When I lived in London I used to buy a flapjack at Holland & Barret almost every day on my lunch break. They were only a pound or so, and there were so many different kinds to choose from that I never got tierd of it. After moving back to Sweden I forgot about them for some years, but recently they have been on my mind again. A flapjack is such a great snack! Crunchy and still soft, with that great oat flavour and the additional spices, chocolate or dried fruit to give it a bit more excitement. They might not be so healthy as we want to think, but they can easily be made with less sugar or with more natural sweeteners if one prefer. And it is really easy to make it vegan or gluten free, just use vegan butter and oats that are free of gluten.
For this Christmas season I have been experimenting with some traditional Swedish christmas flavours in my flapjacks. I made one that taste of “glögg” (mulled wine) and are planning a saffron one. But I think the one I like best so far is the gingerbread version, with some added pumpkin. The pumpkin gives it some floral and fruity flavours, that mixes up nicely with the warmth of spices like ginger, cinnamon and clove.
Gingerbread and pumpkin flapjack
50 grams butter
3 decilitre rolled oats
½ decilitre golden syrup
1 decilitre pumkin pure (the meat of about ¼ small pumpkin, boiled and mashed)
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
1 pinch of ground black pepper
(1 tsp black treacle or molasses)
Heat the oven to 200 C.
Melt the butter and let it brown a bit, until it smells slightly nutty. Let it cool for a moment.
Mix oats, syrup, pumpkin pure and spices. Add the butter and mix well until a sticky dough is formed.
Press the dough in to a tray in a 1 cm thick layer. Packing it tightly helps keeping the dough together during the baking.
Bake for 10- 15 minutes, until the surface feels crispy and has turned golden.
Let cool and cut into squares. Spread melted chocolate or any other preferred topping on the surface.
It feels as if flapjacks are the everyday snack for the brits. Not anything fancy, but still much loved. Not many contestants in the GBBO has been trying to impress Paul and Mary with flapjacks for example, although I was happy to see Howard have a go at it this season.
Trying to research the origin of the flapjack didn’t give me much, and no clues about where the name comes from. It seems to originate all the way back to the 17th century, but then it meant a flat tart or even pancake and is believed to come from the Middle East. Shakespeare speaks of flapjacks in his play Pericles, Prince of Tyre:
“Come, thou shant go home, and we’ll have flesh for holidays, fish for fasting-days, and moreo’er puddings and flap-jacks, and thou shalt be welcome.”
I wonder if he preferred them with yoghurt or chocolate at the top?
1935 was the first time that the word flapjack meant a cake made out of oats (thank you Wikipedia).
If anyone has more information about the history of flapjacks please share it!
With this recipe I will for the first time take part of the Cooking with herbs blogchallenge at Lavender and Lovage, who this month has added christmas spices to the ingredient list.