Thursday, March 31, 2011

Flapjack Wars

Chewy or crunchy? This is a serious subject for debate-you wouldn't believe how fanatical people can get over oats baked in a ton of butter and sugar. Mine are somewhere in the middle-a bit of chew, but thin enough to require some work.

The beauty of flapjack is how durable it is-so durable in fact you need to cut it still warm in the pan or it will be impossible to get a knife through it. With a very busy weekend on the go, I figured the best carry-along treat to coax a tired child into another hour of searching the stacks of used books at the library sale would be flapjack. Amazing how tons of fat and sugar can bring a grumpy six year old around. Can't wait for his middle-aged complaining about how all we did as a family was go to used book sales, and how his mother would force feed him refined sugar to keep up stamina. I was forced into many a dull weekend with my parents, but no one was loading me up with sugar-it might have been more tolerable.

Fine, fine, I decided to bake flapjack. But which kind? Danny seemed so indifferent to it the last time I baked. A while back, I spotted THIS recipe and though, "Christ on a bike, that's a shitload of butter!" But my subsequent thought was, "I should try it." So I did. Let's call it Flapjack Number One.

Flapjack Number One (or, FNO because I'm the sort of person that would call it, "FNO") was thicker, extremely moist (well geez, it has a ton of butter in it-it ought to be) and used both whole oats and quick cooking. I thought it was interesting to use both, and I rather liked it, but it does tend to crumble more than flapjack made entirely of quick cooking oats. No matter, this is still quite good, but a bit too soft for my tastes. I did bake it longer than the recipe called for, and perhaps my oven is a bit off, or the oats I used absorbed differently. A few more minutes wouldn't have hurt. Still, fear not as I doubt very much it will go to waste.

Flapjack Number Two (FNT-because you need me to point that out in the event you hadn't already caught on from the previous paragraph) is thinner, made entirely of quick oats, and holds together better. It is firmer, crunchier, and the ratio of brown sugar/golden syrup seems to work better. The recipe I'm posting is for a small batch (because I already had a ton from FNO) but it doubles easily enough.

So which is it then? I really don't know. Danny clearly preferred FNT, but he's young and has good teeth. If I were young, and in possession of good teeth, I think I'd prefer it as well, but the softer FNO has qualities I can appreciate in my declining years. I still think it is an ungodly amount of butter, but you could certainly eat worse things.

Here's the recipe for mine:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter an 8x8 square pan (or go larger if you prefer it thinner).

In a saucepan, melt 1/2 cup unsalted butter ( don't be like my mother, and substitute margarine-it won't make it any better for you)

1/2 cup brown sugar (I make my own with granulated sugar and molasses which gives it a richer taste)

1/4 cup Golden Syrup (don't you dare substitute with rice syrup)

A generous pinch of salt

2 1/3 cups quick oats

Heat the butter, brown sugar, syrup and salt in a pan until it melts. Pour over the oats and mix well. Pat into prepared pan, bake 20-30 minutes depending on how chewy/crunchy you like it, and cool a few minutes in the pan, on a rack. With a sharp knife, cut into squares. Let cool completely in the pan. I store mine in a tin with sheets of wax paper between the layers.

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