Flapjacks are my snack of choice when I go hiking. This is my copycat recipe of Graze Lemon Blueberry Superfood Flapjacks. Only better.
When I’m out of the kitchen…
Last summer I climbed Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales and one of the most famous landmarks in UK. That was certainly an achievement, marred only by a 40-minute queue to the summit made up of idiots waiting to take a selfie at the VERY TOP!
Needless to say I didn’t bother – the achievement was just as satisfying two metres lower down.
A fun fact digression: never, EVER say ‘Mount Snowdon’. The Welsh name is Yr Wyddfa which means ‘grave’ (allegedly of a giant buried underneath the rocks) and ‘Snowdon’ comes from Old English ‘Snow Dun’ – snow mountain. Hence if you say ‘Mount Snowdon’ you will really be saying ‘Mount Snow Mountain’, which makes you sound like a wally.
To all you Alpine, Andes and Appalachian hikers wetting yourself laughing at my pathetic effort of 1085 metres climb, let me remind you I’m pushing sixty and don’t do mountain climbing as a hobby.
Wielding spatulas is my forte, rather than making proper use of those weird telescopic poles you need to adjust every time uphill changes to level to downhill, which also make it impossible to wipe your nose or check the GPS.
Also, it’s worth pointing out that Snowdon’s height is 1,085m but its prominence (elevation of the summit relative to the elevation of the foot of the mountain above the sea level) is 1,038m because of its location practically at the coast, so there’s far more to climb than your other average mountains!
I mean: the Mount Everest base camp is at 6,000m! A piece of cake from there to the top!
Flapjacks in the mountains
Joking aside, I was ecstatically pleased with myself once we reached the (almost) summit. And there, in dense fog and piercing wind, perched on a damp boulder, I had the best meal I’d had in absolute ages: a square of lemon and blueberry flapjack.
It wasn’t homemade; I’m not such a weirdo to bake stuff on holidays, but a reasonably respectable commercially made one, with only a few dodgy ingredients in the list (chicory root fibre, lecithin and xantan gum. You know, just the everyday cupboard staples…).
Obviously, it was so incredibly tasty because anything would be in the circumstances, but the delight made me want to replicate the flapjacks at home. Without the gum or the lecithin.
Which creates a well-known to home flapjack-makers problem: crumbly, falling to bits texture. It is silly easy to make and you can play with flavour or crunchy additions, but try to pick a square and it disperses in your fingers into hundreds of (very tasty) crumbs.
It clearly wants to be granola rather than flapjack.
How to stop flapjacks from falling apart?
There are zillions of tips on how to make flapjacks keep it together. Mine is twofold: first, add something binding to the mix apart from jumbo oats, which I love to use but they don’t tend to stick together.
That something can be plain flour, just a couple of spoonfuls, or finest oatmeal. Of course, flapjacks can be made just from oatmeal not rolled oats, and they will gel better, but I don’t like them as much. It wasn’t what I had on top of Snowdon.
The other tip is pressing it to submission. When the tin is out of the oven, let it stand for five minutes, then press the flapjack down in the tin with a board, tray, or another tin that will fit inside and cover as much of the flapjack surface as possible.
Weighing the board down with pans or tins will press the flapjack down and compact it. Leave it until it’s completely cold before cutting into squares or bars.
How long do flapjacks keep?
There’s nothing particular in them to go off unless you mix in fresh fruit.
If you store them in an airtight container they will keep for up to a month, but I find my stock mysteriously shrinks day after day and gone within a week, usually.
More oats recipes
Let’s start with the basics, shall we? Homemade granola might not be cheaper than shop-bought but it has no ‘flavourings’ (let’s face it: those are E-numbers except for some reason manufacturers are allowed to get away with stating only ‘flavourings’ instead of listing the actual chemicals they put in there) or weird oils you would not store at home.
That was breakfast. For lunch something savoury: oatcakes. Again, the advantages of homemade ones are obvious. And an apple with a couple of oatcakes to finish your lunch with is simply lovely, and healthier than a bag of Maltesers.
And a rival flapjack flavour: orange and ginger. This one has a higher sugar content so cuts better.
More bars and squares recipes
This is a variation on the flapjack theme: oats and dried fruit bars.
Date and nut squares do not make any claim to health whatsoever – they are pure indulgence, and how!
And then there’s raspberry and almond slice on a sponge base: a traybake cut into slices.