John Whaite’s brown butter, apple and fig flapjack

Flapjack is a perfect example of balance: a sweet treat that conveys a decent amount of nourishment. While the sugar and butter signal that this is a treat to be enjoyed only occasionally, there is still much virtue to be found in the humble classic.

Oats are full of magnesium – which is vital for regulating blood pressure and helping reduce risk of heart attack and stroke. Data also suggests a lack of magnesium correlates closely with depression. It’s plain to see that oats should be a vital part of your diet.

The dried apple, while added primarily for flavour, also offers dietary fibre – as do the oats – which helps to regulate the body’s absorption of carbohydrates and so reduce spikes in blood sugar. It’s full of key B vitamins, too. Dried figs contribute to dietary fibre as well, but they are also a great source of calcium and potassium, important minerals for keeping bones strong and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

It seems there is far more to the humble flapjack than its heavenly chewiness.

John whaite flapjack
Nassima Rothacker


250g salted butter, cubed
120g light brown muscovado sugar
180g runny honey
375g jumbo oats
100g dried apple pieces, chopped
100g dried figs, chopped
45g dark Ryvita crackers, crushed

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and grease and line a 20cm x 30cm baking tin with baking parchment.

2. First make the brown butter. Place the cubed butter into a medium-sized saucepan and set over a high heat. Once melted, the butter will start to bubble violently – this is just the excess moisture evaporating. Swirl the pan every 30 seconds or so as the butter spits at you. When the bubbling subsides, and a fine cappuccino-like foam appears on the surface of the butter accompanied by a rich nutty smell, remove the pan from the heat and add the sugar and honey. Stir to dissolve the sugar.

3. In a mixing bowl toss together the oats, dried fruit and crushed Ryvita, then add the butter mixture. Stir to combine everything really well – the oats should be completely damp from the brown butter.

4. Tip the mixture into the prepared baking tin and press down to level and compact the oaty rubble as tightly as possible.

5. Bake for 20 minutes, press down again – though carefully, as it will be very hot – then bake for a further 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely in the tin, then tip on  to a chopping board and cut into 16 triangles.

Buy the book and help a great cause

a taste of home the passage charity cookbookThis recipe is from A Taste of Home: 120 Delicious Recipes from Leading Chefs and Celebrities compiled by Kyle Cathie, price £25, to be published on 15 October by The Passage Trading Services Ltd. YOU readers can buy copies from Waterstones, where at least £20 from each sale will go straight to The Passage. For more details, go to