Way back when, whilst doing my A Levels, I had a Saturday job at Cooks Bakery in Upton Upon Severn. Cooks is one of those old-fashioned bakeries, very few left now, selling viennese fingers, jam doughnuts, iced buns and florentines. When I was little, my Nan would take me there for a custard slice. I would slice the slab of solidified yellow custard in half horizontally to make two open-sandwiches of puff pastry and custard, saving the one that was smothered in white glace icing until last. I still love a custard slice.
Other highlights of a day’s work at Cooks included the apple and almond slice (pastry topped with a layer of stewed apple and frangipane), the big white tin loaves (this was the time of the white-sliced, so an actual loaf of whole bread was a MAJOR treat) and the flapjacks.
The baker, Mr Russell, always put a handful of coconut into his flapjacks. Not enough to make it discernibly coconutty, but just enough to give an intriguing twist of flavours. I still do this now, but like to chuck in new-fangled things such as dried sour cherries and white chocolate.
Everytime I make flapjacks, I think of my time at Cooks: the striped pinny, the smell of vanilla and that hideous day when I unknowingly sold a dummy porkpie stuffed with newspaper. I didn’t realise it then, but what idyllic days they were.
Back to the flapjacks. Any idiot can do this: melt syrup, butter and sugar together, and mix into rolled oats and coconut.
I like to sandwich the chocolate between layers of flapjack mixture. This helps to stop the chocolate catching and burning in the oven. I have used white today, but plain chocolate is also excellent.
Bake on parchment paper and remember to slice when still warm and pliable.
100g light soft brown sugar
75g golden syrup
200g rolled oats
25g desiccated coconut
handful dried cherries or other fruit
50g white chocolate, chopped
Preheat oven to 180c and line a suitable baking dish with parchment paper.
Melt together butter, syrup and sugar over a gentle heat. Leave to cool slightly whilst you measure out the oats, coconut and fruit into a bowl. Prepare the chocolate and leave to one side for now.
Stir the butter mixture with the oat mixture until well combined. Tip about a third into the prepared dish, sprinkle the chocolate on top, then finish with the remaining mixture. Doing this keeps the chocolate covered, which helps prevent it burning in the oven.
Bake for about 20 minutes until golden and bubbling. Keep an eye on it, over-done flapjacks are not good at all. Cool for 15 minutes or so in the dish then remove the parchment paper and slice the flapjacks. Leave to cool completely.