The North Staffordshire Oatcake
Have you heard of the North Staffordshire oatcake?
Unless you originate from, or have visited north Staffordshire in the English Midlands you have probably never heard of a British regional food called the North Staffordshire oatcake
Traditionally, there would have been shops all over the Potteries and North Staffordshire, where people would queue to buy their freshly cooked oatcakes, before taking them home to eat with breakfast, or to work for their snappin (Potteries dialect for the food you take to work with you).
It is a testament of the enduring popularity, that even in these days of the increased popularity of national supermarket chains and fast food outlets there are still somewhere in the region of forty oatcake shops in the North Staffordshire area.
The Staffordshire oatcake is not in fact a cake, in case you were wondering. Unlike its Scottish namesake, which is actually an oat biscuit, the Staffordshire oatcake is closer in resemblance to a pancake or its close neighbour, the Derbyshire oatcake.
As a Potteries expat living in Central America, I miss oatcakes with all my heart. I have embraced the Salvadoran pupusa, which comes close if I close my eyes while I'm eating and sing Robbie William songs at the same time, but it's not an oatcake!
Come with me as I take you on a culinary discovery of my all time favourite British regional food , the North Staffordshire oatcake.
History Of The Oatcake
The Staffordshire oatcake has iconic status in Stoke on Trent and across the north Staffordshire area.
Even today you will find around forty traditional oatcake shops still in production, as its popularity seems never waning.
Pamela Sambrook, is a Potter through and through, with an undying passion for oatcakes.
This book tells the story and social history of the Staffordshire oatcake, and is full of anecdotes and ideas for the perfect oatcake filling.
A must read book for anyone with a love of oatcakes and Staffordshire.
What Is A North Staffordshire Oatcake?
Originally a poor man's food, designed to make people feel full cheaply, the oatcake was a favourite amongst the pottery workers and miners in North Staffordshire, who used to take the local delicacy to work with them.
Made from a mix of oatmeal and water and cooked on a griddle, they are best eaten fresh, and some say they taste their best when they are still warm, fresh off the rack in the local oatcake shop.
Traditionally, people would queue up on a Sunday morning to buy a 1/2 dozen or a dozen of them to take home to eat with their full English breakfast.
Nowadays it is common to buy them ready filled, and as such they make the perfect fast food. Who needs a "Maccy D's" when such a delicious alternative is available?
There popularity is spreading, and you can even order them online and have them delivered to your house.
Have you ever tried them?
- 240 g (8.5 ounces) fine oatmeal
- 240 g (8.5 ounces) flour (wholewheat or plain)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 x 7g (1/4 ounce) sachet dried yeast
- 500 ml (1 pint) warm milk
- 500 ml (1 pint) warm water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 3 tablespoons warm milk for the final mix
- Mix the milk, water, yeast and sugar together
- Put this mix to one side in a warm place for a few minutes (it needs to froth)
- Mix together the flour, oatmeal and saltin a bowl.
- Add the frothed milk mixture to the dry mix
- Add the oil and whisk well
- Leave the mix to rise in warm place for about an hour
- After the mixture has risen, whisk again and add the 50 ml of warm milk.
- To cook, wipe a frying pan with oil and add a ladle of oatcake mix, and spread out in the pan (just like with pancakes)
- Cook on a high heat until the top bubbles and appears dry, then turn the oatcake over and cook the other side
- Cool on a cake rack