! So knowing she was coming round I thought I would make something different, flapjack! made from oats which have no gluten they seemed the perfect thing, and also I am extremely fond of them! I hardly ever make them, because of course apart from all the healthy oats there’s butter, sugar and syrup!

I did just check that oats are gluten-free, and the coeliac web-site it told me ‘Oats contain avenin, which is a protein similar to gluten. However, research has shown that most people with coeliac disease can safely eat avenin…’ Hmmm, well, I didn’t know if my friend is sensitive to avenin… well, I would make the flapjacks anyway, and if she couldn’t eat them, then I’m sure my other friends would!

The next thing was a recipe… Ir’s such a long time since I made any, i couldn’t remember what recipe I used. I found one on the BBC website which seemed quite different from my normal one, in that instead of melting butter, sugar and syrup together, adding oats, pressing into a tin and baking, the ingredients were put in a blender, blended, and then put in the baking tin… Well, that was an interesting way of doing it – I would have a go, but I wouldn’t put all the oats in to be blended, I would keep some on the side to add texture.

I assembled the ingredients… I didn’t have enough oats, and I didn’t have any syrup… so I improvised, and here is my recipe:

  • 150g porridge oats
  • 50 g desiccated coconut
  • 50g sesame seeds
  • 125g butter
  • 125g brown sugar (I just used Demerara but you could use any, or your favourite for a favourite flavour)
  • 2-3 tbsps butterscotch dessert syrup (you could use anything, golden syrup, black treacle for a bonfire night flavour, maple syrup, caramel… anything you fancy!
  • flaked almonds – or any nuts you fancy
  • raisins or dried fruit – I guess I added about 75g, not really sure as I just emptied the packet
  1. mix the oats, coconut and sesame seeds, then put about ¾ in a blender, putting the rest to one side
  2. add the butter (cut into bits – I didn’t and it all clumped into a big lump!) sugar and syrup – the more syrup you use the gooeyer the flapjack!
  3. blend until it’s as smooth as you want then tip out into a bowl
  4. mix in the whole oats, seeds and coconut, and the raisins and almonds by hand, really making sure everything whole is well-distributed in the rest of the blended mixture
  5. press into a well-greased or lined baking tin – I put a butter paper on top of the mixture so I can press it down and get a level surface without it sticking to my hands
  6. bake for about 20 mins at 180°C, gas mark 4, 350°F – do not overcook!!! it’s better to be pale golden brown and a little soggy, than dark brown and very crunchy – I know this!

I can’t share a photo, I didn’t take one – I left the tin in the oven for about 5 minutes too long and it was very dark and very crunchy – but it did taste good! … my friend wasn’t able to try the flapjacks, she is sensitive to avenin after all!

Here is the link to the original recipe:


Here is some information about oats and coelic disease:


My featured image is of oats and a spurtle – a spurtle is a porridge stirrer; I bought one years ago and used it regularly and only recently discovered I was using it upside down!

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