On one meeting with friends when we visited the UK in November, my son got all excited about the oatcakes she had. Oatcakes were something I grew up having around but I didn’t get in to them until I was relatively old. Even then, not to the point that I would actively buy them. Yet here was my two year old gobbling down a ‘circle cookie’ and asking for another. I mentally took a note that I must try to make them soon since something as relatively healthy as oatcakes being called a cookie was definitely worth repeating. It has taken me a little time to get round to it, but as it is soon to be Burns night, it’s my prompt to get in to the Scottish spirit.
What are oatcakes?
For people not aware of oatcakes, they are, like so many British foods, one that has a name that doesn’t bear that much relation to what they are. Yes, they are made with oats, but they are not a cake nor even sweet. The best description is an oat-based cracker. They are quite dry and can be a little crumbly, but they make a tasty healthy snack. They are also particularly good topped with cheese or pate as part of a light lunch or for canapés. I like them with a sharp cheddar or a favorite Scottish cheese called Caboc that is really buttery and coated in oatmeal, which my mum now gets especially when we visit as I can’t get it here.
How they’re made
Oatcakes only have a few ingredients and don’t take long to make. The dough might seem a bit crumbly when you take it out of the bowl, but it actually rolls out very easily. The one thing I would note is that these are made with what is sometimes called pinhead oatmeal rather than rolled oats. I managed to find some in my local supermarket in their British ethnic section (it feels a bit odd being considered an ethnic group!) so hopefully you can find it OK. If not, steel cut is very similar, if not the same.
I am sure part of why my son gobbled them down the first time was that my friend’s son was having an oatcake, which always makes food more tempting in toddler eyes (if you can feel like you are taking someone else’s food it always tastes better). But when I made these at home he came back and asked for more so it obviously wasn’t a one time thing. Passing the toddler taste test is always a good thing, and it’s one we like too. They are so quick and easy to make, I will definitely be making them again. And not just for the upcoming Burns night, which I tell you more about here. I hope you try these tasty oatcakes and enjoy a bit of my homeland.
- 4oz/115g oatmeal ('pinhead oatmeal')
- ¼ cup/ 1¼ oz/ 35g wholemeal flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tbsp/ 15g unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp water
- Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.
- In a bowl, mix together the oatmeal, flour, salt and baking soda.
- Cut up the butter and rub it in to the oatmeal-flour mixture so it is broken up and mixed through.
- Add the water and mix together and form into a ball.
- Lightly flour a surface and a rolling pin and roll out the mixture to around 3-5mm/0.1 - 0.2in thick.
- Cut circles out of the dough and place on a baking sheet/tray and bake for approx 15-20mins until they are dry, slightly firm and lightly golden.