Flapjacks: The 1980s teatime edition

A lot has changed since the 1980s. Cadbury’s Creme Eggs have shrunk to 1/8 of their previous proportions (probably). Children’s television lasts indefinitely, as opposed to the 90 precious minutes after you got in from school. The less said about My Little Pony’s fate, the better. And flapjacks have forgotten their roots.

The 2013 flapjack is still delicious. But it is buttery and soft and rather bland on its own, hence the trend for studding them with berries and chocolate and the like. But the 1980s teatime flapjack could stand its ground without any adornments. Buttery and sweet yes, but also fiery with ginger and a tang of lemon. Relentlessly chewy, the only accompaniment it needed was a can of Tizer and an episode of Count Duckula.

This is my attempt at recreating the 1980s flapjack. I am not sure whether I am quite there yet, but the spicy citrus smell that filled my kitchen as it baked suggests…

1980s Flapjacks


175g unsalted butter
175g golden syrup
175g soft light brown sugar
2tsps ground ginger
The zest of one lemon
350g porridge oats

1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Line an 8 inch square tin with baking paper. Set aside.

2) Over a medium heat (and indeed, in a medium saucepan), melt together the butter, golden syrup and sugar until combined. Remove from the heat and stir in the ginger and lemon.

3) Pour in the oats and stir until well combined, occasionally spooning a bit into your mouth. Spread evenly into your prepared tin, preferably using your hands so that you can eat more mixture.

4) Bake for 40 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Allow to cool for 30 minutes in the tin on a rack, then remove. Try to save cutting it up until it has cooled through, or you’ll end up with some rather messy bits that fall apart and demand to be eaten immediately. Not always a bad thing.

Store Cupboard Lemon Drizzle Cake

Despite the fact I love its enveloping stickiness and lengthy tin life, I rarely make lemon drizzle cake. This is because I never have a lemon. Any lemon that enters my household is quickly dispatched to float in a gin and tonic in lieu of limes, halved and shoved up a chicken’s bottom or sentenced to languish in the fruit bowl til green and furry. Coupled with the misery of cleaning a lemon zester, the flour, eggs and butter instantly become a Victoria sponge.

However, I recently discovered that you can buy very good lemon extract to take the place of lemon zest. It gives all the depth of flavour, but without the need for actual lemons. Sainsbury’s Sicilian Lemon Extract is particularly good. Add to that bottled lemon juice – found next to the pancake mix – I can now create lemon drizzle cake on a whim. And have done frequently since this discovery.

This is one of the few times that I will suggest the faff of a loaf tin liner, as all the delicious lemony syrup can effortlessly weld your cake to the bottom of the tin.


Lemon Drizzle Cake

Cooking time: 1 hour plus cooling

You’ll need: a lined 2lb loaf tin and a skewer for pricking the cake


125g lightly salted butter
175g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsps lemon extract
200g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
100ml milk

For the syrup:

125ml lemon juice
100g icing sugar

For the glaze:

50ml lemon juice
150g icing sugar

1) Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celcius. Line your cake tin, ‘gluing’ the liner securely with a bit of butter.

2) Cream the butter and sugar by hand or with a mixer til pale and fluffy. Keep beating as you add the eggs, milk and lemon extract.

3) Carefully fold in the flour and baking powder, adding a little more milk if it becomes too stiff or grainy. Dollop into your prepared loaf tin and bake for 50 minutes, or until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. This will be a delightfully moist cake, so don’t worry about giving it a few extra minutes.

4) While the cake is in the oven, make your syrup. Put the lemon juice and sugar in a pan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Take it off the heat and let it cool. As soon as you remove the cake from the oven it’s time to go postal on your cake. Grab a skewer, picture your ex boyfriend’s smug stupid face and start stabbing. Be careful not to injure yourself or stab through the lining of the tin. Pour over the cooled syrup and let the cake cool completely in its tin.

5) When cooled, combine the remaining icing sugar and lemon juice into a delicious gunky paste. Drizzle over the top of the cooled cake with gay abandon. Try to let it set a little before hacking into it.