Orange and Dark Chocolate Flapjack

This delicious flapjack is a lovely alternative to mincepies – and so much easier to make.  It might seem a little unusual as the recipe calls for two whole boiled oranges, but the fruit in this flapjack gives it a fantastic flavour and a moist, chewy texture.

This recipe grew out of the healthy energy bars I developed for Hodmedod’s.  I’m a real fan of these energy bars and so I’m always experimenting with different flavours.  This is a little bit more decadent (look out for a super healthy version in January!) as it includes some brown sugar rather than the usual apple juice concentrate.  

When I first developed the recipe I used cut mixed peel, but then I discovered some Italian glacé orange peel (at Morrisons) which is really special and adds an extra tang to the recipe.  Surprisingly, cheap supermarket 50% cocoa solids tastes better than a hight percentage cocoa solids dark chocolate.  It was want to push the boat out, buy some orange-flavoured dark chocolate (or add a splash of Cointreau to plain dark chocolate).  Melt this and drizzle over the flapjack.

I’ve made it using naked barley flakes and quinoa puffs which I get from Hodmedod’s.  You can make this vegan-friendly by ensuring that you use chocolate that is suitable for vegans and by greasing the cake tin with a suitable alternative to butter (I like to use TREX).  Also, you can make it gluten free by substituting gluten-free oats for the naked barley flakes – although I’m a particular fan of the texture imparted by the barley.

The recipe makes 9 extremely generous portions.  But you can vary the size by cutting it into 12 or even 18 smaller slices.  It freezes well,  just cut into individual portions and wrap with clingfilm.

Orange & Dark Chocolate Flapjack

Makes 9 generous portions

  • 2 medium-sized oranges (about 350g-400g uncooked weight)
  • 1 ripe medium-sized banana
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 100g soft light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • 150g naked barley flakes
  • 50g quinoa puffs
  • 50g Italien glacé orange peel (or good quality chopped mixed peel)
  • 50g dark chocolate (this works well with 50% cocoa solids)
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • small amount of butter and baking parchment to base line the baking tin 


Place the oranges into a small saucepan.  Cover with water and bring to the boil.  Cover with a lid and simmer for 40 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, pre-heat the over to 160ºC/GM3. Grease and baseline a 20cm square, loose-bottomed, shallow cake tin.

Cut the oranges into sections and remove any pips.  Process to a purée in a food processor.

Mash the banana in a large bowl.  Stir in the orange pulp, oil, sugar and orange extract, mixing well.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well mixed.  Spoon into the prepared cake tin; firm down and level the surface.

Put in the over for about 50 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch.  Leave to cool in the tin.  Cut into 9 portions.

No printer-friendly version on this occasion, I’m afraid.  Wordpress have up-dated their system and I can’t work out how to upload a PDF version of the recipe!  I’ll add this as soon as I’ve got to grips with the technology.  Don’t let it deter you from trying this recipe though – it really is one of my star bakes. 

Tote Bag Designs

peas-bagReally pleased to receive samples of these tote bags I’d designed and illustrated for Hodmedod’s recently.

I’ve been producing illustrations and lettering for this lovely company for a while – but this is a departure in terms of simplicity of style.

Inspiration for the designs came from the beans and peas that I’ve grown to use as reference for the watercolour illustrations I do for the Hodmedod’s packaging.


beans-bagThe tote bags, which are printed on both sides and are made with a gusset, can be bought direct from Hodmedod’s.

Spelt Flour Carrot Cake

Sharpham Park Spelt Flour by Carol KearnsWriting for my Norfolk Magazine The Art of Baking column I’ve been making quite a few cakes recently. It’s reminded me how quick and easy it is to bake a cake – and how much people appreciate a slice of home baked cake!

I recently went to a planning meeting with the lovely folk at Hodmedod’s. It was the first time that the designer and I had visited Hodmedod’s in their new premises in Halesworth and to celebrate the occasion I took along a carrot cake. Knowing that one of the people avoided ordinary flour, even wholewheat, but ate spelt flour, I got to work adapting the recipe. I used Sharpham Park’s wholegrain spelt flour and found that by increasing the flour in the recipe to 150g and (as the spelt flour has no raising agent) upping the baking powder to 2.5 tsp, it worked wonderfully. I’m pleased to say that the cake was pronounced ‘surpurb’!

You can give it a try yourself as the EDP Norfolk Magazine are featuring the Carrot Cake recipe online this month. If you’re going for the spelt flour option, make sure you use the wholegrain version and adjust the amounts as suggested above.

Next month’s recipe is a heavenly Cherry and Almond Cake – just right for afternoon tea sitting out in the garden….

Interested in Bookbinding?

Handmade Book with Marbled Endpapers by Carol Kearns
Spaces are still available on my handmade book workshop on 24th February at The Workhouse in Harleston. To book a place go to Book a Course.

Simple BooksWe start the day by looking at how simple a book can be, drawing on easy to find examples. You will then be guided through the techniques for making a traditional hard-covered multi-section book, all without the need for specialist equipment, so you can continue using your newly acquired skills to make your own books at home.

Fine materials will be used for making the books Bookclothincluding 180gsm lightly textured acid free paper for the book blocks, hand marbled paper for the endpapers and beautifully coloured bookbinding cloth for the covers so that your finished book will be lovely to look at, handle and use for writing, sketching, light washes and gouache.

No previous experience is needed and by the end of the day you will have made your own beautiful handmade book like the ones below or at the top of this page.
Handmade Books with Marbled Endpapers by Carol Kearns

The Quinoa Fields of Essex

© Hodmedod Ltd
© Hodmedod Ltd
Had a trip down to Hodmedod’s Bean Store earlier in the week. Lovely chance to catch up with Nick and Josiah, who also provided a yummy lunch – a tasty salad featuring Black Badger Beans, of course! As well as getting to see the new warehouse, I saw the quinoa packs and their labels for the first time.
Nick & Josiah in the Quinoa Crop
Although Hodmedod’s always provide me with samples of each of the products that I illustrate for them, it’s always good to see how the lettering and illustrations work on the final label as it sits on the product. I have to say, I’m especially pleased with this one. Bunch of Quinoa

Although I’d eaten quinoa – and even knew how to pronounce it! – I had absolutely no idea what it looked like when growing, so requested a field trip to see the crop down in Essex. While N&J studied the crop, I went around taking lots of photos and picking some of the most eye-catching coloured seedheads to take home so that they would be available over a number of days while I was drawing and painting them.
Quinoa New Rough

As ever, the design starts with the layout out of the lettering by the designer, Andy, and then I put together a rough for the illustration. It was surprisingly difficult to capture the look of the quinoa and took several attempts before I was happy with the results. I did have fun with the hand rendering of the letter ‘Q’ for the design though, sending across a number for Andy to choose from. My favourite was the one on the left in the image, so I was pleased to see that that was the one which was chosen for the label.
Q is for Quinoa

And finally, the grain of quinoa in the ‘just rinse and cook’ roundel… My magnifying glass wasn’t strong enough to provide a high enough definition to draw from. I had previously ‘enlarged’ things by photographing them as my camera has a 18x zoom. However, even that wasn’t large enough. In the end, I put a large version of a photograph up on my computer screen, placed a magnifying glass in front of that, and then took a photograph of the super-duper enlarged grain. They say necessity is the mother of invention…
Quinoa Grain