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These flapjacks are oat bars just like the ones found in the UK! While flapjack typically means pancake in the U.S., this authentic British recipe uses oats, butter, golden syrup and sugar. They’re so tasty with just a slight crunch to them!
What’s not to like about a flapjack? This satisfying, uncomplicated treat is full of wholesome flavor. Plus, they are gluten-free and easy to make vegan as well.
You can enjoy one for breakfast or simply a snack on-the-go. You can also customize the texture to be more chewy or crunchy as you like!
There are only four ingredients: quick oats, butter, sugar and golden syrup. Let’s get started!
What is a Flapjack?
A flapjack is a baked oat bar that’s long been part of British culture. In fact, Shakespeare mentioned flapjacks in a play in the early 1600s! A mixture of oats, butter, sugar and golden syrup is baked in a large flat rectangle and cut into pieces for serving.
While this treat is widely available in UK bakeries and shops, it’s also easy to make at home. While flapjacks bears a faint resemblance to granola bars or dessert squares, this treat is truly unique.
What’s the Difference Between a Flapjack and Pancake?
In America, flapjacks are another name for pancakes especially in the South. These pancakes are the thin, flat cakes made by frying batter in a skillet. “Flap” is a play on words for the way you need to “flip” a pancake in the pan during cooking.
In contrast, the British flapjack is an oat bar baked in the oven. It actually has nothing in common with a pancake other than the confusing name!
Ingredients You’ll Need
Here’s what you’ll need to make them:
- Quick Oats: You will need quick cooking rolled oats, meaning porridge oats that cook in a minute or two. Do not use old-fashioned or steel cut oats because they will be too hard. Similarly, avoid instant oats, which will fall apart.
- Butter: You can use salted or unsalted butter depending on what you have on hand. For unsalted butter, you may wish to add a pinch of salt. To make it vegan, use a plant-based butter instead.
- Demerara Sugar: This is a coarse-grained raw sugar available in specialty shops or online. It’s not as chunky as the raw sugar you might find at a coffee shop, but it’s not fine like granulated sugar either. Turbinado sugar is the closest substitute.
- Golden Syrup: Also known as light treacle, this sugary syrup has a buttery caramel flavor. A common brand is Lyle’s in a green tin, available in specialty grocers or online.
How to Make Flapjacks
Preparation is quite straightforward. Start by putting the oats into a large mixing bowl. Then place a small saucepan over medium-low heat, adding the butter, sugar, golden syrup and salt, if using:
Let the butter melt and start mixing with a wooden spoon until incorporated, about 1-2 minutes. Note: it’s normal for the sugar to not be completely dissolved in order to produce a slight crunch in the flapjacks.
Now pour the butter mixture over the oats and stir until evenly coated. Turn the oat mixture onto a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Spread it out to the edges of the sheet and use an offset spatula or pie server to pack it down to roughly a 3/4-inch thickness (this step is important to prevent breakage later on).
Bake at 325°F until golden brown, about 25 to 35 minutes. For a chewier flapjack, bake for the shorter end of the range, whereas for a crispier flapjack, bake for the full 35 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for about 5 minutes. The trick here is not to wait too long or they’ll become brittle and break apart. However, if you cut while too hot they’ll be sticky and also fall apart (think Rice Krispie squares).
The ideal tool to cut them is a pastry scraper, which can apply even downward pressure. Failing that, you can use a sharp chef’s knife to similar effect. Cut the flapjack into rectangles or triangles and remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Tips & Tricks
- Use quick-cooking rolled oats for this recipe: You’ll want to use quick cooking rolled oats for best results.Old-fashioned or instant oats won’t work for this recipe. Instant oats cook too quickly and old-fashioned don’t have the best texture when baked.
- Make your flapjacks thicker for a chewy texture: These oat bars can be crunchy or chewy depending on how you like them. For a chewy texture, make sure your flapjacks are 3/4 to 1-inch thick. Make them less than 3/4-inch thick to be crunchy.
- Let your flapjacks cool slightly before cutting: It’s best to let flapjacks cool slightly in the pan so they can firm up before slicing into smaller squares.
- Use golden syrup: It’s tempting to swap in corn syrup, maple syrup or another product. However, golden syrup produces the characteristic flavor for flapjacks while binding the oats together. If you really can’t find any, then simply make your own!
Frequently Asked Questions
Flapjacks can be chewy or crunchy depending on how you make them. Thicker flapjacks have a chewy, gooey texture while thinner flapjacks are on the crunchier side. Try making both kinds to see which one you like best.
Flapjacks are mostly oats, which are considered healthy. However, their sugar and butter content makes them more of an indulgence. At the same time, they contain less than many cookies or dessert bars, so have a slight advantage in relative terms.
If the flapjacks are greasy, then you added too much butter. There should be approximately one tablespoon of butter per cup of oats.
There are three tips to prevent breakage: 1) pack the mixture down firmly in the baking sheet using an offset spatula; 2) cut them about 5 minutes out of the oven when they’re neither sticky nor hardened; and 3) try baking for 5 minutes less time so they’re less brittle.
Flapjacks are a traditional British snack available in bakeries and pastry shops all over the UK. Stateside, you’ll need to seek out a British bakery offering them or make your own at home, as they’re even difficult to find online!
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British Flapjack Recipe
- Preheat the oven to 325°F, placing the oven rack in the middle position. Line a small rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Place a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter, sugar, golden syrup and salt (if butter is unsalted). Once the butter is melted and sugar partially dissolved, pour over the oats. Stir with a wooden spoon until coated completely.
- Place the oats in large mixing bowl and set aside. Turn the oat mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Shape into a rectangle of about ¾-inch thickness. Pack down with a pie server or rigid spatula.
- Bake until golden brown on top, about for 25 to 35 minutes. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes for softer flapjacks, and for 30 to 35 minutes for crisper flapjacks.
- Remove from the oven and cool in the pan just long enough to firm up somewhat, about 5 minutes.
- Using a pastry scraper or sharp chef's knife, cut the flapjack into 10 to 12 rectangles (or triangles if you prefer). Using a rigid spatula, carefully lift each one to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Quick Oats: These are plain, unflavored oats that cook in about one minute. Old fashioned or steel-cut oats will be too tough, while instant oats won’t hold together properly.
- Demerara Sugar: This is a coarse-grained raw sugar available at specialty grocers or online, and it gives a slight crunch to the flapjack. The closest substitute is turbinado sugar.
- Golden Syrup: You can find this in specialty grocers or online with Lyle’s being a common brand. Make your own by bringing 1 1/3 cups cold water and 4 cups granulated sugar to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice and reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered without stirring until it starts turning a golden color, about 45 to 60 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before slowly pouring into a glass jar. Never touch the syrup while hot as it can cause burns.
- Storage: A flapjack will last up to 3 days at room temperature or up to 3 months in the freezer when stored in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag.
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