The Brits are responsible for copious inventions that have transformed modern life, including the reflecting telescope, television, stainless steel, hip replacements, military tanks, and the telephone.
Add granola bars to that list.
Long before Nature Valley and the Quaker oats man were selling their packaged snacks to the world, British home cooks were making the world’s first granola bars to pack into lunches and accompany afternoon tea.
They call them flapjacks.
In their simplest form, they comprise oats, butter, and golden syrup. It’s the kind of minimalism that granola bar manufacturers are longing to achieve with their new artisan- organic- natural -bars (for $2 per bar). But alas, even in the UK, the original version of the flapjack has been maligned by mass manufacturers who pump ready-to-eat versions full of additives, refined white flour and cheap choco bits.
My version is a back to basics version, with a US twist: a combination of honey and brown sugar in place of the golden syrup.
Let’s face it, most of us do not have a British import store at our disposal; moreover, the point of flapjacks is simple, wholesome eating with a handful of everyday ingredients.
Simply substituting honey for golden syrup, without the addition of sugar, does not work (unless honey-butter granola is your desired outcome). Combining sugar and honey into a syrup, however, works like a charm.
I also add some vanilla and salt to the mix. They may not be traditional , but who cares: the two add-ins elevate flapjacks from good to great with a mere squirt and sprinkle.
Finally, a word for those of us with British heritage: the next time someone maligns British cooking, feel free to insert (degree of force is an individual choice) a flapjack into the offender’s mouth (Note: a buttered scone will also suffice).
Here’s to British cooking, granola bars, and pack-able, portable eats!