I grew up in Canada where a flapjack is used as an alternative name for a pancake. So imagine my surprise, when I was offered a flapjack after moving to England and was presented not with a pancake, but a delicious little oatcake, made with sugar, porridge oats, and golden syrup. A pleasant surprise, and a snack that has become one of my favourite things to accompany my mid-afternoon coffee or tea break, but still not what I would consider a flapjack.
A Brief History of the Flapjack
The Oxford English Dictionary records the word flapjack as being used as early as the beginning of the 17th century, but at this time it seems to have been a flat tart or pan-cake. Shakespeare refers to flapjack in Pericles, Prince of Tyre, but this is one of the many anachronisms in his historical plays and does not suggest that he thought it was a middle eastern dish, merely a common English dessert of the time:
- “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.”
- Act II Scene I
Later, flapjack would be used to describe something similar to an apple flan, but it is not until 1935 that the word is first used to describe a food made of oats. While in the UK this usage has mostly superseded earlier recipes, in North America, “flapjack” still refers to pancakes
This is a variation of a recipe by Celia Brooks Brown which I first appeared on the BBC cooking series Saturday Kitchen. I love this recipe because the flapjacks are the lovely slightly gooey kind that both adults and kids adore. Also this recipe is so easy that it is perfect to get the kids into the kitchen and learning about food and baking.
A bit of warning though, even though this recipe contains oats, it isn’t really that healthy, as there is a lot of sugar in it. Still I suppose they still are a more healthy snack than a chocolate bar…
Preparation time: less than 30 minutes
Baking time: 25-30 minutes.
- 200g/7¼oz unsalted butter
- 200g/7¼oz demerara sugar
- 200g/7¼oz honey
- 400g/14¼oz porridge oats
- Put the butter, sugar and honey in a saucepan and heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Add the oats and mix well.
- Transfer the oat mixture to the prepared cake tin and spread to about 2cm (¾in) thick. Smooth the surface with the back of a spoon.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/350F/Gas 4 for 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden around the edges, but still slightly soft in the middle.
- Let cool in the tin, then turn out and cut into squares.
You can jazz up your flapjacks by adding 50g/1¾oz nuts, dried fruits or glacé ginger, chopped or desiccated coconut to the mix. I personally have omitted it because my children seem to have a fear of dried fruits and nuts that I just cannot get them to shake-off.