Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - Adapting an apple flapjack recipe

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11-06-2011, 04:39 PM
I need emergency nosh as I'm going to be staying two nights at a hotel in a small town in Scotland at the end of the week for a wedding, and I don't know how much they may mess up the vegan/low-fat diet thing. Here's the recipe in question, which I haven't made for years but which I remember being a good solid favourite.

Apple flapjacks

6oz/175g porridge oats
2oz/50g margarine
2oz/50g sultanas, chopped
1oz/25g demerara sugar
2 rounded tbsp golden syrup
8oz/225g cooking apple, peeled, cored and grated [about 1 apple]
oz/15g stem ginger, finely chopped [about 1 piece]
[optionl: add a touch of spice, cinnamon for instance]

1. Heat the margarine, sugar and golden syrup gently in a saucepan until melted.
2. Remove from the heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients.
3. Mix thoroughly and spoon the mixture into a lined and greased 7”/18cm square flan tin. Press down firmly and evenly with the back of a spoon.
4. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for about 30-35 min until golden.
5. Leave in the tin for 15 min, then cut into bars [she suggests 8, I think I make at least 12] and put them onto a wire rack to cool completely.

From Vegan Baking by Linda Majzlik

The fat content is already pretty low, judging by the recipes I've been seeing online. Any suggestions for how to reduce the sugar content? I was thinking of using ready-to-eat dates, possibly chopped and boiled up, and taking out the sultanas and stem ginger.

If you're going to suggest new ingredients, please bear in mind that I am in the UK and vegan. I don't use artificial sweeteners such as Splenda, but I do have agave syrup and the like.

Lastly, does anyone have tips on how to store the leftovers? Some people freeze flapjacks, it seems, though I don't know how well it would work with the moister, fruit-based ones, especially when cut into much smaller pieces. Thawing them in the toaster seems popular but I'm dubious as to how well it would work.

11-07-2011, 05:51 AM
Oh yes, and I was thinking of replacing some of the oats with quinoa flakes, but again I'm not sure whether that'd work well.

11-09-2011, 01:40 PM
So THESE are what flapjacks are in the UK? I had a really weird conversation with a British grad student a few years ago about how she missed her favorite snack, "flapjacks", and the bakery where they were sold. In the US flapjacks is another word, a bit old-fashioned now, for pancakes. (Which for us are soft flour cakes made with a baking-powder batter. Don't know what those are in the UK. Possibly that mysterious and horrifying "toad in the hole" artifact I remember from the Diary of Adrian Mole.) I couldn't understand why you would want to get pancakes from a bakery counter, because they lose a lot of their appeal soon after they're cooked!

This sounds more like a granola bar, or at any rate falls into the US "bars" category. Does it end up sticky and soft, or hard? I'm trying to imagine how it turns out. And the porridge oats, are they the flat rolled oats or the pinhead oats? Do they actually go bad with all that sugar in them? Seems like they would keep a few days in a tightly closed tin.

The quinoa flakes would substitute fine, or any of the other grain/fruit elements. It's the binder which is the problem; it seems rather sweet with the golden syrup and sugar, but you need some to hold it together. You could keep in the raisins (or other dried fruit, maybe a lower sugar one like apricots) and boil part of that, and leave out the sugar and maybe part of the golden syrup. I don't think you could take all of the syrup out without changing the consistency, unless you're OK with that. Taking the golden syrup out will make it drier and looser, like granola cereal. The only other thing I can think of to bind it together is chocolate. Or US type marshmallows melted in, which are sugary also and highly artificial. (But vegan I believe!)

Dates have the advantage of being relatively high fiber, if you could find a sticky type they will hold it together.

If I were baking up something sweet to sustain me I would probably choose something whole-wheat flour based with nuts added for protein as well as dried fruit, without that these ingredients sound like they would make me ravenously hungry soon after, and I am pretty high-carb adapted. More like a US style oatmeal cookie, with the apple pureed as a substitute for part of the margarine and ... whatever vegans would put in to substitute for the egg. Flax meal? Or something like these bars from Martha Rose Shulman which also have the eggs issue, but vegan bakers must have a way around that now: Coconut sesame granola bars (

I avoid baking sweet things these days though, as they are one of the things that leads to temptation for me, so I would probably choose savory, possibly sesame based, or something dry and sturdy like biscotti. Traditional biscotti recipes do not use an egg, so they are vegan, and then you can stuff them with either fruit-nut-spice elements or savory elements.

I will look into some vegan bar recipes, I have some links tucked away somewhere for future reference but will have to dig for them.

11-09-2011, 02:13 PM
Here is a recipe from Vegan Paul I first saw on the Freshloaf site, which has very similar ingredients but is more biscuit-like (it is baking powder raised). Binds with juice + a bit of whole wheat flour instead of syrup, no egg or dairy, or even added oil. Not like your flapjacks but does sound very interesting. Healthy Fruit and Oat Bar (

11-09-2011, 03:21 PM
Traditional flapjacks don't have the apple and are quite crunchy, but there are softer versions about. And I had no idea that it meant pancake in American! No wonder I was staring in confusion at a page about flapjacks which showed a pile of pancakes.

I made them yesterday. We skipped the sugar and the sultanas, and used 2oz dates instead. The dates were chopped and then simmered with half a cup of water before adding the syrup (I used a healthier version) and margarine. We did try cutting the margarine a bit to start with, but it was already fairly low for this sort of recipe, and we ended up adding the rest in later to help the consistency. The flapjacks were all individually wrapped and frozen, so I haven't tried one yet, but judging from the bits that fell out as we were cutting them up, they'll be nice. It's higher in sugar than I usually go for, but they are very small pieces, plus it's an improvement on almost anything you can buy commercially for this purpose. I should know, I spent several days going through websites with a fine toothed comb trying to find something suitable to take with me, and it was almost all high in fat, sugar, or both. I don't get on with sugar, and I really have to stay off fat due to gallstones. Anyway, I now have a variety of snacks to see me through the weekend, and realistically I overdid it and probably have enough to keep me going even if they completely fail to feed me at all. They'll be useful emergency fodder for hospital trips and such afterwards, though, as the hospitals always completely fail to feed me at all even when they repeatedly promise to beforehand, so it's not wasted.

Toad in the hole is something to do with sausages and mashed potato, I think, but my memory is shot and I've been vegetarian since I was 11, so I'm sort of guessing there. I don't come from a background of traditional English cooking, and I doubt there are many households making the likes of toad in the hole these days. It's the kind of thing I associate with children's books from the fifties or earlier.

I can never quite remember what a biscuit is in American. I know that what we call biscuits, you call cookies, only apparently it's not quite that simple either.

Vegan marshmallows are around, but I think they're still relatively rare. I've never actually tried them.

The fruit and oat bar looks nice, although too much sugar for me, and too high in fat from the nuts and seeds for my current situation. Life is going to be a bit easier once that pesky gall bladder is out. I'm also amused by his attitude towards counting calories: I put it through the Sparkpeople calculator and it's 260 calories per piece, including 12.3g fat and 14g sugar! Five a day, forsooth.

11-10-2011, 05:56 AM
Ah, I did not know about the gall bladder. That does make a difference. I am glad the flapjacks worked out. I don't know that could manage having to eat both low calorie and very low fat, I tried to stay under 20% when I was losing and felt quite the brave little soldier.

Yes, bikkies = roughly cookies in America, although I think we have a much wider variety of the home-made type. In the US the "biscuit" varies a bit regionally, and in the South is taken especially seriously. It usually baking-powder raised, either fluffy or flaky depending on whether it is drop or cut-out, and unsweetened. It's made with a lot of butter or lard, and normally eaten with dinner and used to sop up gravy. The sweet version of the same recipe (although usually in gigantic portion sizes) is now what is widely marketed as a "scone" in the US.

11-10-2011, 08:04 AM
Actually, I'm on about 20% fat at the moment, although right now I'm temporarily on a higher dose of supplements which includes 6g essential fatty acids (starflower oil, algae oil and echium oil). Apparently it's more about making sure I don't have too much fat at any one point rather than the overall percentage. When I was first told it might be gallstones, I was seeing a GP (not my usual one) who didn't have a clue about nutrition and told me that 27% of calories from fat was very high and that I should be on 10%. When I queried that, he said airily that 10% was what they told all their patients. I went home, tried cooking with so little fat, and brought it up again with a GP I knew better. When I explained that 10% fat means no seeds, no nuts, no soya milk in porridge, and in fact you start worrying about the amount of fat in the oats, she said, "Oh, is that what it means? He must have meant 10% from saturated fat." Which I'm well under. I do wish these doctors would bother to learn a bit about basic nutrition before laying down the law like that, especially considering how many people have one problem or another related to diet or weight.

Anyway, I am rarely eating nuts or seeds, make my porridge with half soya milk and half water (and like it that way now), use about 1/4 tsp oil for cooking for one (I was probably using that most of the time before, I'm just watching more carefully when I pour it in - decanting all the oils into smaller bottles makes that easier), not eating much chocolate, and not going overboard with tofu either. It's not actually that hard, and having fewer grams of fat results in more calories to spare as fat is so much more calorie-dense.