Monday, November 20, 2006

Oatcakes



My mother tells a story of a friend of hers who offered to a young guest an oatcake topped with a portion of cheese. The cheese was consumed and the oatcake returned with the words

“That was very nice. And here’s yer wee bit of board back.”

I seem to eat a lot of oatcakes. They come wrapped up in little portable packets and they’re good for you. They should be incredibly easy to make too. But my previous attempts have been only partly successful. I think this is because the recipes I chose included flour in the ingredients. The more I thought about it the more I was inclined to discard the flour completely – along with the other alien ingredients I found in some recipes (what on earth is brown sugar doing in an oatcake recipe?).

There’s a good Health Food shop near me, small and insignificant, but it keeps a great range. From them I can buy three grades of oatmeal, fine, medium and coarse. I decided to try a combination of the three. I also decided to include some butter for flavour, along with lard, for shortness.

I’m really pleased with the result, and this is, more or less, what I’m going to be making from now on. They are crisp, with a good, slightly savoury, flavour.

Ingredients

250g oatmeal – a combination of coarse (1/3), medium (1/2), and a little fine (to fill in the gaps!)

Large pinch salt

¼ tsp baking powder

½ tbsp butter, melted with

½ tbsp lard

200ml recently boiled (ie hot) water in a jug

More fine oatmeal for dusting work surface

Method

Preheat oven to 200ºC

Put dry ingredients in a bowl and stir to incorporate

Make a well and add butter/lard

Add enough of the hot water to make a stiff dough

Dust work surface with fine oatmeal

Roll out as thin as possible

Cut into rounds, or triangles

Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for about 15 minutes, until the edges are just turning brown. Do not let them cook until they are browning in the middle – they will taste overdone.

Cool on a wire rack.

If you can’t get the three different grades of oatmeal, use what you can get, or try some porridge oats (not instant). Just don’t use flour!

17 comments:

Susan in Italy said...

Oat cakes sound really nice, I'll try them soon. I also tried the no-knead bread recipe with the sourdough starter and am sad to say I took the "so liquidy you can't knead it" description in the Times too seriously and ended up with a sort of focaccia. Edible but not ideal and certainly not as pretty as your 2 tries. Have you done this with sourdough?

ChrisB said...

My mother eats a lot of oatcakes but I have not considered making them. I usually buy her organic ones a case at a time from the food co-op. After your success I might try baking them for her instead so thank you for the idea.

June said...

Hi Susan
I haven't got a sourdough on the go at the moment - will have to wait until inspiration strikes - but I think the under cover method should work with it. Sorry you had a bit of a puddle! I'm sure it will work better next time.

Hi Chris
I'll be really interested to hear how they turn out, as you seem to be an excellent baker.

lindy said...

Ack. A possibly senseless question concering oatmeal:

Are these oats rolled or pinhead type oats, assuming these categories have anything to do with the sort of oatmeal you are talking about??

Or is this one of those international nomenclature dilemmas again?

June said...

Lindy
Aaaah yes, you are so right. These oats are pinhead, in different grades ie little bits of cracked oats that look like couscous or semolina. They will make oatcakes that snap.

The rolled ones are flat and mainly used to make porridge. BUT you can also use some rolled oats in the recipe if you like, for a different texture. I often use them in shortbread for a flaky finish.

Anonymous said...

Hello June,

You picture your oat cakes with cheese. I was just wondering: With what else are they eaten traditionally? I still intend to make them. The ingredients are so basic and so wholesome.

Summer

June said...

Hi Summer

You can use them in the same way as bread or crackers, and if you make little tiny ones they make good bases for canapés, with toppings like smoked salmon and sour cream. Don't make them up too far ahead of time though because they will get soggy. I like them with tapenade.

Anonymous said...

Thanks June

Summer

Jeanne said...

What a revelation oatcakes were the first time I tried them upon my arrival in this country in 2000! It was love at first bite and our relationship has stayed happy all these years. I usually buy Nairn's organic oatcakes, but I have to say it is tempting to have a bash at making my own (especially since I actually have some vegetable shortening knocking about in the fridge from a recent few-and-far-between baking day!). I have oatcakes for breakfast almost every morning, topped either with a slice of cheddar or s smear of good salted butter. Isn't it astonishing when it turns out you like something that's actually *good* for you?!

June said...

Hi Jeanne
If you like Nairn's organic oatcakes - my favourites of the boughten type too - I think you will like these. You can vary the texture with the different grades of oatmeal. Do try a little butter in the mix, I think it is worth it.

Anonymous said...

June thanks for your recipe I am going to try it out with my pre-school class tomorrow as we are celebrating Robert Burns day. In Scotland we like our oatcakes! I did a search and your page came up first. Thanks again and wish me luck!

Miss Swinley.

June said...

Hello Miss Swinley!

I do hope they work for your class! Just medium oatmeal works well if you have difficulty getting the different kinds.

When I arrived in Scotland from England my class had just learned the following 'poyum' which, parrot fashion, I learned too:
The bairnies cuddle doon at nicht
Wi muckle focht and din
Au try and sleep, ye waukrife bairns,
Yer faither's comin in.
They never heed a word ah say
Ah try tae gie a froon
But aye ah hae them up an sae
Oh bairnies, cuddle doon.

Burns was from the neighbourhood and the next 'poyum' was one of his - Tae a Mouse. With good lines such as 'The best laid schemes o mice and men gang aft agley, and lee us nought but grief and pain for promised joy.'

I'll be thinking of you!

Anonymous said...

I studied in the Uk and I used to be crazy for oatcakes. Unfortunately in my country we dont have any, so I have tried to make this one. Its really nice I added some black pepper and oragano to make it more meditteranean. Lovely.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the recipe! My mother was born in Fife - but I grew up in a British household in America. I love oatcakes and marmalade, and have found ONE new friend here in Vashon, WA, who likes them also. Years ago a male friend made a face when he tasted one, and said it made him think of something that comes off a horse's hoof. Poor soul.

Anyway, I probably can't get the right kinds of oats here, but I'll try the recipe using porridge oats, as you call them. I'm inviting my friend and her boyfriend from Scotland over for tea today. Ginger shortbread also!!

Anonymous said...

I tried with prridge oats and sunflower oil instead of butteror lard. I think they need to be with something else such as dried fruit or perhaps grated cheese

June said...

"I think they need to be with something else such as dried fruit or perhaps grated cheese"

You are at liberty to do what you like with the recipe, and if you want to put in dried fruit or cheese I'm sure it will be very interesting, but it won't be an oatcake.

Muesli perhaps, but not oatcake - sorry!

June said...

Maybe you think they are supposed to be like cookies, or scones. They aren't. This is the food of the poor and they didn't have raisins. Even eating them with cheese is taking them up up a notch from where they began life.
Do you put raisins in crackers? Same sort of thing.

 
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