I had an email a couple of weeks ago from a lady from Mornflake oats, asking if I’d like some samples. Now, I was a big fan of Mornflake as a kid, when the sixth-formers at school had a weekly stall in the dining room where they sold us teenies snacks of the very limited sort allowed by our health-fascist teachers. There wasn’t much that was very good – nobody really liked licorice twigs, and I would sooner die than ever have to eat a carob bar again. Happily, there was one thing on sale I loved without measure – a muesli made by Mornflake with oat clusters, coconut, and chunks of candied papaya and pineapple. Infinitely better for breakfast than school gruel.
I suspect my waxing lyrical about a childhood affection for Mornflake pressed some buttons, because the next morning three cubic feet of oat products arrived on the doorstep. Since then, I’ve been happily munching my way through some really fantastic muesli (the Swiss style is creamy and delicious with the traditional Swiss addition of milk powder, the Fig and Apple is gloriously crispy and tastes divine), oatbran flakes (Very Berry, with strawberries, raspberries and cherries were Dr W’s favourite) and porridge – microwavable single portions in packets, bags of rolled oats, and fine oatbran sprinkles for smooth porridges or garnishes. My cholesterol level is at an all-time low. Mornflake are a considerably older company than I’d realised; the same family has been milling oats for more than 14 generations, and they’ve just celebrated their 333rd anniversary, making them the UK’s eighth-oldest company. The folks at Mornflake tell me that oats will reduce my appetite, keeping me slim and gorgeous (a recent study from King’s College London has identified a hunger-suppressing hormone in oats, which, along with their cholesterol-squelching action appear to be almost sinister in their healthiness). They would also like you to know that a very varied assortment of people, including such luminaries as Tim Henman, Orlando Bloom, David Cameron, Kate Moss and Madonna, have gone on the record as being fans of porridge. I am not sure that this brings anything in particular to your own breakfast experience, but it may be useful for your next pub quiz.
Even after two weeks of artery-cleansing, appetite-suppressing, celebrity-endorsed oaten breakfasts, I still have a goodly portion of Mornflake’s oaten bounty left in the breakfast cupboard. Happily, there’s something really unhealthy and extremely delicious you can do with an awful lot of oats – make an awful lot of flapjacks.
Flapjacks are fast, easy and will make your house smell deliciously of caramel as they cook. To make 25, you’ll need:
275g rolled oats
225g salted butter
225g demerara sugar
2 heaped tablespoons golden syrup
Preheat the oven to 160°C and grease a 30 x 20cm baking tin. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup together in a saucepan over a low heat, and stir the oats into the molten mixture, making sure everything is well blended. Pack the oats into the greased tin, pressing down with the back of a spoon to make sure the mixture is firm and flat on the top.
Bake the flapjacks for 35 minutes, until they are a golden caramel brown. (Overcooking will make your flapjacks hard and dark – 35 minutes will give you crisp edges and a nice squashy middle, but some people prefer a crispier flapjack, so adjust the cooking time to your liking.) Remove from the oven and leave in the tin for ten minutes, then use a spatula to mark the flapjacks into 25 squares. Allow the flapjacks to cool completely before moving them into an airtight tin (or cramming the lot into your face – I’ll leave it up to you).