Any Great British Baking Show fan knows that if you order flapjacks in the UK, you won’t be served a stack of warm pancakes. Instead, you’ll receive a sweet and buttery oat bar. Flapjacks are similar to American granola bars… if a granola bar was unmistakably a dessert. To make British flapjacks, oats are coated in a mixture of melted butter, brown sugar, and golden syrup, then baked into crispy-edged, chewy bars.
If you’ve never heard of golden syrup or light treacle before, you’ll look for ways to use it after trying these bars. Golden syrup is a byproduct of refining sugar, similar to how molasses is made. It’s not as dark and robust; it’s more like the color and consistency of honey. It has a distinctively sweet, buttery caramel flavor beloved in the UK.
The Right Kind of Oats for Flapjacks
Use quick-cook rolled oats, not instant oats and not old-fashioned rolled oats. Instant oats will make the flapjacks too dense, and rolled oats will fall apart. Quick-cook rolled oats are the Goldilocks oats for this bake.
I like 365 (Whole Foods brand) Quick Oats Rolled Oats, Bob’s Red Mill Quick Cooking Rolled Oats, and Quaker Quick Oats.
Mix Up the Mix-Ins
I used my favorite mix of seeds and dried fruit: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries. But you should make flapjacks with your own favorites:
- Try sesame seeds, hemp seeds, chopped nuts, chopped dried apricots, dried cherries, raisins, chopped dates, or even chocolate chips.
- Skip the mix-ins altogether. If you’d prefer to make a more traditional flapjack recipe, skip the mixed seeds and dried fruit and replace with an equal amount of additional oats.
- If you have difficulty finding golden syrup or you just want a different flavor, substitute with the same amount of honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar.
Tips for Making the Best Flapjacks
One bowl, one saucepan, one spatula, and less than an hour are all you need for these easy oat bars. But I still have some tips for the best flapjacks and the cleanest slices.
- Melt the butter over low heat and cook only until melted. Avoid boiling the mixture. If it’s left to cook, it will affect the texture of the final flapjacks or worse, scorch.
- While you can slice flapjacks when they’re still warm, if you wait for them to cool and use a long, serrated bread knife you’ll achieve the cleanest slices.
- Can’t get enough? Double the recipe and bake it in a 9×13-inch pan for 30 to 35 minutes.
How to Serve Flapjacks
Flapjacks are typically served as a sweet treat alongside a cup of coffee or tea in place of cake or cookies. That means you can enjoy them as a sweet breakfast or an afternoon coffee break (my favorite). They are also very portable and make a great snack for on the go. You can easily make them allergen-free for a school-friendly lunchbox treat.
How to Store Flapjacks
Flapjacks will keep for up to 1 week stored in an airtight container on the counter. They can also be frozen, individually wrapped or all together, in a freezer bag. They will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer. Defrost the flapjacks in the refrigerator overnight.
More British Treats
- Yorkshire Pudding
- English Scones
- Banoffee Cheesecake
- English Toad in the Hole
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line the bottom and two sides of an 8×8-inch square pan with parchment paper. Lightly grease the pan and parchment paper.
Combine the dry ingredients:
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the oats, seeds, dried fruit, salt, and cinnamon.
Combine the wet ingredients:
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter, brown sugar, and golden syrup over low heat until the butter melts. Stir the syrup mixture with a whisk or a silicone spatula until the brown sugar dissolves and the mixture comes together, about 30 seconds.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients:
Pour the butter mixture over the oats. Use a silicone spatula to stir everything together, mixing well to coat all the dry ingredients in the syrup.
Spread the oat mixture in an even layer in the prepared pan. Compact the oats bars by pressing down the top with a spatula or the bottom of a glass.
Bake the flapjacks until they turn golden brown around the edges and lightly golden in the middle, 25 to 30 minutes.
Cool and slice:
For the cleanest slices, let the flapjacks cool completely, at least 1 to 2 hours, before using the parchment paper to lift them out of the pan. Use a serrated bread knife to slice 9 large or 16 small flapjacks.
Store flapjacks in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
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