Oatcakes

6 May

I brought oatcakes back from Scotland on my last visit home but I was really disappointed with the taste of them, they just didn’t taste like the oatcakes I remembered and when I looked on the packet I was amazed to see a string of incomprehensible stuff along with flavourings that, frankly have no right being in an oatcake. Oatcakes, in true Scottish style, are just oats, salt and water and made that way they are a delicious vehicle for all kinds of dips and cheeses. I used to make oatcakes for breakfast at home when I was a student but they were pretty rough, a bit dense not rolled out properly and cooked on the stove top in a crap frying pan. So I asked a friend of ours and gastronome, Peter, who makes the most delicious light and crisp oatcakes for his recipe. Peter described the process as following: simply empty the contents of a packet of porridge oats into a bowl, add water and mix to a dough, leave the dough to rest for half an hour before rolling out thinly then bake in the oven on a large flat baking sheet until golden and crisp. Cool then break into rough cakes.

With Peter’s instructions in my head I set out to make real Scottish oatcakes. The first thing to know is that there is a knack to getting the right consistency. The first batch I made were, by accident, perfect but the second batch was too wet so the dough was a nightmare to roll out and it took longer to bake. What you are aiming for is a dough that is as dry as you can get it whist still being kneadable and flexible enough to roll out. I don’t have quantities just start with the oats and add the water slowly until you have a good consistency. My only addition to Peter’s recipe is to add a little sesame oil, a hangover from my student days, and I still think it improves the texture and the flavour of the oatcakes.

* Oats
* salt
* warm water
* some sesame oil (optional)
Note when Peter first told me the recipe he forgot the say butter. In his cakes he adds butter but as they seem to work perfectly well without it I am reluctant to add it now when the cakes are so light and crisp  but by all means do if you want to experiment.

Put oats, salt and sesame oil in a bowl and add warm water slowly until the oats bind together. Knead lightly in the bowl then cover and leave to rest. On a scrubbed kitchen top scatter a little flour and put the ball of dough or a clump of dough, depending on how much you have made, on the surface and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough, keep turning and flouring to prevent sticking, and when thin enough either take the whole cake or slice into pieces and place on a baking tray. Bake at a warm oven 180c for about 15 minutes or until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Store in an airtight jar.

This recipe was originally posted on www.masdudiable.com on 6/5/2008.

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