Scottish Oatcakes--Traditional Recipe
Aye ... We'll Have a Wee Bite, We Will ...
Serve Delicious Oatcakes Thick or Thin, Warm or Cold, Plain or Fancied up
Tired of the same-old, same-old for breakfast? When you are looking for something a little different, why not serve up a batch of Scottish oatcakes?
Warm oatcakes, slathered with butter and served with hot syrup are satisfying and filling. What a way to put "hearty" back into breakfast.
While they are delicious eaten warm, oatcakes can also be served cold. You can make them thick so they are soft and wholesome or roll them thin so that they are slightly crispy. You can add maple flavoring or cinnamon or even add nuts.
In this hub, I give a recipe for a sweeter oatcake and a recipe for a plain oatcake (which would go well with supper dishes), I've included videos to help readers get a feel for making Scottish-style oatcakes and traditional oatcakes from a Scottish recipe. Whatever your preference and however you serve them, oatcakes--whether modern variations or the traditional Scottish oatcakes-- are a welcome and different addition to the menu.
Before we get to the recipe, though, let's learn a little more about Scottish Oatcakes.
It is said that Queen Elizabeth eats oatcakes for her breakfast.
A Historical Look at Scottish Oatcakes
While not as common in North America, oatcakes have for centuries been considered Scotland's national bread. They can be served in different ways but one of the main ingredients is, of course, oats. This differentiates them from breads made with flour that is used as the main ingredient.
Oatcakes were and usually are prepared either on a griddle or baked in the oven. Much depends on preference. Oatcakes could/can be round or sliced into pie-shaped pieces as shown in the photo (or, as I've done, oatcakes can be cooked in a rectangular pan and sliced into squares).
Why Scotland and why oatcakes? Oats were one of the few grain crops that grew well in Scotland, so it is not surprising that oats formed the mainstay of many traditional Scottish dishes and became such a part of the diet.
In a country that loves its oatmeal, it is not surprising that the enterprising Scots came up with different ways to incorporate oats into their daily diet. The rest of the world is glad they did! If you are not a fan of cooked oatmeal, oatcakes offer a tasty alternative.
Ingredients Determine Richness
- Many recipes for oatcakes call for shortening but I've found that butter yields a richer flavor.
- Adding brown sugar can also impart a nice flavor, if you prefer something a little sweeter.
- Adding spices also bumps up flavor.
Delicious Golden Oatcakes Fresh From the Oven--a Delightful Combo of Crispy and Soft
How Were Oatcakes Served?
As touched on, oatcakes were a staple and were traditionally eaten with every meal, much like we in the Americas eat bread as our staple food. Oatcakes delivered carbohydrates and were eaten with soup or served with meat or fish.
Scottish immigrants to the New World brought their recipes for their beloved oatcakes with them and thus introduced this food to others. Canadians and Americans have benefited from this exchange.
While not eaten with every meal, as was and is done in Scotland, oatcakes are still enjoyed today either as a round cake with butter (more like a bread) or eaten as a sweet tea wafer, depending on the recipe.
Did You Know? When You Eat Oats, You Are Eating a Whole Grain
Oats come out of the package and are still 100% percent whole grain.
This means that when you cook with oats, you are using the entire edible part of the grain: germ, endosperm and nutrient-rich bran.
Why eat nutritionally inferior refined grains when oats deliver so much more from a nutritional standpoint?
Scottish Oatcakes Recipe
- 5 cups oatmeal
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2-1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2-1 cup lard or butter
Combine dry ingredients. Mix in lard or butter until mixture is crumbly.
Add 1/2-1 cup water.
Sprinkle water over mixed ingredients and work mixture well with hands until a ball forms.
Oatcake Dough Worked Until a Ball Forms
Press oatcake dough into a greased large flat pan and roll out until mixture is 1/2-1" thick. I use a floured glass to roll out dough.
Rolled Out Oatcake Dough in Pan
Bake in a 325 degree oven until golden brown.
Oatcakes Fresh From the Oven
Serve warm oatcakes with hot syrup.
Hot Syrup for Scottish Oatcakes
While you can make oatcakes and top them with butter and jam, they are particularly good with hot syrup. Hot syrup can be made in in minutes and tastes delicious. You can make it thick or thin, depending on your preference.
Recipe for Hot Syrup
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 3/4 cup water
Boil 5 minutes, add: 2 tbsp. butter
Hot Syrup with Maple Flavoring
After combining brown sugar and water, boil 5 minutes and add:
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1-2 tbsp maple flavoring
Hot Syrup With Vanilla Flavoring
After combining brown sugar and water,
Boil 5 minutes and add 1-2 tsp vanilla
Increase or reduce water amounts to achieve desired thickness or thinness of syrup.
Golden Brown Scottish Oatcakes--Buttery-Tasting and Filling
Making Thin Maple-Flavored Oatcakes
Once you've tried the thicker oatcakes, you may find you are hooked! It can be fun to experiment with ways of making them--and this is a great way to get your family members to eat more whole grains.
Maple flavored oatcakes are a perfect accompaniment to tea. Think: slightly crispy, maple-flavored tea cakes.
- Prepare oat cake recipe and add 1-2 capfuls of maple flavoring
- Substitute butter for lard
- Roll out very thin on a buttered cookie sheet
- Add chopped walnuts (optional)
These will bake up delightfully crispy. Serve cold and spread with butter. Perfect with coffee or tea.
If making thin oatcakes, cut them into squares or diamonds before cooking in oven, so that they don't break later when cutting.
Slice Before Cooking
Recipe II: Scottish Oatcakes
- 4 cups oatmeal
- 4 tbsp. shortening
- 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- Mix thoroughly, then add enough milk to make a soft dough
- Roll out until very thin on a lightly floured board
- Cut into squares or strips
- Brown lightly in oven
These oatcakes are sometimes served with meat or cheese.
If you opt to forego using animal fats such as butter, you could try using coconut oil in your oatcakes
I've made oatcakes using olive oil and find this is actually easier. Mixing time was reduced.
How to Eat Oatcakes
Good as a...
as a tea cake
with butter & hot syrup
as a breakfast bread
with butter and honey
for a snack
Do You Like Scottish Oatcakes?
Do you like Scottish Oatcakes?
- 64% Yes
- 0% No
- 7% I like mine warm
- 0% I like mine cold
- 29% I like mine with tea
Cinnamon makes a nice addition to oatcakes.
If you like the look of triangular oatcakes as shown in the photo at the top of this article a glass pie plate is ideal. Oatcakes won't stick and can be easily cut later. I would suggest using a larger glass pie pan, such as 10".
Cold as a Breakfast Bread
While I enjoy oatcakes warm, I also like to make a large batch and then freeze them. This makes a tasty and different breakfast bread. The oatcakes can be eaten plain or spread with a little butter.
An Oatcake for Every Preference
I hope you've enjoyed this sojourn into the world of oatcakes and you come away with an increased appreciation for this wholesome and humble grain. We can thank our Scottish forebears for their love of and cultivation of oats.
© 2008 Athlyn Green