Oatcakes are a dry tasting cracker – no sugar, and only a hint of salt. They are a quintessentially Scottish item, marketed for years, and popularized by Nairn’s who have branched out and now do a dozen or more varieties. They have been a favorite in my birth family for decades, though I’m the only one in my current family that really appreciates thm.
This recipe is based on the ingredient list of the Nairn’s Oatcake box, no more and no less. I decied to try a combination of oat flour and finely ground oats, in the end settling for a 2:1 combination of oat flour to oats. In experimenting with the salt – I believe it ought to be 4% of the oats/flour mix, though 3% works well too. If you are experimenting, the 1% change in salt makes a huge difference. The water should be 60% of the flour. Making it 60% of the whole dry mix weight makes the initial dough too wet.
Finally rolling out and cooking: Ideally crakers of about 10g each are desirable. I’ve gone from a 450 degree oven to 500 – they are dense and so take a surprising amount of time to cook.
To start off with, heat your oven to 500. You will be able to do all the rest while it is heating.
200g oat flour
12 g salt (4% of dry ingredients)
30g oil (10% of dry ingredients)
Mix dry ingredients, then oil, and finally water.
knead until pliable dough us formed.
roll out until thin
cut with a mason jar lid
Brush cookie tray with oil
bake 12 minutes or until slightly browned. (the browning is crucial to the success of the recipe!)
allow to cool.
And some discussion….
Looking in Reliable Cookery, my 1906 Scottish home economics textbook, there is a recipe for oatcakes also. It is as follows:
1/2 lb oatmeal
1/2 tsp salt
pinch baking soda
2 tsp bacon fat or dripping
hot water to mix
heat the griddle
mix dry ingredients, make a well
pour in dripping, and enough hot water to make a soft mixture & knead thoroughly
roll out as thinly as possible, rub with meal and cut
bake on top of moderately hot griddle until cakes curl up at edges, do not turn.
Toast until slightly brown.
So its not a dissimilar approach, in some ways. At the point in writing I have not converted the volumes to weights to discover how near or far this is. Using straight oats (no oat flour) and the use of hot water is different, and really a stove top griddle is not that hugely different than a very hot oven. The oil used to cook it bears some looking into. In mine the sunflower oil serves to give some body and protein. In this, the fat would contribute salt and flavour. I’m wondering how melted butter would do.
I’m quite happy with my modern day result. I’m the only one in the family enamoured with these plain salt of the earth crackers. I’m hardly expecting oooohs and aaahhs – chances are I will be the only one consuming them. And somehow I think I won’t be making much of a dent in Nairn’s international oatcake sales. I will appreciate having these as one more healthy snack alternative around the house.