About 90% of the time, homemade products are miles better than any shop-bought alternatives. However, there are certain occasions when a product comes along and no matter how hard you try, it’s just seems impossible to replicate anything nearly as good in your own kitchen. In this instance, I am referring to the humble flapjack. When I was a kid, shop bought flapjacks weren’t that nice – they were artificial tasting and looked unappetizing. But then again, homemade ones weren’t that brilliant either – for every stodgy, icky one in a packet, there was an over-cooked, slightly burnt-tasting crumbly flapjack at home.
But in the last decade supermarkets have upped their game. They realised that the great British public has quite discerning tastes when it comes to the humble flapjack and would no longer put up with poor quality products (if only they thought this way about all produce *sigh*), and as a result, we’ve been rewarded with superior flapjacks for many a year now. So what’s the point of making our own, you might think? Well, cost and pride mostly. There is one particular supermarket (who shall not be named, but any flapjack fan out there should know which one I’m talking about) which sells quite possibly the most delicious flapjacks to pass my lips. Unfortunately they’re a bit on the pricey side so I have made it my mission to try and replicate them as best I can in my own kitchen. So what have been the results?
Well, for starters I’ve discovered that nearly every flapjack recipe out there makes crunchy flapjacks. And I don’t want crunchy flapjacks. I want chewy, fudge-like flapjacks. Crunchy flapjacks are difficult to get right. They can so easily result in a crumbly, burnt mess, the sort that used to haunt my childhood. I’m sure there are delicious crunchy flapjacks out there but they’re just not what I’m after right now.
BUT, I soon found out that the key to soft flapjacks is condensed milk. Most traditional recipes consist of butter, sugar and syrup. I thought about substituting some of the syrup for the milk but I decided to just go the whole hog and dispense with the syrup altogether. What I was left with on my first try was something very chewy and tasty but a bit bland. I soon realised I needed a bit of salt in the mix to balance it out. After a few more attempts, I got it the way I wanted it and here’s how – melt 125g each of unsalted butter and brown sugar in a pan then add half a tin of condensed milk. Put in 250g of oats (or as much as you desire) and then bake on a medium heat (about 160 degrees centigrade for 15 minutes).
What I was left with wasn’t exactly the same as certain supermarket brand but to be honest, I never really thought they would be. My flapjacks are chewier and thinner and all the better for it. So homemade wins again! (although I’m sure this won’t stop me making the occasional flapjack supermarket purchase in the future).