I was recently asked on Twitter if I had a good flapjack recipe. I immediately thought of these fruity flapjacks made by Smitten Kitchen. They're listed as granola bars on Deb's site but are really more of an upgraded flapjack because American's don't have flapjacks (or downgraded, depending on your views on dried fruit and flapjack purity). I would always prefer this version over a regular flapjack, which I like, but generally find too sweet and a wee bit plain. I decided to make two versions of flapjacks though - just to be 100 per cent sure I wasn't missing out on anything and to see whether the simple pleasure of a plain flapjack could compare. I had a look online and made Felicity Cloake's flapjacks from her How to Cook the Perfect... series. This is a defiantly traditional flapjack, with the only real point of note is that two types of oats are used - jumbo rolled (usually the pricey kind) and quick-cook (usually the cheapest kind). The quick cook oats are a thin lot but make the bars stick together well. Instead of buying two different types of oats though, you can quickly pulse some through a food processor for the same effect. These were a doddle to make and very tasty, but I really couldn't stop eating the fruity ones and can now definitely say that these are my favourite flapjacks to eat. The additional fruit and nuts add a bit of flavour variety and texture and means you can also decrease the amount of sugar added as well. I just used pretty much what I had in the kitchen; my favourite inclusions are coconut, sunflower seeds and dried apricots. You can pretty much add anything you want - rice krispies, sultanas, dried cherries, pecans, chocolate chips... whatever you like! Other non-traditional ingredients are some peanut butter or tahini, which help the mix to stick together more, and some corn syup - a very American inclusion, but one that helps to 'set' the mix (however is not essential, just helpful). It's a wee bit more work than your traditional flapjacks but definitely worth the effort. Don't worry about the mix being too liquidy, just make sure that you let the flapjacks cool completely if they need to be cut up and not crumble. You can speed this up by popping them in the fridge or freezer after about 20 minutes. Another note - these also freeze really well if you're able to stop eating them straight out the oven! Just cut into slice and pop into a freezer proof box or wrap in cling film.
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
170g porridge or jumbo oats plus 30g of quick-cook or processed oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
2 cups mix of dried fruits and nuts (total of around 285g - I used a mix of dessicated coconut, sunflower seeds, pistachios, walnuts, dried apricots, dried 'cherries and berries' mix and rum soaked sultanas)
75g peanut butter or tahini
85g melted butter
60mL honey or golden syrup
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (optional, if available)
1 tablespoon water
1. Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray. Note: You will need something slightly bigger than a brownie pan, I used a roasting tin.
2.Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, golden syrup, corn syrup (if using) and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter/tahini, if you’re using it) until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of cling film can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)
3. Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little colour on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the centre of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.
4. Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.)
5. Once cool, use a knife to cut the bars into squares. If bars seem crumbly, chill the pan of them further in the fridge for 30 minutes which will fully set the “glue”, then cut them cold. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator.