One day my youngest came back from school having had a school dinner complete with flapjacks that were "much better than yours Mum!", obviously I need to help him to fine tune his blatant honesty, but I wasn't surprised to hear his comment as for years I have tried to perfect my flapjack recipe, but they always ends up tooth-crackingly-crispy, or the complete opposite; a bit soggy and falling to pieces on each bite rather than holding together in a nice bar.
Inspired by a blog post by the wonderfully heartfelt Winwick Mum winwickmum.blogspot.com/ I spent a most pleasurable afternoon playing around with oats! This is what I came up with, and I think in the words of Pygmalion's Professor Higgins "By Jove; I think she's got it!". I devised a basic flapjack that is soft and bar like on the inside AND crispy on the outside. The secret ingredient is the condensed milk. It is NOT healthy in the slightest (!) so as a nod to Winwick Mum, I took half of the made mixture (before baking) and added some healthier ingredients for my husband and I, in the vain hope that the children will be tempted to eat the healthier version! Ha! Who am I kidding?!
100g caster sugar
125g Demerara sugar
2 tbsp. golden syrup
2 tbsp. maple syrup
250g unsalted butter
200g sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
450g rolled oats
1 grated apple
1 tbsp. dried apricots, chopped
1 tbsp dried cranberries (or your choice of dried fruit)
1 tbsp. pumpkin and sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
First melt butter in a large saucepan (it needs to be able to fit in the oats comfortably).
Next add the sugars and syrups and heat gently, stirring all the while, until the sugars have melted.
The next step is to weigh out the oats, and add them to the saucepan with the condensed milk and vanilla extract.
Grease and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper (my tray was 32cm x 18cm)
Take about two thirds of the mixture and press it into half of the baking tray using the back of a spoon.
Now grate the apple and add it to the remaining 1/3 mixture along with the dried fruit and seeds and ground cinnamon.
The reason for dividing the oat mixture 2/3 versus 1/3 is because the fruit and seeds add to the content evening it out. Pack this final mixture into the remaining room in the baking tray, remembering to press down with the back of a spoon.
Bake for 20 minutes at 180 C (or 160 c in my fan oven until starting to turn golden around the edges of the tray.
Immediately mark into bars - I cut mine into 30 littleish bars but you could cut it into any size you desire. Leave to cool in the tray, don't be tempted to take them out of the tray earlier as they tend to crumble. The seeded bars are moister because of the apple content. If you prefer them crisper then bake them in their own tray separate to the normal flapjacks for a further 5 minutes.
Munch and enjoy (ignoring totally the calorie content!). Here is a close up of the two varieties:
My youngest's verdict? "The flapjacks are delicious Mum, ALMOST as good as school's...." Ah well, I tried!