Condensed milk Tahini Flapjacks

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The past weekend was one of the best that could’ve possibly been. The late Saturday afternoon welcomed a trip to Borough Market, undoubtedly one of my favourite places in one of my favourite cities. It’s here that I came across ‘flaxjacks’ by Flax Farm, a specialty flapjack store that uses cold-pressed linseed (flax) and linseed oil to add more bang for your buck. As I savoured their bestseller (apricot, orange and pumpkin seed), I realised not once have I tried making this classic, stereotypically English treat. With a new stock of ingredients haphazardly put together, the task had to be completed.

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Just a week into school has gifted the worth of baking once more; each bout of newness allowing ingress of a more meditative mode. All very complementary. Though I’m not used to making or eating flapjacks, I adore its solemn simplicity, both in character and assembly. It’s all just a matter of mixing together the traditional group of ingredients: rolled oats, golden syrup, butter and brown sugar. I changed the ingredients and proportion of this make-up, replacing most of the glucose bits with condensed milk, tahini, and, yes, golden syrup for good measure. Jam is then blobbed on top, which melts a little into the jacks and prove a firm, jammy consistency after baking.

Gooey tops slathered in the familiar milky sweetness of condensed milk, hard, well-cooked bottoms. I like the crunch of an edge and a little bit of snap when it comes to anything oat bar-y, and this recipe really did the trick with that. If you’re into less hard bars, simply bake them for a little while less.

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Condensed milk Tahini Flapjacks (makes 16 rectangular bars)

Ingredients

200g butter

pinch of salt

90g condensed milk

20g golden syrup

5 tbsp brown sugar

200g porridge/rolled oats

120g cereal of choice (I used cornflakes, crushed briefly before addition)

4 tbsp tahini

7-9 tbsp raspberry jam

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 180c and briefly butter a 8×8 or 9×9-inch pan. Line your pan with some parchment, if you wish. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the salt, sugar, condensed milk and stir over the heat for a couple of minutes. Take the pan off the heat and mix in the oats, cereal and tahini with a wooden spoon. Press this mix into your pan to form an even layer. Dollop the jam however which way you want on your flapjacks; I did it in a 3×3 fashion. Bake the bars in your preheated oven for 35 minutes. Check them at the half-hour mark– if they are golden-brown on top, take them out. The bars may be soft to touch, but will harden as you let them cool on the counter. After letting them cool for 10 minutes, drizzle with more condensed milk and tahini, add some sliced almonds (optional, I added them for textural variety), and cut into bars. These are best eaten the same day, but can be stored at room temperature or the fridge for up to a week.

 

Linzer Torte

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After Linz, in Austria, and said to be the oldest cake in the world. I love how a new recipe lets in some learning. It’s so easy to forget how something so ubiquitous so brims with history. Imagining this torte being caressed by a medieval stranger in 1696 and then being made by someone in the current century is mystical, almost haunting.

Have finally settled into the new house before the advent of a new term, routine is taking form once more; something I’m so grateful for and excited about after a deleterious flight which messes up the mind and shakes up calm. Excitement must be the shorthand term for what I felt once reunited with some favourite people after what seemed to be forever. It only seemed natural to bake something to celebrate. Something incredibly simple but so satisfying.

The crust is traditionally laced with ground almonds and made with egg yolks. It’s also typically decorated with flaked almonds, but  I made do with just a simple lattice and sugar to top before the oven-throw. The filling is probably the easiest in the world. I made do with raspberry jam, which you can make yourself or simply use store-bought. Once baked, the interior becomes thick, glistening and gooey, perfectly holding form for clean cuts and gooey bellies.

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Linzer Torte (makes one 9-inch tart)

Ingredients

165g plain flour, plus more for the counter

100g ground almonds

155g caster sugar

150g cold butter, cut into cubes

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg, beaten

250g good quality raspberry jam

 

Directions

Grease your tart tin and preheat your oven to 190C. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, ground almonds and salt. Rub in the cubes of butter into the flour mix until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the egg and mix until you get a moist dough. Since this dough is quite sticky, I found it helpful to lightly flour the tin and my hands for easy molding. Remove about a quarter of the dough and set aside, this will be for the lattice top. Take the bulk of the dough and press neatly into the bottom and up the shallow sides of the tart tin. Press the dough into the ridges of the sides of the tin, and use a sharp knife to trim off excess around the rim.

Fill the tart with the raspberry jam and spread it around evenly. Flour your work surface and put the remaining quarter of dough you set aside on the surface. Roll into a rectangular slab that’s 3mm thick and just long enough to stretch the diameter of your tin. Cut into 6 strips. Lay three on your tart horizontally, and then the next three vertically.

Sprinkle the top of the tart with caster sugar, then bake for 25 minutes. Check at the 20-minute mark. It should be golden-brown on top, and some jam may be seeping in between the lattice hold. That’s ok, nice and rustic. Cool in the tart tin for at least 10 minutes before removing, slicing and serving.