I must start this post by sharing some very exciting news. A few weeks ago, Melissa and I entered the First Pitch competition for new businesses run by the National Market Traders' Federation. We are thrilled that we have just qualified for the first round and have been given five days' free test trading at Worthing Outdoor Market - every Wednesday from 29 June. During this time the NMTF will assess us to see if we are good enough to be one of the 50 shortlisted businesses to go through to the next round, which will give us a whole year's trading at reduced rates with invaluable on-site mentoring from the NMTF. At the end of the year the overall winner will receive £2000 so I now have even more pressure on finding the right recipes for this and our upcoming stall at the Picnic in Queen's Park a week on Sunday.
So today's recipe trial is for Lemon Marmalade Flapjacks. Now these were delicious and went down a storm at the Kemptown Carnival a couple of weeks ago, so why mess with a good thing? Well I was hoping that I might be able to substitute the butter in the recipe for sunflower oil so that they would be suitable for vegans. But would they still taste as good?
After some fruitless scouring on the internet about how to substitute oil for butter in a recipe (and using vegan margarine just didn't seem right) I just decided to go with my gut instinct. So here's my adapted version of Dan Lepard's original marmalade flapjack recipe:
Sunshine Marmalade Flapjacks (makes 16)
200g dried apricots
200ml sunflower oil
125g dark soft brown sugar
150g lemon marmalade (try my recipe for Sunshine Marmalade)
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
2 scant tbsp black treacle
400g rolled oats
1. Chop the apricots into chunks about the size of raisins and cover boiling water. Set aside for 10 minutes then drain off the excess liquid.
2. Heat your oven to 180C (160 fan-assisted) and line a baking tray with foil - 25cm square is ideal.
3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the brown sugar, lemon marmalade, lemon zest and treacle, and bring just to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the oats and drained apricots until well mixed.
4. Spoon the mixture into the tin and squish it down evenly, making sure it fills all the corners (incidentally when I did my trial I made 1/2 the quantity and just filled up to halfway across the tin and the mixture was completely well behaved and remained in fat flapjack yumminess).
5. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 25 minutes, until lightly coloured at the edges. Dan says that the timing is slightly tricky to get right - if you bake it too long, the flapjacks turn rock hard when cold; bake it too little and they crumble - I did mine for 27 minutes and they were perfect.
6. Remove from the oven and cut into squares in the tin once they are cooled a little but still warm.
And the verdict? Well, adopting my favourite Larry David accent, I have to say these were pretty pretty good. The lemony treacliness gives these flapjacks such a lovely flavour that you don't miss the butter. All in all I don't see any reason why these can't be made with sunflower oil going forwards - it has the added bonus of being vegan, lower in saturated fat and easier on your wallet!