Sunday, 20 December 2009

Back home with festive flapjacks

Thanks to everyone who let me know they enjoyed the Edinburgh posts. It was lovely to be on holiday with all the home comforts of a laptop, oven, washing machine and central heating. We are now back home in Melbourne and over the jetlag (which is worse with a baby) and over the transition from winter to summer (eg. E isn’t thinking he really needs to eat porridge for breakfast). It was sad to leave E’s family but good to be home.

E misses the UK and so do I. He loved Wogan in the morning on Radio 2 and I love the grim British soap operas. I also love how small Edinburgh is when it comes to getting about and the buses are far more frequent. We both agreed that the local Sainsbury’s supermarket at Cameron Toll Shopping Centre was filled with such a variety of goods that we could live in there. Though we were content to leave with just some kids clothes.

But being born and bred in Australia, there are things I really appreciate about living here. No more waiting for the bus with a space to put on the stroller without having to fold it up nor having to leave the stroller at the bottom of the stairwell. No more washing machine on spin cycle in the kitchen, ridiculously small bar fridge and windowless bathrooms. We have a small backyard where I can hang out the washing in the sunshine and grown a few pots of plants. And I quite like having the check-out chick at the supermarket pack my bags for me rather than throw me a few plastic bags and telling me to pack my own.

We didn’t buy much tartan tat souvenirs on this trip, having already got enough of it at home. But we did manage to bring home some gorgeous new clothes and toys for Sylvia, and some lovely plates, cups and a Battle of Britain tea towel for the house. Sylvia also brought home two top front teeth, lots of hair and a new ability to pull herself up on her knees on coffee tables and the like. (Since getting home she is now pulling herself up to stand as well.)

We weren’t away that long and yet there were changes when we got home. It was a surprise to find that in our absence, the government had a new opposition leader, a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner had been appointed, and the Reserve Bank had decided on another interest rate rise. Closer to home was the end of the ratings period for the year. This means decent television shows are thin on the ground and I am missing listening to Jon Faine in the mornings on our local ABC radio.

Unusually, Christmas has crept in this year without so much as a whimper of horror from me. I think it helped being in the UK around the time the festive season hit the shops. They really know how to make it feel as comfy cosy as a toasty warm hot water bottle and slippers. Dark nights are made for Christmas lights but the sunshine is my natural festive habitat.

By the time we got home, we were so deep into the Christmas build-up that it was too late for complaints. We are already into the period when I don’t cringe at carols in the shops, Christmas cards are arriving in the mail, and I welcome mince pies into our kitchen (warmed in the microwave and served with brandy butter for E).

Christmas is not only upon us at home but also in the blogosphere. In blogging, nothing says Christmas like Susan from Food Blogga’s annual Eat Christmas Cookies event. It is the third year and, having participated in the last two years, I wanted to participate this year. I haven’t done a lot of baking since I got home but I did make some wonderful flapjacks, based on a recipe from C at Cake Crumbs and Cooking.

Firstly, I must clarify that these flapjacks are the British sort, made with lots of oats and butter. C rudely reminds us that although oats are very good for you, all the butter and sugar aren’t so they are not at all a healthy food. Sigh! Such a shame because they taste so good. C’s flapjacks were made with treacle and stem ginger.

I’ve not been so keen on ginger in sweet baking but I am coming around to it. I decided to add some chocolate to make them more palatable but really it was just the icing on the cake, to coin a phrase. There is no icing. Just buttery, oaty, chocolatey, gingery yumminess. When I have made flapjacks before they have been too crispy. These were a little undercooked - soft and sticky and falling apart in my hand. But the flavours were so delicious that I didn’t mind. A few darker ones which were cooked properly were excellent – both chewy and crispy.

Chocolate and ginger is a classic festive combination. With the addition of melted butter and golden syrup which is my number one nostalgic smell, plus the intense stickiness of treacle, you have some wonderful flapjacks. Expect to see more crystallised ginger on this blog!

I am not sure I would consider these to be true cookies but as Susan is kind enough to have the round-up posted as entries flood in, I can see that these fit into the broad definition. And they are so festive and delicious, I am sure she will not refuse. Go to the Eat Christmas Cookies Season 3 round-up to check out all the other wonderful cookies she has been sent.

Chocolate and ginger flapjacks
Adapted from Cake Crumbs and Cooking

175g butter or margarine
120g brown sugar
100g golden syrup
100g black treacle
350g rolled oats
60g chopped crystallised stem ginger
150g dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Grease and line an 8" x 12" (20 x 30 cm) lamington tin (or jelly roll tin).

Melt the butter, sugar, treacle and syrup over a low heat in a large saucepan. Once melted, turn off the heat, stir in oats and ginger and allow to cool slightly. Quickly stir in choc chips so that they don’t all melt.

Spoon into prepared tin and smooth top with the back of a spoon. Bake for about 30 minutes or until top is darkened slightly and crispy. (NB: this mixture is quite dark to start with so I found it hard to see when it was cooked by the bits that looks a little too cooked were actually the best bits because they were a little chewy and crispy - see above photos.)

Use a sharp knife to mark into pieces while still warm and allow to cool completely in tin. Will keep for a few days in an airtight container.

On the Stereo:
The Original Christmas Album: 20 Party Christmas Crackers: Various Artists

9 comments:

  1. Welcome home! I'm so happy to hear y'all had a wonderful journey and a safe flight home! I so enjoyed reading about all your glorious Edinburgh adventures... and I definitely sighed with delight while reading your heavenly flapjack recipe! I can just imagine how gooey and delicious these are... Mmmmm... :-)

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  2. Well done Sylvia! E will be sad to hear that Wogan has broadcast his last morning show now - not that I'll notice as I'm a Today programme sort of girl myself. Now that I would miss if I left the UK. Glad to hear that you've arrived back in nice Christmassy spirit - and the gingery flapjacks sound just the ticket!

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  3. Really glad you had such a nice time in Edinburgh. I'm pleased you like the flapjack too - chocolate sounds like a great addition!!!

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  4. Glad you had such a good time in the UK. The flapjack looks lovely and very festive with the ginger.

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  5. Oh my those sound tasty. I'm with you on the ginger, my love for it in baked goods came only recently. I haven't tried the crystallized sort, but should!

    It is curious, flapjacks in the states refer to pancakes, it's fun to see that the term has a completely different meaning overseas.

    Welcome home, and Merry Christmas!

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  6. It's like a flapjack married a bar cookie. How fun! Thanks, Johnna, and happy holidays!

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  7. Your Scotland-Australia comparison is very diplomatic--both have much to love. :) When I think of flapjacks, I think of pancakes, but these are entirely different. They look delicious!

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  8. Yum! I have never tried flapjacks, but they look delicious - I like oaty slices.

    I appreciate many of the lifetsyle aspects we have here too - I remember my small flat in London with the almost non-existent kitchen, complete with washing machine, double burner and bar fridge!

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  9. Thanks Astra - they were delicious - now I wish I had some left

    Thanks Lysy - being in the UK helped get us going with christmas - sad to hear wogan has finished up - we enjoyed listening to him

    Thanks C - I am always a sucker for chocolate but glad you have got me onto candied/glace/crystallised ginger

    Thanks Katie - yes was lovely in the UK - we are probably lucky we missed the really cold weather

    Thanks Sarah - I grew up with flapjacks as pancakes but have readily embraced the british version

    Thanks Susan - I love it when sweet treats marry :-)

    Thanks Ricki - living on different sides of the world I have learnt that the grass is always greener but the family tugs at the heartstrings

    Thanks Cakelaw - hard to imagine you and all your baking with no proper kitchen - I read somewhere that flapjacks are like our Australian muesli slices - makes sense!

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