Chewy flapjack, no flour?

September 24, 2019 8:48 am Published by Leave your thoughts

At Naturally Good Food, we’re famous for our chewy flapjack recipe. It grew out of frustration: for years, I’d been trying to find a flapjack recipe that produced chewy – rather than crunchy – flapjacks. These were once described to me as ‘tube station flapjacks’ – the kind you pick up ready-wrapped on the go. (Though I was looking for something nicer than that, obviously.)

Can you make a chewy flapjack - without flour?

All the flapjack recipes I found promised a certain chewiness, but failed to deliver. My mixtures continued to burn around the edges and to be brittle and crumbly. I tried adding more fat, more syrup, more oats – to no effect.

And then I found it: the Perfect Chewy Flapjack Recipe. Adapted from an original from the BeRo Home Baking book (40th Edition), we immortalized it at Naturally Good Food in our blog The Perfect Chewy Flapjack Recipe. Six years on, it remains our most popular and searched for article! We’ve occasionally taken our flapjack expertise into new channels (The Ultimate Luxury Showstopper Flapjack, Troubleshoot your Flapjack), which are popular too – but nothing beats the simplicity of the original.

The secret of the chewy flapjack

This recipe makes a chewy flapjack. It’s got the oats, the sugar, the syrup/honey and the butter. It tastes delicious and it sticks together. You can put it in a kid’s packed lunch box and it won’t turn into muesli by break time. You can take it on a hike and it’ll still be a recognizable flapjack by the time you get to the top of the mountain. It’s big and chunky and really satisfying.

What’s the secret? It’s flour. Self-raising flour, to be precise. Presumably, it’s the gluten in the flour that has the desired effect, binding the other ingredients together in a wonderfully sticky mass.

Gluten-free chewy flapjacks?

We know there are people using gluten-free flour in our flapjack recipe. We haven’t tried that out ourselves, so would be interested to hear how they get on with it. These people will also be using guaranteed gluten-free oats (or other gluten-free flakes, such as rice flakes) to make their flapjacks. Oats don’t contain gluten themselves, but they’re frequently contaminated with gluten during the growing, harvesting and processing of the grain, where other gluten-containing crops are in the vicinity. Oats do contain a protein called ‘avenin’, which is very similar to gluten and does have adverse effects for about 5% of people who are gluten-intolerant. Even gluten-free oats will contain avenin.

Our experiments with gluten-free oats and other flakes – for this particular flapjack recipe – have not, so far, led to such good results as those with gluten-containing ingredients. We’ve found that with gluten-free oats, the recipe doesn’t stick together in the desired way. However, we’re sure there are people out there making wonderful gluten-free chewy flapjacks – if you are, please send us your tips!

No-flour chewy flapjacks?

In the meantime: what if…there was another option? A flapjack that was chewy, but contained no flour at all?

We were contacted earlier this year by a reader, Ben, who reckoned he had found a way to achieve this. He described his method:

“As an alternative to adding flour in, I’ve starting taking some of the oats and whizzing them up in a food blender/processor before mixing them all in. The smaller pieces help to fill some of the gaps that form naturally between the oats and therefore aid with holding the flapjacks together.”

We were intrigued – could it work? This weekend, we put it to the test.

The no-flour chewy flapjack test

On Saturday, we made two batches of the NGF Perfect Chewy Flapjack: the first using Ben’s all-oat method, the second with the usual recipe.

Here’s the all-oats mixture, uncooked and cooked:

Here’s the oat-and-flour mixture, uncooked and cooked:

For comparison purposes, the two are shown together here, with the flapjacks made by Ben’s method on the right-hand tray in each instance.

The results

Ben’s method stuck together: the first non-flour flapjack recipe I’ve used that did so successfully! The squares were definitely more brittle than for the usual version, but they didn’t disintegrate. The oats had a clear definition and the texture was much crunchier. Presumably due to the difference in texture, the mixture caramelized slightly around the edges, giving this batch a deliciously toffee-ish taste. They’re currently all in my biscuit tin, where I look forward to holding further tasting sessions.

The usual recipe, meanwhile, gave the usual results. These flapjacks were perfectly chewy and held their shape well. They tasted more like fudge, compared with Ben’s ‘toffee’ version. They continue to be an extremely popular snack in my house and will remain my go-to flapjack for long journeys and lunchboxes. But I have to say, the taste and texture of Ben’s version is certainly very appealing when a change is needed…..

Any suggestions?

At NGF, we’re now wondering about other options. Could oatmeal be used, perhaps, instead of blitzing the oats in a food-processor? Should we try different types of flour?

Get in touch if you have any experimental tips for us. We cook flapjacks every single week here – we’re up for a new challenge!

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This post was written by Yzanne

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