These chewy, oaty snack bars are an English classic! With a buttery, caramel like flavour from the golden syrup they’re also incredibly versatile as you can use whatever mix-ins you desire. Here we’ve gone for a fruit, nut & seed flapjack but I’m also partial to a chocolate chip flapjack for a more dessert-y vibe.
What are flapjacks?
If you’re not from England, you might not have eaten a flapjack before. These are oat-based baked squares, usually made with melted butter, sugar and golden syrup. They ‘re delicious and simple like that but you can also add in so many other ingredients like nuts, seeds, dried fruit or chocolate chips. I think they’re pretty similar to a granola bar but I’d say the main difference is that flapjacks have the key ingredient of golden syrup, which gives them their characteristic flavour & chew.
The name flapjack seems to have originated from the word ‘flap’ referring to a griddle cake/pancake because of the flipping motion used in cooking them. The ‘jack’ part is though to just be something that was added on to many English words (e.g. jackpot), or could refer to something small. (Reference).
American flapjacks are pancakes, not oaty squares. Their name comes from the same root but after many years, ended up referring to a different food.
How long do flapjacks keep?
Flapjacks keep extremely well at room temperature – in an airtight container they should last for up to 2 weeks. There’s not really any need to keep them in the fridge, unless you prefer to eat them cold!
If you want to keep them for longer you can freeze them post-bake. Just pop them into a resealable sandwich bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Just let them defrost at room temp before eating.
Common flapjack issues
- Why did my flapjacks fall apart: You might also find that some recipes result in a crumbly flapjack which doesn’t hold together properly.
- First of all: flapjacks will still be soft and crumbly when they’re HOT – so the problem could be that you haven’t let them cool!!
- Another issue may be with the recipe if it doesn’t contain sufficient amounts of syrup or sugar which are the binders for flapjacks.
- Another issue may be over or underbaking. If you overbake them, they’ll dry out and won’t have sufficient moisture to stay soft & gooey – if you notice that the texture of the baked flapjack seems dry, this is probably your issue. If you underbake them, the sugar/syrup won’t thicken enough in the oven to hold the mixture together – if you notice that the baked flapjacks seem gloopy and sticky (instead of firm and chewy), this is probably the issue (you can pop them back in the oven for 5-10 minutes to see if it helps).
- Why are my flapjacks too soft? Again this can be an issue with the recipe or with the bake time. If you underbake the flapjacks, the sugar & syrup won’t have cooked for long enough to create the thick ‘caramel’ required to hold the oats together.
- Why are my flapjacks stuck to the greaseproof paper?
- Sometimes I find that different brands of baking paper stick more/less to baked goods so if you think this is your problem, try another brand. (For people in the UK: I generally find Sainsbury’s baking paper is a good all-rounder).
- Sometimes the flapjack mixture will stick because of the golden syrup in the mixture seeping under the paper so an easy way to remove it is to warm the flapjacks up again – whilst they’re hot the sugar will be pliable so you should be able to peel away the paper much more easily. You can also grease the tin with vegan butter and dust with flour instead of using baking paper although I think this is more risky than using baking paper as there’s more potential for them to get stuck in the tin.
How to tell when flapjacks are done:
As always, baking times are only a suggestion due to differences in ovens/ingredients/weather/baking tins etc so the best way to tell if flapjacks are cooked are by visual cues. They edges of the flapjacks should be golden brown and the mixture should be bubbling. You may notice that they’re super soft straight from the oven, even when they’ve had enough time in the oven – this is because the sugar & syrup are still hot. Once the flapjacks cool down properly they’ll set and firm up. This is why it’s also a good idea to let the flapjacks cool before slicing so you can get nice clean cuts.
Ingredients for vegan flapjacks
Oats – there are 2 main types of oat for baking with, jumbo oats (a.k.a. old fashioned oats) which are chunkier flakes, and rolled oats (a.k.a. porridge oats) which are finer, smaller flakes. You can use either type or a combo here! Using jumbo oats will give you a chewier texture whereas the rolled oats create a more cohesive mix, leading to a softer more cookie-like texture. I sometimes like to do a combo of the 2, to get the best of both worlds.
Vegan block butter – I simply swapped the unsalted butter from my Aunt’s flapjack recipe for a vegan block butter. I’ve tested Naturli & Stork in this recipe and they both work well. Just avoid tub margarines as they can make the finished flapjack have a greasier texture.
Sugar – You might see different types of sugar used in all different recipes. This recipe is very forgiving so you can use a mixture of different sugars (or just one type) and it’ll still work great. I like to use a mixture of granulated sugar and light brown sugar but you can use caster sugar, dark brown sugar or even coconut sugar.
Golden syrup – I think this is essential for the specific flavour that flapjacks have. As it’s such a thick syrup it also helps to bind the oats together properly and gives the bars a chewy texture. If you have to make them without golden syrup, you’ll need to use a syrup which is quite thick instead (so maple syrup as a direct sub won’t work here) – something like brown rice syrup or corn syrup will work but won’t give the same flavour. If you consume runny honey (which technically isn’t vegan) you can use it here too – the flavour of the honey will come through in the final bake.
Flour – I use plain white flour for my flapjacks the majority of the time. These also work with wholemeal pastry flour or even rye flour. Because of the inclusion of flour, flapjacks aren’t usually gluten-free, however you can use a gluten-free flour blend (e.g. Doves farm) in this recipe. Just make sure your oats are GF too!
Dried fruit, Nuts, Seeds or Chocolate Chips – Add whichever mix-ins you fancy here. I like to stir most of them into the flapjack mixture and then reserve some to sprinkle on top. The exception here is chocolate chips which I prefer to *not* mix in and I *only* sprinkle on top – this is because if you try to stir them into the hot flapjack mixture, they’ll start to melt.
How to make vegan flapjacks
The process is very simple, it’s basically a melt & mix job:
- Melt together the vegan butter, golden syrup & sugars in a pot then stir in the oats and flour.
- Fold in most of your mix-ins and press the mixture into a 20cm (8-inch) square tin lined with a sling of baking paper.
- Press any remaining mix-ins on top and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden around the edges and bubbling.
- Allow to cool before slicing into squares.
Other vegan bakes:
- 168g (3/4 cup) vegan block butter (I like Stork or Naturli)
- 168g (3/4 cup) sugar (*see notes)
- 2 tbsp golden syrup
- 85g (2/3 cup) plain white flour (GF flour blends will work)
- 225g (2 3/4 cups) oats (*see notes)
- up to 200g (~1 cup) mix-ins of your choice: dried fruits, nuts, seeds, chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 180C fan (350F fan) or 200C non-fan (400F non-fan). Line a 20cm (8-inch) square baking tin with baking paper.
- Place the vegan butter, sugar and golden syrup in a medium pot. Place on a medium heat on the stove and leave until the butter has melted, mixing every now and then.
- Remove from the heat and add in the flour and oats. Stir until there are no floury patches remaining and all the oats are well-coated.
- Add any 'mix ins' you want now (except chocolate chips as those will just melt), reserving a handful for the top for decoration, and stir together.
- Tip the contents of the pot into the lined tin and press down to form an even layer. You can sprinkle your reserved handful of additional 'mix-ins' or, if you're using chocolate chips, sprinkle them on now. Press them into the flapjack mixture.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbling with golden edges. They will seem very soft when they're hot so allow them to cool before slicing into 16 squares.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks or wrap and freeze for up to 2 months.
*Type of Sugar: I like to use a mixture of 1/3 light brown sugar and 2/3 granulated sugar. You can also use dark brown sugar, coconut sugar, caster sugar. You can use one type or a mixture!
*Type of Oats: You can use either old fashioned (aka jumbo) oats here or porridge oats/rolled oats. The kind you use will alter the texture slightly - jumbo oats are thicker so will give you a chewier flapjack with more of a caramel-like texture. Rolled oats are finer so mix into the sugar more completely & will give you a more cohesive, softer texture. You can use one type or a mixture of the two!
Golden syrup: I think golden syrup is key to the flavour and chewy texture of the best flapjacks. However, I know it can be hard to come by in which case substituting honey will work fine (depending on whether you consume it or not, as a vegan). You can also use corn syrup or brown rice syrup, they just won't have the same flavour.