I can’t believe it’s not butter
“Jeeeeen,” my friend Scott says ominously, squinting disbelievingly at an empty trifle packet. “Do you want to know how many grams of saturated fat there are in a quarter of this?”
“Nah,” I say, trying to disguise my sense of rising panic. I’d just eaten half.
Turns out if we’d stuck to a modest quarter, we’d only have ingested half our daily allowance of sat fat. As it was, we’d left ourselves room only for a corner of the corner from a fruit corner.
And it was so easy. I defy anyone left in charge of a trifle, a spoon and reasonably good hand-eye coordination, not to hoover it up in 10 seconds flat.
Although I recently got laughed at for describing Christmas pud as ‘light,’ I’m sticking to this one. Being 90 per cent airy cream, trifle is weirdly substanceless. And so I’ve started to feel a bit cheated by dairy. I realise the sugar in puddings also has a little something to do with their calorie content but I’m not about to undo a lifetime of skewed food logic (I’m the sort of person who actually keeps their eyes peeled for a nice red sugar segment on the supermarket calorie wheel).
With this in mind, I want to talk you quickly through my non-dairy flapjack recipe. Living with two vegans (Scott isn’t one of them before you start thinking of me as some sort of monstrous pudding pusher), I have been dabbling with this genre of late. With varying degrees of success.
I concocted a peanut butter pie a while ago that involved something called silken tofu. Although the result was quite pleasing, and surprisingly rich, the process was not as enjoyably decadent as the name might suggest. Calling it ‘silken’ tofu is a bit like calling mouldy fruit an ‘angora orange.’ I think even the most admirably eco-friendly, scratchy-jumper-wearing vegan would agree that this sloppy, ambiguous food matter is anything but luxurious. And baking just isn’t quite as fun when you have to hold the mixture at arm’s length while you stir because the tofu, despite being completely devoid of colour or taste, has a pungent smell which is, ironically, a bit like rotting flesh.
This isn’t a problem with a nice vegan flapjack though. Effectively how I like to have my porridge in the morning, the sticky mixture is very tasty uncooked. Along with crumble, I think flapjack is a pudding that lends itself nicely to vegan cooking.
It’s also really easy.
All you need is a tub of soya margarine, caster sugar and oats.
– Melt the margarine (about 170g) in a pan, then stir in about 170g of caster sugar and 225g of porridge oats. Don’t worry too much about measurements, just make sure it’s sweet enough. I’m serious: flapjack often isn’t and pudding that tastes like it came from a health food shop simply will not do.
– Then spread the mixture out over a baking tray lined with grease proof paper or foil.
– Pop in the oven for about 25 minutes and then wait for it cool before you dig in.
Now I have two warnings about this recipe.
One: Don’t use golden syrup as a substitute for sugar as for some reason this tends to make the bottom burn. There’s no silence more awkward than one punctuated by occasional crunches as dinner guests attempt to scrape the top layer of non-carcinogenic flapjack off with their teeth.
Two: Don’t eat your own weight in flapjack if you intend to get anything done within the next couple of hours. It’s the equivalent of drinking a vat of Horlicks and then expecting to hit the town rather than the hay.