Granola Bars Classic and Updated

When is a flapjack not a flapjack?When it’s a granola bar . . . .

There’s a lot of confusion between flapjacks and granola bars, not least because in America flapjack is another name for pancake, also sometimes known as hot cakes. Of course, we would call American pancakes ‘Scotch pancakes’ or even ‘drop scones’ but that’s another story. Oh, and Americans call our scones ‘biscuits’ and that’s yet another story . . . .

Basically though, granola cereal and granola bars are made with toasted oats: that’s the crucial thing, the oats in a granola bar are toasted, in a flapjack, they’re not.

The combination of toasted oats, pure butter and vanilla give these particular granola bars a very more-ish flavour. Full of good things, they are quite substantial and make a great portable lunch.

Quite a few years ago, as a younger person with a lighting fast metabolism, I would take a hefty slice of granola bar to work virtually every day and eat it with slices of cheese and an apple for lunch.

You can do that too if you have a very active life-style! Otherwise, you might prefer to have a smaller piece with a cup of tea or coffee as a treat or take some with you on a bracing country walk.

Granola Bar Tips:

Make a half quantity

A small - 23x14cm (9x5½ inches) - ceramic baking dish makes a handy baking tin for a half quantity of either version.

Unlike the flapjack mixture (see previous post) the granola bar mix is a bit too sticky for the unlined and refrigeration treatment, so line the bottom with greaseproof paper.

Leave the baked granola bars to to cool in the dish and mark into pieces whilst still warm.

Bake for 15-20 minutes as before.

How to measure honey and syrup easily

Swirl a tiny amount of cooking oil round your tablespoon before measuring the honey: it will then just slip off the spoon.

Classic Original Granola Bars

This is the original raisin and walnut version: going back a few years but still wonderful.

Make 10-12 bars

  • 350g (12oz) porridge oats
  • 50g (2oz) walnuts, chopped
  • 250g (9oz) salted butter
  • 175g (6oz) Demerara sugar (or use soft brown)
  • 6 tablespoons runny honey
  • 175g (6oz) raisins
  • 2 small-medium eggs
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

You will need a greased 20cm (8 inch) square brownie tin: line the bottom with greaseproof paper or similar – turn the tin over and draw round it to ensure a good fit. Press the paper into the greased tin, smoothing it into the corners.

Preheat oven to 160C (fan ovens) or equivalent

Put the oats into a large, ungreased, dry frying pan and cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until they are pale golden brown. You may need to do this in 2 batches.

Add the walnuts to the pan halfway through to toast as well.

(Alternatively, toast the oats in the oven on a moderate setting until pale golden brown, adding the nuts halfway as before.)

Put the sugar, honey, and butter into a saucepan and cook over a medium heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has lost its grittiness. Add the raisins towards the end to plump up a little.

Stir the oats and nuts into the melted mixture and cool slightly.

Lightly beat the egg and stir in the vanilla extract.

Stir into the oat mix.

Press into the prepared tin, smoothing the top with the back of a metal spoon – it helps if the spoon is wet.

Bake for 15- 20 minutes or until pale golden.

Cool the tin: mark into pieces whilst still warm.

Store in a sealed container: ideally in the fridge.

Updated Granola Bars: Funky-Style

This updated ‘coffee-shop inspired’ version looks especially good with the contrasting red cranberries, green pumpkin seeds and green tinged pistachios and it tastes fantastic (the pistachios are irresistible) but customise your own version if you like. You can vary the mix depending on what’s in the cupboard and what you fancy.

Test the pistachios first – you can’t be too careful as all nuts are full of oils and can go rancid quickly, tainting the whole granola batch.

Make 10-12 bars

  • 350g (8oz) porridge oats
  • 175g (6oz) cranberries
  • 50g (2oz) pistachio kernels cut in halves
  • 25g (1oz) pumpkin seeds
  • 250g (9oz) salted butter
  • 175g (6oz) soft brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons runny honey
  • 2 small-medium eggs
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

You will need a greased 20cm (8 inch) square brownie tin: line the bottom with greaseproof paper or similar – turn the tin over and draw round it to ensure a good fit. Press the paper into the greased tin, smoothing it into the corners.

(Test the pistachios again, to make doubly sure.)

Put the oats into a large, ungreased, dry frying pan and cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until they are pale golden brown. You may need to do this in 2 batches.

(Try the pistachios again, you may as well. Go on, have 2 or 3!)

Add the pistachios and pumpkin seeds to the pan halfway through to toast as well.

Alternatively, toast the oats in the oven on a moderate setting until pale golden brown, adding the nuts halfway as before.

Put the sugar, honey, and butter into a saucepan and cook over a medium heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has lost its grittiness. Add the raisins towards the end to plump up a little.

(Are you sure those pistachios are OK? Maybe you should try a couple now they are toasted?)

Stir the oats and nuts into the melted mixture and cool slightly.

Lightly beat the egg and stir in the vanilla extract.

Stir into the oat mix.

Press into the prepared tin, smoothing the top with the back of a metal spoon – it helps if the spoon is wet.

Bake for 15- 20 minutes or until pale golden.

Cool the tin: mark into pieces whilst still warm.

Store in a sealed container: ideally in the fridge.

Incidentally, if you’ve only bought a small bag of pistachios, you should probably eat the rest now whilst you are waiting for the granola bars to bake – as we know, they won’t keep long! And they are full of nutrients. . . .