Unfortunately, all too often things in the kitchen don’t quite go as planned. It doesn’t take much to take your eye off something for a few minutes, during which time it’s burnt; to break egg yolks when you’re trying to separate them from the whites or to misread the scales/measuring jug and put way too much/little of something into a recipe, which you might not notice until you come to eat it.
I have taken steps to try to prevent the egg disaster from happening though; I now break the eggs into a small bowl before transferring the yolk-free whites into the main mixing bowl, so that if the yolk breaks I don’t end up contaminating another 2/3/4/5/6 egg whites (believe me this was a slow learning curve). Unfortunately though, there are some things that you can’t really avoid unless you apply Mad-Eye Moody’s philosophy of CONSTANT VIGILANCE, and even then you might still make mistakes. I therefore figured that there was something to be gained from sharing my culinary disasters in the hope that I can pass on the benefit of my experience, and hope that you don’t make the same mistakes as I do!
I guess this particular flapjack disaster was more of a lack of rational thought than of neglect or lack of dexterity. I wanted to make a sweet treat for my colleague on his last day before he leaves for his new job, but as I knew he was cycling to work I thought he probably wouldn’t appreciate a cake full of fat and sugar when it came to cycling the 13 or so miles home. So I thought I’d make flapjacks, as oats are pretty energy-tastic. As it was for a special occasion (i.e. not for me to eat the full batch by myself) I thought I would use my “posh oats”; that is to say the whole rolled oats which I bought for my muesli making. Whilst I was making the flapjacks, which I rammed full of flaked almonds and dried cranberries, the oats looked so lovely and glossy when I coated them in the melted butter and syrup. However, when I took them out the oven I thought they felt quite soft still, but as they were nicely golden on top I didn’t want to leave them in the oven any longer. I let them cool and tried to cut them in the morning, but when I did they just crumbled into bits in the tin. I was so gutted; I bought them into work anyway as some bits remained in reasonable-sized chunks but the bulk just crumbled into a fine rubble (much more like granola, actually!). They might have ended up as little bits but they’re some very tasty little bits!
They didn’t cohere properly because the oats are too large – they don’t form such a strong cement as the quick-cook oats I usually use. In the past I’ve made these exact same flapjacks with total success when made with the quick-cook oats. That’ll teach me to try and show off! If I’d have blitzed these in the processor for a few seconds before using them they would have turned out perfectly.
The recipe is really straightforward and, as you might imagine, takes about 5 minutes to make. Here is the recipe, from Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess:
Cranberry and almond flapjacks
Makes around 18 bars
450g quick-cook rolled oats (i.e. not readybrek!)
150g golden syrup
75g light soft brown sugar (although I didn’t have enough so I used about 45g light brown and 30g dark brown soft sugar)
A few handfuls dried cranberries
A few handfuls of flaked almonds
Preheat the oven to 190C. Weigh out the butter and golden syrup and melt gently over a low heat.
Whilst the butter and golden syrup are melting, mix together the oats, sugar, cranberries and almonds in a large bowl.
Once melted, pour the butter and golden syrup over the oat mixture and mix everything together really thoroughly. Everything should be glossy.
Press the mixture into a greased (and lined if you want to) tin around 25cm square (it depends how thick/thin/crumbly/sticky you like your flapjacks) until it’s all level, and bake in the oven for around 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
Leave it to cool in the tin and then cut into bars. They’re delicious! (When they turn out right…..)