‘Oats – a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland, supports the people’
(Dr. Samuel Johnson – dictionary compiler extraordinaire 1755)
My first memory of porridge was sitting in a neighbour’s house while they lovingly poured it into bowl. he put liberal amounts of salt into his and she dolloped a liberal spoonful of syrup onto hers. They asked me what I would like – I looked at the beige mass in my little dish ( I was four at the time) and pointed at the syrup. I dallied with the bits of slop nearest the syrup and managed enough to get a brownie point for trying and not making a fuss – I vowed never to have anything to do with oats again at any costs.
How times change! I guess it was in the 70s when cooking large batches of tempting goodies for three boys that I discovered recipes for flapjacks which obviously go a long way and could even be deemed a ‘healthy option’ I re-modelled the basic recipe and began using jumbo oats ( give a better, less dense texture) and various more wholesome sugars and seeds. Love affair with oats was in the budding stage.
Years later and no boys at home to be fed, I dug out a few recipes and started playing around. My aim was to make an oatcake that tasted great – could be eaten alone or with cheese or whatever else I wanted. My ideal was something slightly crumbly but at the same time firm. My initial attempts produced bullet-textured rounds of a deep brown shade. I woman-fully ate through them but can’t say they were a pleasure. Others were nearer the texture but didn’t seem to taste of anything wholesome and nourishing. I wanted oatckes with that ‘come again’ factor – the kind that made you want to eat ‘just one more’
Here is the recipe! You will see that these oatcakes are a mix of spelt flour and oatmeal – I believe it is this combination which makes them so delicious. The addition of a little milk, rather than the usual frugal water gives them a slight softness and chewiness which I love.
Bakesy’s favourite oatcakes
250g spelt flour
250g salted butter (softened)
125g soft light brown sugar ( use less if you think this is too sweet)
1 generous tsp baking powder
Set the oven at 180c/350F/gas mark4
Mix the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. There is no need to do more than break down the butter a little. Now add the rest of the ingredients and mix together until they are all blended. This will be a rather coarse lumpy dough-like consistency. Add the milk and work together with your hands – you may need a little more, but add in drops as you don’t want the dough to be too sloppy.
Take the dough out of the bowl and roll it into a sausage shape. Cover it in clingfilm ( what did people use before this was invented?) and allow it to chill for 30 mins.
Prepare 3 baking trays. I use non-stick parchment as it saves tears when lifting precious items from the tray and seeing them crumble into dust!
Slice the ‘sausage’ into rounds with a very sharp knife (taking the usual precautions!). I like to gently roll the little circles to fit either a 2″ or a 3″ cutter, depending on what I want to use the oatcakes for.
Arrange the jolly little rings of oaty goodness on a baking sheet – they don’t spread much in baking. Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown on the bottom. Turn them over and repeat the process. I tend to bake a bit longer if they don’t brown, rather than turn up the oven (temptation is always there) as this might burn them!
Allow to cool slightly and then transfer to a wire rack. Store in an airtight container and they will last as long as you need them for sure! -assuming you are a normal human being with an appetite for the delicious!