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When baking something which needs to bind - like a (British) flapjack / cereal bar - I have mixed results when it comes to cutting it, even if I repeat the same recipe. Sometimes it binds really well, sometimes it's a crumbly mess, especially after cutting.

Apart from the obvious: a) pressing down hard and evenly before putting it in the oven and b) using enough binding agent (honey / syrup / fat), what other tricks are there?

e.g. Is it better to cut hot, warm or cold? Leaving it to go cold in its tray seems to work best, but my instinct and habit with all baking is try and get the item out of its tin/tray immediately and let it cool on a rack.

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I'm sorry for yet another tag debate but flapjack is dangerously localized; in the Americas it actually means something completely different (literally, it's a pancake). And, unfortunately, if a tag can be used incorrectly then it almost always will be. A (British) flapjack is essentially just a granola bar; I felt that [granola] was appropriate, however, I understand if you don't think it applies. If you're adamant about having a tag for this specific food, please try to think of one that isn't ambiguous. ([cereal-bar] would probably be fine) –  Aaronut Feb 7 '11 at 16:01
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Wait, flapjacks aren't pancakes in some places? –  Fake Name Feb 8 '11 at 9:56
    
OK, changed to cereal-bar. Agree that having a tag that's ambiguous is hopeless. Had no idea a flapjack was a pancake for some people. I'm not "adamant" about hyper-specific tags but [baking] and [knife-skills] aren't really describing the question. [oats] is good. –  Tea Drinker Feb 8 '11 at 10:56
    
@FakeName first result in google for "flapjack" is www.scottishrecipes.co.uk/flapjacks.htm, which is a flapjack as we know and love them in the UK. nothing like a pancake. –  Tea Drinker Feb 8 '11 at 11:00
    
Well, go to an IHOP (or really any restaurant in America), and order "Flapjacks" and you will get pancakes. –  Fake Name Feb 8 '11 at 11:48

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I suggest that you try to go against your habit! :) Cereal bars and the like don't really need to cool on a rack: just put the baking tray in your fridge when you're done baking the bars. That way they'll set much better, as the heated (and thus very soft) sugary components can cool down and firm up. You will find that it's much easier to cut the bars once they've been in the fridge for a while. It also helps a lot to use a sharp and wet knife when cutting. That way you will slide through the bars more easily and the bars won't stick to the blade of the knife.

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thanks ilonavg! –  Tea Drinker Feb 8 '11 at 11:06

Another option is to pre-cut the bars, before baking. You will still need to cut after, but the ingredients will have been cut through, making it easier and far less likely to crumble.

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