In a family of six children, these flapjacks rarely made it as far as a storage box

The Irish Times: We Love Food – Genevieve Carbery, reporter


In the days before fun-size Mars bars and Crunchies there were flapjacks and snickerdoodles. As a countryside child of the 1980s the nearest shop was miles away but the basic ingredients for these simple treats were always in my kitchen cupboard.

The pages of the Ladybird We Can Cook children’s recipe book were partially stuck together with golden syrup at the flapjack page, so popular was the recipe and so messy were the young chefs.

After graduating from being master tin-greaser, I learned the importance of weighing each ingredient precisely on an old-fashioned balance scales using metal weights embossed with lb and oz.

The four simple ingredients, melted butter heated in a saucepan with sugar and golden syrup and stirred with a wooden into the porridge oats, were all it took to produce the chewy chunks of crunchy buttery sweetness .

The best bit of the whole process? Eating those bits of sugar-coated oats left over in the big white mixing bowl after putting the tray into the oven.

After 20 minutes the golden tray would emerge from the oven and I’d cut them into rectangles with a knife. It was a teasing 30 minutes before they had cooled and hardened enough to eat. In a family of six children, they rarely even made it as far a storage box.

Nowadays I like to try my hand at more complex recipes, like chocolate tort, baked raspberry cheesecake or pecan tart. But these three things have stuck with me from my childhood baking:

1. Anyone can bake as long as they stick to the recipe(you could even say it’s child’s play). Unlike savoury cooking, baking has more in common with chemistry than artistry.

2. You can “whip” something up from your store-cupboard ingredients in the time it takes to drive to the supermarket – and the reaction from your guests is so much better

3. There are very few things in the modern world we get to create from beginning to end. This is one of them. Baking brings me back to a simpler time in my life as I get the satisfaction of taking something from scratch to scrumptious.

Flapjack recipe
85g (3oz) margarine
85g (3oz) sugar
85g (3oz) golden syrup
170g (6oz) oats

Melt the margarine, sugar and syrup in the saucepan until smooth. Stir into the oats and mix with a wooden spoon in a bowl. Grease a tray. Flatten oat mixture into the tin. Bake at 160 degrees (Gas 3) for 20-25 minutes. When cooked, cut into squares with a knife and leave to cool.

Variations can include adding sultanas or cinnamon.

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