New contributor Anthony Smart delights in flapjacks created by two retired Devon ladies; they’ve turned Flapjackery into a £1 million business that has even attracted the attention of Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla Duchess of Cornwall
I was delighted to be provided with a rather unobtrusive box of delights recently by Matthew Steeples. His instructions were simple: “Please try these and write about them.”
The little box was furtively opened to reveal a sumptuous selection of what appeared to be flapjacks. “What is this Flapjackery?” I asked myself. Indeed, that’s exactly what it was. A box of handmade flapjacks sent to us by the two ladies at a firm named Flapjackery. How could I refuse?
“Fancy making a few flapjacks for some farmers’ markets?” was the question retired to Devon having run a print business Carol Myott, 62, asked former communications for the elderly turned fudge shop worker Sally Jenkin, 59, in 2015 at a street food festival in Exeter.
Out of this humble beginning, a flapjack empire that now employs 24 people was born. Their locally made golden, sticky wonders soon started to do rather well at the Devonshire farmers markets. Sally and Carol decided that there may well be a larger market for traditional, homestyle flapjacks. Not the pathetically generic industrial kitchen made pap from major supermarkets. No, the generously sized, densely sticky, rich treats we all remember our mothers making to wash down with a nice cup of Jacksons Earl Grey.
As I took the first oat-laden syrupy wonder from its individual wrapping, I was quite excited to read the words “Cherry Bakewell.” As a young whippersnapper, I used to enjoy demolishing Mr Kipling’s version of this British classic, whose advertising at the time suggested the man himself may have baked his exceedingly not so good cakes in his own haze-filtered, sun drenched country kitchen and put the cherries on top with love before sending it to me personally.
Of course, had I known the truth that Mr Kipling was purely a product of a London advertising agency’s creative department and in fact the insipid, dry, poor quality excuse for a cake was mass produced in a faceless factory somewhere up North, I would have cast the box aside and requested my mother produce something more like Flapjackery.
Seemingly, this is what has now happened. This flapjack version is what I imagine the real Mr Kipling would have made had he existed and decided to put it into flapjack form factor. This oozes with almond and delicated natural cherry flavour intertwined with buttery oats to create all of the elements of that fine cake in a convenient flapjack of fun. Delicious!
I should point out the size of these fine farmhouse fruits of labour is generous. I was already quite satiated after trying the first. In the interests of good food journalism though, I could not leave it there. Number two was the Salted Caramel variant.
It’s fair to say even without the lovely little labels on each flapjack, the flavours are so well defined that one does not need it to be labelled.
The first bite into Salted Caramel was that signature buttery, salty edge with a hint of toasted sugar that is so characteristic of a good salted caramel natural flavour. It’s very different from the chemically flavoured tosh of mainstream snackery.
The natural caramelisation of the sugar balances beautifully with just the right amount of salt to give a wonderfully sharp yet sweet mouthful. Again, the flapjack base and its generous butter infusion anchors the quite advanced flavours of the salted caramel to the flapjack signature base.
This was quite divine and I have to say the generously sized portion led me to finish my tasting session at this point. I know that Matthew and friends continued to sample the rest of the box, but I feel that these two flavours were fine examples of how seriously good Flapjackery products are.
Given the mess and hassle involved with hand making a basic flapjack, these superb ladies have taken the pain away and created a wonderful way to have a regular supply of interestingly flavoured jacks of Flap for all to enjoy via their shops across the South West, or even better – through their slick little website.
Do yourself a Sunday afternoon favour and acquire a selection box. Your guests will not be disappointed, though you may get through the entire box before they even arrive.
Pictured top: Sally Jenkin and Carol Myott, two ladies who’ve remarkably created a business out of a mutal love for baking which now has a turnover of well in excess of £1 million through both online and in-store retail sales.