‘All this happened, more or less.’
These the words of Kurt Vonnegut in his Slaughterhouse-Five, which is just a little more gruesome than the past month with getting back into uni life. Yes everybody it has been a month since I have sat down to write to you all. So bonjour to all twelve of you and I hope you will enjoy this blog post! For it will be the only one for the month of February 2016; sorry!
Much has happened since I last sat down with my mug of tea and a new recipe to tantalise you off the healthy eating bandwagon, but I hope that you appreciate this beautifully simple piece of Scottish eating that is fully underestimated compared to it’s brother patriot, the shortbread.
Indeed, I talk of the flapjack which has to be the most sumptuous yet rustic delight to ever come leave the shores of Scotland (apart from James McAvoy). Making this batch of golden crunchy joy, got me thinking about out where and what do we eat from Scotland normally as part of the good ol’ Ulster diet and why do we do so? Being a history student, I could not help but dig around for a bit.
There was very little unfortunately on the origins of the flapjack however I learned that my flapjack is not ‘traditional’ as there is no golden syrup. Yet it is also possible that I am right in my use of honey as a ‘sticking agent’, as until sugar was not cheaply or widely available in the UK (around the mid-Victorian era) and flapjacks have been part of the Scot’s diet of meat, game, smoked fish and oats since the Vikings, I feel perfectly at ease claiming these to be traditional and true to my celtic ancestors.
Food history is fascinating and I have no idea why there are so few studies of it. Maybe it is because we have food in abundance everyday whenever we need or want it. We don’t have to imagine how food has necessarily changed and shaped the world we know today, because, let’s face it, have we ever needed to before? But with the world apparently running out of cocoa (#runtoyouractionstations) and very sensible regulations being fought for regarding sugar (http://www.jamieoliver.com/theplan/) can we say now is a good time for learning about why we have become a sweet toothed nation?
Hold that thought for a moment though; before we save the world from sugar rushes and a cocoa deficiency, let’s sit back and enjoy the simple pleasure that some oats, butter and sugar can do to ease any stressed mind.
So here are my very own Very Easy Flapjacks:
- 200g butter
- 200g oats
- 125g sugar
- 1 tbs honey
- 125ml of orange juice
- Any extra flavourings you want: vanilla, lemon zest, raisins, cinnamon, ginger, even chocolate chips and chilli if you want to be very daring
- Pre-heat oven to 190°C (170° fan) and grease a baking tray (roughly 8″x12″) so that the mix will not stick to the pan’s bottom, thus depriving you of all the yummy-ness
- Weigh out your oats and orange juice, then let that soak up for a few minutes while you work at the hob
- Put a heavy bottomed pan on a medium heat and then place in your butter to melt – do not let it bubble, just keep melting the butter gently otherwise it will burn. Just keep stirring.
- Once the butter is melted, pour in the sugar into the golden liquid and stir them together, rather like a brownie or blondie mix
- Once happy with the mix to scare off the health freak in all of us, tip in the oaty mix and continue stirring on the heat. The mix should have thickened up a bit but if you want it thicker feel free to add some more oats.
- Add the honey in and stir again (this would be a good time for #6 ingredients — your other wee added extras
- Once the comfortingly rustic looking mix has been throughly combined, dollop, pour or scoop out the piping hot goodness onto your pre-lined baking tray, spreading it evenly across and into the four corners for those extra crunchy edge pieces.
- Put into your hot oven for about 20 minutes. If they need more then watch them carefully — you don’t want to burn the bounty!
- When cooked and out of the oven cut the flapjacks into the size you want them — it will be easier to finally cut them when they are cooled this way
- Place them into the fridge for an hour or so for them to become rigid, or simply enjoy them hot out of the oven, slightly crumbly with a scoop of berry yogurt for divine pleasure.
- Best kept in the fridge – they become all lovely and fudgey in the middle like this, perfect for a cup of tea!
There you are folks! The simplest way to make flapjacks and the quickest too. I think for them to be made and cooling in the fridge took about half an hour. They are also great for students as all the ingredients aren’t too expensive and if you’re like me and enjoy sharing your bakes with everyone you can force feed, there’s a large batch ready to be pulled out of the fridge whenever friends pop around for a cuppa.
See you hopefully before the end of next month,
(p.s. Please ignore the slightly bigger slices to the right of the picture above — they’re for my flatmates, Rebecca and Erin, who are brilliantly patient whenever I make a mess in the kitchen!)