Sometimes I’m a little slow on the uptake. Only now am I getting into the Royal Wedding, now that’s it’s over. I’m sure most of you have seen the footage over and over, remarked on Kate’s lovely, lacy dress, reveled in the pagentry, and voyeuristically hoped for some more kissing caught on camera. The way I’m getting into it is with a sweet British biscuit with my less than par American tea. (It’s the best I can do without a fine stash of the British tea at hand.)
For the Brits and the like, I have some hard-to-find American ingredients but easy-to-find European. The wonderful, buttery, toasty Lyle’s Golden syrup has finally made its appearance in my pantry. It’s been long awaited. I remember this thick syrup as a child, an American temporary displaced in the UK, trying to use it as a substitute for maple syrup on pancakes. It was a disappointing replacement, honestly. I couldn’t understand how something that looked so perfectly like American maple syrup could taste so not like it. Only now have realized a-ha! this is good. How can one resist something buttery and toasty flavored? Not everything syrupy must taste like maple. More gustatory maturing going on here.
My memory of this biscuit is vague because of my immature remembering and somewhat dreamy quality of what I remember in England. I know this British biscuit dotting windows in tea shops or on a friend’s great-aunt’s plates for afternoon tea, along with scones and Jaffa cakes. And I wasn’t all that impressed at first, even with its chewy inside and crispy outside. It looked so healthy with all that oatmeal packed in it. Next to the buttery scones, there was no competition. Hot, buttered scones won, hands down.
Over time, I have realized oatmeal’s versatility and its never-failing love. (How can you screw up oatmeal? Not an easy task.) And so here is my ode to oatmeal, to the happy couple, and never-failing love.
But there’s a catch. This recipe didn’t work for me. The absolute key for a recipe like this to work is being able to get the stuff out of the pan. It was stuck. Really stuck. I buttered the pan liberally. I baked it exactly as read (and checked it 3 minutes prior to ensure no burnt edges). I cooled it exactly 5 minutes. I cut it when cooled as instructed. Instead of the flapjacks releasing from the buttery pan, they acted like glue.
I spent the next half day (and this morning) separately wrestling a spatula, fork, or knife to get these out of the pan. Not much luck, unless you count flinging crispy oatmeal bits into your eyes, floor, and onto the unsuspecting cat. The pieces I did release had another little surprise: little bits of metal from the pan stuck onto the oatmeal. Just like marriage, even a royal one, not everything is as expected, there are surprises, and the couple (or the cook and 8 x 8 inch pan coupling) must navigate through them with dignity. I can’t say dignity was what I had when cursing and muttering angrily at the pan, ending up with oatmeal bits in my hair.
The up side: parchment paper. A gift to bakers. Especially to bakers with less-than-sufficient pans. I liken it to a wedding veil: not necessary but so beautiful and stunning with the right dress. Parchment paper is the same: not always needed but can garner oohs and aahs alike from the right baker. Lesson learned: for a happy baking experience and lovely Bristish biscuits for tea, use parchment paper! Or get a better quality pan perhaps. Enjoy these with your less-than-perfect partner and smile at your own imperfections. Until death do us part. Except for a disgraceful scarlet-letter baking pan.
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- ½ cup brown sugar, packed
- ¼ cup Lyle's Golden Syrup
- 2⅓ cups old-fashioned oats
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 8x8x2-inch good quality metal baking pan. Or lightly butter pan, line with parchment paper, then butter the parchment.
- Combine first butter, brown sugar, and Lyle's Golden Syrup in heavy medium saucepan. Stir constantly over medium-low heat until butter melts, sugar dissolves, and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
- Add oats and salt; stir until oats are coated. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and spread out in even layer. I used a wooden spoon to press gently, then used my fingers to finish pressing the edges and corners.
- Bake until top is golden and bubbling (edges will be darker), about 25 minutes (but check sooner to make sure it is not burning). Cool in pan on rack 5 minutes.
- Cut into 4 squares; cut each into 4 triangles (mixture will still be soft). Cool completely in pan before serving. Use your handy-dandy parchment paper to lift flapjacks out of the pan. No cursing or sharp metal objects necessary.