Fine Fettle Flapjacks

12 Jan 2014


Fact: Flapjacks put you in fine fettle.

I can explain. During the time that we were building our own little nest on the farm, we took up residence in the nearby village of Adare, County Limerick. Adare, which in Irish is: Áth Dara, meaning “ford of [the] oak” is a precious little town with a population of about twenty four hundred and is regarded as one of Ireland’s prettiest villages. At the time, it had championed the “Tidy Town” award for five years running and it was easy to see why. To me, Adare village looked and felt like a scene out of medieval times; which, from my urban American point-of-view, proved to be a simultaneously charming and somewhat tricky territory to settle into at that moment in time.

If you strolled the village from top-to-tail in 2006, you would find two spectacular stone cloistered churches built in the 13th century, one petite corner grocery store whose clerk was the face of my stern second-grade teacher, a fish-n-chipper called the Pink Potato, a string of pubs seemingly all owned by one (Collins) family, two quiet fine dining restaurants, a Chinese takeaway that once charged me 5 euro for a side of soy sauce, a filling station with an unusually popular deli counter, a perfect little café. Turf smoke hung in the air over riverbank castle ruins, an itty-bitty post office that closed for two hours every afternoon, a friendly pharmacy with a glowing green cross on its facade, a row of thatched-roof cottages, a small library, the bank, a handful of B&B’s and two estate hotels once inhabited by Lords and Ladies.


By now you are wondering what this post has to do with a stack of flapjacks. I mentioned a perfect little café. About two blocks from our little bolthole was Lloyd’s. Like most businesses in Adare, Lloyd’s Café was a family-run venture. Small, quaint; a tiny dining room with 4-5 small wooden tables inside and 2 tables outside for when the weather was cooperating.  The simple menu was chalked onto a board daily and consisted of just breakfast and lunch.  A hearty full Irish, buttery scrambled eggs with a pinch of curry powder (the BEST), velvety soups, stews, sandwiches, salads, cakes, scones, and, most importantly, the only good coffee in town. It was one of those buzzy little places filled with excellent food and chatty locals, and if you stayed long enough you could file the village’s full gossip report upon your departure.


One day after ducking in for a quick lunch, I made my way up to the cash register to pay the bill.

“Would you like anything else?”

I pointed to the large glass cookie jar next to the till, “Em, sure, may I have two of these gorgeous looking granola bars please?”

“Two Flapjacks for takeaway?”

Puzzled, “Oh, no, no, the granola bars in the cookie jar.”

“Those yokes? They are flapjacks”

“Wait, what? Flapjacks are pancakes in America.”

With that lilting Irish irony, “Well, Flapjacks are Flapjacks in Ireland.”


She grinned, “Really. And sure, they’ll put you in fine fettle.

Eventually I figured out that flapjacks are not flapjacks, but yet they are flapjacks, and they are considered a healthy treat in this neck of the woods. I learned that “fine fettle” means to be in good health or good humor, and ended up taking home three flapjacks (combination embarrassment + pregnancy clause.) They were devoured before the end of the day.

I had eaten my weight in them before I figured out that they were basically bars of butter, golden syrup (like corn syrup), and rolled oats. Not exactly a recipe for health. So, now that we live on the farm and have our own honey, I DIY swapping out the golden syrup for honey and adding nuts, seeds, fruits, and various healthy grains to the mix. They are a versatile snack to nibble with tea, after feeding calves or a run, and super fantastic for the lunchbox. We are butter lovers, but you can swap coconut oil, sunflower oil or nut butter for the butter for a dairy-free version.



However you proceed, I can promise that they sure will put you in fine fettle. Here is my favorite recipe which is packed with healthy grains and boasts the perfect balance of chew + crunch. Delicious!

Oat-Millet-Chia-Banana Flapjacks


6 tbsp / 1/3 cup raw honey

200g / 3/4 cup unsalted butter

1 medium ripe/soft banana, mashed

1 tsp cinnamon

Pinch of sea salt

330g / 2 cups organic porridge oats

115g/1 cup organic millet flakes

55g/1/2 cup chia seeds


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/Gas 4

2. Butter a 23cm x 33cm / 9″x 13″ Swiss roll tin and line the base with baking parchment.

3. Place the honey, butter, banana mash and cinnamon into a large saucepan and heat gently, stirring well until the butter has melted completely.

4. Put the oats, millet, chia seeds into a large mixing bowl, add a pinch of salt then pour over the butter and honey mixture and stir to coat the oats mixture.

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and spread evenly to fill the tin making sure the surface is even. Sprinkle a small handful of millet flakes over the top.

6. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven while the flapjack is still slightly soft, they will harden once cool.

7. Place the tin on a wire cooling rack, cut the flapjack into squares and leave in the tin until completely cool.

8. Try not to eat them all in one day!

Slan Abhaile,


Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell 2014

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34 Responses to “Fine Fettle Flapjacks”

  1. Grace says:

    In Canada I haven’t been able to find millet flakes but have found the flour, grits and the whole variety. I suppose the recipe needs flakes? And by porridge oats do you mean the large old-fashioned oat flakes?

  2. […] oil instead of butter. We are drooling over the version Imen McDonnell features on her blog, Farmette, and in her Irish cookbook, The Farmette […]

  3. Roisin says:

    Wow these really are good Imen, they’re just out of the oven and we’re scoffing them without delay;-) A fabulous January treat.

  4. […] laughed when I read Imen McDonnell’s flapjack story on her blog Farmette. As an American in Ireland she expected pancakes when offered flapjacks in an Irish […]

  5. Michelle says:

    Hi – I’m new to Irish Flapjacks and being in the States I’m not sure what our equivalent to porridge oats would be. Quick cooking, steel cut, rolled oats?
    Maybe you could enlighten me 🙂

  6. […] super-cute oat millet chia and banana flapjacks by American Ireland-based country […]

  7. […] call this blog because nothing quite fit. And then, I remembered a post by Imen at Farmette. She wrote a post about a granola bar keeping a person in fine fettle. That “fine fettle” phrase is what started […]

  8. […] as a child, my first encounter with a flapjack was a flapjack, so when I read about Imen‘s Fine Fettle Flapjacks, I knew exactly what she was talking about. I also immediately construed their magical ability to […]

  9. Sarah says:

    I’ve an amount of porridge oats to use up so I’m looking for great recipes and this looks like it will do the trick! Thank you.

  10. I love love this recipe, looks healthy and delicious. Thank you Imen, it is on my list.
    Best wishes xx

  11. […] A beautiful twist on pancakes is this recipe for Oat-Millet-Chia-Banana flapjacks. […]

  12. June says:

    Hi, I love a crunchy flapjack, would you recommend leaving out the banana and maybe adding more seeds? Many thanks ps love your blog. Xx

  13. […] to call this blog because nothing quite fit. And then, I remembered a post by Imen at Farmette. She wrote a post about a granola bar keeping a person in fine fettle. That “fine fettle” phrase is what […]

  14. Bookmarked your recipe to try later! Flapjacks=pancakes here in the USA!

  15. […] * These Irish flapjacks will put you in a fine fettle, too. […]

  16. Lindsey says:

    I’m planning a trip to Ireland and stumbled upon your blog! I will now be 1) making these flapjacks 2) visiting Adare, and 3) looking forward to your cookbook!

    Were you ever temped to post more about your favorite places in Ireland I can tell you I think we’d all be interested to read them!

  17. Parisbug says:

    How did I not see you tweet about these?! Oh the day I discovered these when we were living in London–love at first bite! Then my professional picture framing teacher in Paris (who was British) made them for our tea breaks in class–was like going from middle school romance to full blown college love! Heh. Love your implementation of nutritious goodies into them and the use of your homegrown honey? Lucky duck. xx

  18. Anne Mc Donagh says:

    It’s minus 10 C in DC this morning and few fettles are in fine form in this frigid weather! Think I’ll bake some fine fettley flapjacks this evening – I feel warmer just thinknig about it 🙂

  19. molly yeh says:

    imen, i have just held on to every last word of this post! it is so cool to read about your first experiences in ireland!! i feel like i can relate on so many levels, right down to the tiny town post office that closes for a lunch break, and how these would be called bars here no matter how odd that feels… only your tiny town is so much more storybook than grand forks! (you can imagine… haha).

    keep these stories coming!!!


    • imen says:

      I used to write more about it Molly….going back now that I am writing my book and memories are flooding back…..thanks for the gracious compliment, really appreciate it. Hope you are staying warm xx

  20. Siobhan Delaney says:

    Look forward to making these, any idea of the calorie count? Thank you.

  21. Audra says:

    Gorgeous writing, gorgeous post- you took me straight back to Ireland. I enjoyed every little morsel ! I look forward to testing out the recipe – they may not keep the waistband in fine fettle but they’ll certainly contribute to fine spirits.

    • imen says:

      Thanks Audra! I love hearing that this took you straight back….you know how it is! I hope you try the flapjacks, let me know how you get on. Imen xx

  22. Ken McGuire says:

    That’ll give me something to do with the abundance of porridge stashed in the kitchen pre-Christmas. Very yum looking 🙂

  23. Lucy says:

    Lovely recipe – I’ll have to send onto the lady herself Anne – you know they’re in the milk market now on the weekends. I was over at theirs during Christmas. They’re all in flying form. I told them about your book!

  24. Heidrun says:

    Oh, that’s great. I bake it … I bake flapjakes and I would like to reblog your post with the recipe. Really! Is it okay for you?

    Thank you for sharing!

    Greetings by Heidrun from Augsburg

  25. I love to have a stack of flapjacks in the cake tin on the top shelf – always looking for new ingredients to incorporate alongside the butter and oats!

    • imen says:

      I am sure you do….everyone fell in love with millet..going to do an all-millet flake version too and see how we get on. See you soon darling! xx

  26. Asha@fsk says:

    Haha.. I am always amazed how the same names are not the same dishes across both sides of the Atlantic! Same for pancakes and biscuits!! Biscuits in US are scone like and for me they are always tea dippers 😀

    You make your own honey! That is awesome. I honestly think even if the quantities of fat may be high if the quality is good then it will indeed put one in a fine fettle 😉

    • imen says:

      I know, so fun to learn all the differences. Yes, we have honeybees and the honey can’t be beat! Next time you come to Ireland, you must visit Asha! x

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