Because I recently bought a bottle of Lyle's Golden Syrup to make Ginger Crunch, I looked around for some other recipes where I could put it to use. I went to the product website and was intrigued that there was an entire category of recipes for "flapjacks." I had previously only understood this term to refer to a pancake. Wikipedia helpfully informed me that a flapjack is a "sweet tray-baked oat bar made from rolled oats, butter, brown sugar and golden syrup.... found in the United Kingdom [and] Ireland."
Of the numerous flapjack recipes on the website, I decided to try "Banana and Chocolate Chips Flapjacks." As I read through the recipe, I didn't completely understand it. It was easy enough to convert the oven temperature to Farenheit and the metric pan size to inches (the weights did not require any conversion, because my scale handles both metric and avoirdupois weight). But I didn't understand the measurement "3 rounded tbsp Lyle's Golden Syrup." I don't see how you can have a "rounded" measure of a liquid; with a dry ingredient, I would interpret the term "rounded" to mean "heaping" -- but it is of course impossible to have a liquid heaped over the top of a measuring spoon. I just interpreted this to mean three tablespoons.
A more serious dilemma arose when I tried to figure out what I should use for the "rolled oats (porridge oats)." In an American recipe, I would use old-fashioned oats for any recipe that called for "rolled oats." But I was unfamiliar with the term "porridge oats" and wasn't sure if might actually refer to quick oats. I understand "porridge" to mean cooked oatmeal, and you can make oatmeal from either quick or old-fashioned oats. And quick oats are also made from rolled oats, but they are cut into smaller pieces so they cook faster. Adding to my confusion, other recipes on the Lyle's Golden Syrup website call for "jumbo oats," and I didn't know if that term might refer to old-fashioned oats, or perhaps even steel-cut oats. Despite some dedicated Googling, I was unable to conclusively determine what the heck "porridge oats" means, so I used old-fashioned oats.
The recipe says it only takes ten minutes to prepare and it might have been even quicker than that. You simply heat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until the butter is melted, stir in oats, cool the mixture slightly, and then stir in mashed bananas and chocolate chips (I used mini chips). You press the mixture into a parchment-lined pan and bake until golden.
The bars were soft and crumbly. The texture was odd, like damp oats. It was impossible to eat them without creating a mess from bits and pieces of flapjack falling off. I wasn't sure what the texture was supposed to be, or if I had screwed up the texture by undercooking the flapjacks or using the wrong type of oats. Wikipedia wasn't much help here; the site states that flapjack "textures range from soft and moist to dry and crisp."
While the texture took a bit of getting used to, I appreciated the chewiness of the oats, and the flapjacks grew on me. The bananas were the best part, and I wished I had added a bit more, although the banana flavor was more intense on the second day. And I love bananas with chocolate, so I thought that the overall flavor combination was very good. These were not perfect by any means, but I enjoyed them.
And next time I make flapjacks, I know I will make a few changes. In retrospect, I realize that I should have added some salt, since I used unsalted butter; I'm sure that change alone would have made a significant difference. In addition, I subsequently came across a recipe on epicurious.com for British Flapjacks that is quite similar to the one I made, and it specifically calls for quick-cooking oats. I think that using quick oats will result in a different texture, and likely one that is more manageable. I'm looking forward to my next foray across the pond into the world of flapjacks!
Recipe: "Banana and Chocolate Chips Flapjacks" from Lyle's Golden Syrup.
Previous Post: "From the Land Down Under: Ginger Crunch," January 22, 2013.