We have a lovely 5-year-old black Labrador x Collie dog called Barnaby. Apparently ‘free’, in that we had him as a puppy following a friend’s dog producing a surprise litter, he has, in truth, cost us a fortune. There have been the regular vets fees with various illnesses and he has doubled our bread bill, having shown a predilection for sliced brown. But we love him dearly – most of the time.
The only time that love has been tested recently relates to the following recipe. It is, I believe, for perfect flapjacks. Having combined numerous suggested ingredients from numerous cookery books, old and new, I have found that a recipe my brother-in-law Michael suggests can, only slightly amended make really juicy and (almost) healthy bars full of good things. And as you will find out later, dogs love them.
I don’t usually post recipes because there are so many wonderful food blogs out there already and I know my limitations. But this is practically poetry; and having made a batch today I wanted to prompt you to do the same.
‘Let’s pretend they’re good for us’ flapjack squares
150g runny honey (5oz) – I have found that much nicer (and healthier I believe) than golden syrup.
175g butter (6oz) - unsalted if you can but I used salted and it was fine
250g demerara sugar (9oz)
350g oats (12oz) I used porridge oats which worked well though most recipes say ‘rolled oats’
75g walnuts (3oz)
75g raisins (3oz)
75g chopped prunes (3oz)
75g chopped dried figs (3oz)
75g chopped dried apricots (3oz) If you don’t like these three fruits you can substitute with pineapple, mango etc. I just find those a bit sweet.
125g seeds (3oz) – pumpkin, sesame etc. I got one of the mixed bags supermarkets sell.
50g ground almonds (2oz)
You need a 9 inch square tin (or similar, don’t let it stop you making them) greased and lined with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 190C (375F or Gas 5).
Melt butter in the pan with the honey and the sugar, stirring gently till sugar dissolves. The dangerous bit is now – you bring it to the boil for a couple of minutes till it is thick and caramel-y. This is the bit where children should be well supervised…..
Take the pan off the heat and stir in everything else. It is so easy from now on, and it already tastes so delicious it is tempting just to sit with a spoon and eat it…
Tip it all into the tin, pressing it down into the corners. Put it in the middle of the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get too brown. I have always found it hard to prevent getting burnt raisins on the top so I tend to push them under the surface! However, as you can see above, I let it go a little brown at the edge because I love that chewy bit that tastes like honey flavoured toffee….
Leave it to cool for at least 15 mins in the tin or it can fall to pieces, although it must still be warm enough to mark into squares. When it is cold cut along those lines and voilà!
So where does Barnaby come in?
Well we recently spent a week in the Lake District, with a view to walking a fair few miles. As I was going with my husband and two of his brothers who are well-known for their views of ‘food as fuel’ (able to survive on soggy cheese sandwiches and a Kit Kat) I thought I would bake a double batch of flapjacks to take with me - us. They turned out perfectly and sat cooling on a rack on the kitchen worktop. You know where this is going of course, so to keep it brief… The gate across the opening to the kitchen (bought specifically to prevent the dog accessing the aforementioned brown sliced) was left open. Upstairs working, I heard my daughter yelling to me and I went down to find the dog had eaten all but one piece of the sweet, gooey, seed, fruit and oat filled loveliness. Blame is useless, but if you look at the list of ingredients above and double them, you can imagine how scarce we all made ourselves when it became necessary to clear up what was left of the flapjack when it was deposited in the back garden or out on walks.
So I heartily recommend you give this flapjack (or is it granola? I am never really sure of the difference, although you rarely find chocolate covered granola) a try. It is irresistible and as the athletes in my family can attest it is also wonderful for boosting energy. It is also full of things that are renowned for boosting mood so it is tempting to try it for no other reason than to give you pleasure.
It certainly made the dog happy…