The Perfect Flapjack?

Inspired by Patch’s post where she talks of the problem of flapjacks coming out crumbly or too hard and chewy and remembering that my flapjacks of the past had often been on the hard side, I decided to try and make the perfect flapjack.

Now in my youth, when I was in my convent grammar school, I had ended up studying ‘O’ level Cookery because I wasn’t very good at French and we had had to buy a standard cookery book which contained a recipe for flapjacks which was the one I used.

Here you can see that it has suffered rather from being much used over the intervening years.

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And here is the recipe.

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I always felt that part of the problem with the flapjacks being so hard was that they were cooked for an hour at a low temperature, so I decided to look and see if I had any other recipes that were different in any way.

Another cookery book that I have had for a long time was given to me by a school friend (with an eye to when I was married, I think!) and I use it for certain recipes but not flapjacks.

The recipe in here was as follows.

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I could see that this recipe had relatively more fat and was cooked at a higher temperature for less time so I decided to try it.

Remembering my earlier post about Sultana Oat cookies and the things that made them thick and soft as opposed to thin and crisp, I decided to use what I had learned in reverse and so use margarine instead of butter

Soft margaine no Butter yes

and the broken up sort of oats rather than the more whole looking ones.

Broken oats no Whole oats yesSo having decided what to do I lined a swiss roll tin with a piece of old foil.

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and gathered my ingredients.

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I melted 6oz of margarine, 30z of demerera sugar and 3 tablespoons of golden syrup in a large saucepan

and added

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8oz of oats.

I also picked out a handfull of dried apricots to put in one half of the mixture.

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I spread the two mixtures out in the swiss roll tin (chopped up apricot in the part on the left)

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and put them in the oven to cook.

As my oven is a Fan Oven I chose to cook them at 170deg C for 20 minutes.

After this time the edges were just beginning to colour so I decided that would be enough

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and took them out and marked out sixteen pieces as instructed and left them to cool.

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Now I had made a BIG mistake in thinking that a piece of foil would do instead of greasing the tin (and I should have known better. 😦 )

So I had terrible problems trying to get them out of the tin as the foil had stuck to the tin even more than it had stuck to the flapjacks.

And I was left with a bowl of crumbs and these that seemed worth laying out

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The only thing to do was to sit down and try a couple with a mug of coffee.

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Well! I can report that they are not hard or overly chewy but they are definitely crumbly.

Maybe next time I will stick to my Oat cookie recipe. Perhaps the flour and milk helps them hold together. And by choosing my ingredients, I can make a thicker softer more similar to flapjacks cookie if I want.

Homemade Muesli

“Here is one I prepared earlier!”

Since my granddaughter is here this week, I put this post together last week.

I thought that I would share with you my recipe for Muesli. It is what I have for breakfast on weekdays.

The recipe in its proportions owes something to this book that I bought many years ago.

I bought it not to go on a slimming diet but because I was interested in the charts showing the amount of fibre in different foods as I wanted to increase the amount that I ate.

The book contains a high fibre recipe for breakfast that it says contains 15g fibre and 200 calories.

So I decided to make it for breakfast.

At first I did what they said and weighed out each portion separately but later I decided that this was too much hassle and made it in batches.

Later still when I was less worried about fibre in my diet I decided that I would move away from wheat bran and try a mixture of grains and also a greater variety of dried fruit and nuts.

So the only similarity between the recipe in this book and mine is the proportion of sultanas and the inclusion of almonds.

[My muesli, by my calculation, is about 8g fibre and 260 calories without milk.]

I believe that in the US sultanas are called raisins though in the UK raisins come from a red grape and sultanas come from a white grape. I prefer white grape sultanas to the richer flavoured red grape raisins for this recipe.

I normally make a batch that is a nominal 16 helpings in size but for the ease of photography the recipe below will only make 8 helpings. The plate is the same in all the pictures.

So what do you need?

You mix together

Grains

  • 4oz (110g) oats – I like the larger old fashioned ones.
  • 4oz (110g) rye flakes.
  • 4oz (110g) barley flakes.

Dried Fruit

  • 4oz (110g) sultanas.
  • 2oz (55g) dried apricots. (I used to use 1oz apricots and 1oz prunes but I went off the prunes.)
  • 1oz (25g) dates. (Yes I know half of 55 is 27.5 but at this level you rarely get an exact weight of whole dates or figs and 25 looks neater.)
  • 1oz (25g) dried figs.

I cut up the dates, apricots and figs with a pair of kitchen scissors.

Nuts

  • 1oz (25g) flaked almonds.
  • 1oz (25g) walnut pieces.

Mix them all together and you get your muesli.

I sometimes add to the above a couple of ounces (55g) of ground up linseeds for the added health benefits.

Yes this is a trick picture.

Before and after grinding

Serving

In volume a serving would be around about ½ an UK cup and about 2/3 of a US cup.

I normally serve the muesli with some cold milk but I sometimes add some natural yogurt or use hot water followed by some yogurt in the winter.

And as a special treat (I love them!) and because they are good for you, since they contain selenium that is lacking apparently in European diets, I add 3 or 4 brazil nuts – depending on their size.

Well, I was really busy last week

I haven’t had any time for blogging this week because I have had my granddaughter staying with me.

We have been very busy and apart from everyday things we have:-

Continued with knitting practice.

I am teaching her to knit but it isn’t as easy as it might be because she lives a long way away and so we only have time together every few months. But she is very keen and beginning to grow in confidence.

We also made some origami figures:-

We each made half of the Ninja Star but my granddaughter decided I had to do the final folding.  In the end we made two of different sizes but both times I found working out how to fold in the two pieces to get the final result totally baffling, till I somehow managed to get it right!

We baked some of the sultana oat cookies I posted about:-

We made double quantities of mixture, rolled them and made the balls quite small and placed them well apart on baking trays.

Then we pressed them with a fork

cooked them

and left them to cool on a rack.

All together we ended up with forty five cookies – scrumptious :-).

Then we made a cake for Sunday tea.

Earlier in the week we had also made some rabbit and ‘bush’ shaped jellies out of fruit juice and gelatine using these moulds.

– Much better than the packet sort of jelly!

We went shopping and played in the play park by the new Sainsbury’s.

We visited the cousins – twice!

And played computer games.

But then we had to say goodbye till next time.

One problem after another…………….

Something on crochet next time.

But for now a little culinary aside –

When I was a child my mother had a recipe for Cherry Oat Biscuits and when I had children of my own I took a copy of the recipe.

The first thing I decided was that the cherries (glace cherries) were not the best part of the recipe as when cooked they became hard and tooth threatening so I replace them with soft juicy sultanas which stayed soft and juicy when cooked in this way.

Everything was fine for years and they were one of my children’s favourite cookies: thin and crispy.  The mixture spread so much on the baking trays that however far apart you put the slightly flattened walnut sized balls they always ran into each other.

But years go by, life gets busier, children grow up, and one day I had not made the cookies for years but decided I fancied making some.

But how disappointing – they wouldn’t spread like they used to, several months/years and tries later I decided it must be the soft, improved and excellent for cakes, margarine and decided I would have to make them from butter. Yes, that was the problem!

Then I got a cooker with a fan oven – Great! No need to pre heat – but again they stopped spreading properly. So I added a note to my recipe –

“Only put in oven when it is hot enough”

– This solved the problem.

Then just the other day, when I asked my daughter whether there were any baking goodies I could make to bring her when I next came, she said that she would like some oat cookies.

I keep two sorts of oats: ordinary Quaker oats for cooking and Old Fashioned Scotts Oats for my homemade breakfast muesli.

As I weighed out the Quaker Oats I looked at them and thought – “aren’t they more smashed up looking than oats used to be?” but I went ahead and made the cookies. They spread quite a bit but I had a feeling that they were still a bit thicker than I remembered. Yes and the mixture had not been as ‘fatty’ when I had been rolling them.  They tasted good and crispy but I wasn’t satisfied.

So I set to and made a second batch with the Scotts Old Fashioned Oats – And lo and behold they came out right this time. So I added another note on the recipe card –“Scotts Old Fashioned make thinner biscuits”.

Here are the two cookies: Quaker Oats on the left Scotts on the right – all other ingredients the same.

Should you want to make some – here is the recipe.

It makes about 16 cookies.

In a large bowl mix:

  • 3oz (85g)  plain flour
  • ½ level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2oz (55g) sultanas
  • 3oz (85g) caster sugar
  • 3oz (85g) whole rolled oats

In a small saucepan melt:

  • 4oz (110g) butter
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup
  • 1 tablespoon milk.

Add the melted ingredients to the bowl, mix well and leave to cool.

When cool, roll into walnut sized balls and place well apart on a baking tray.

[There is no need to grease the baking tray and when I say well apart, I really mean it. – I tend to put eight on my baking trays but they do end up touching when they are cooked. Four would probably not touch at all!]

Flatten the balls with a fork.

Preheat the oven to 300 deg F=150 deg C or 140 deg for a Fan Oven.

They take about 15-20 mins in a conventional oven, less in a fan oven but check sooner.

They are ready when the middles are brown rather than cream.

Leave on the baking tray for a couple of minutes before removing with a fish slice or similar; they are fairly fragile.  Leave to cool on a rack.