BD is of Scottish stock, and oatcakes are a good Scottish biscuit. Commercial ones contain oils he can’t eat, so out came the recipes and the baking paraphernalia for another kitchen experiment.
Now, true Scottish oatcakes aren’t to everyone’s taste. Made without sugar, they can resemble cardboard, I agree…but we all know (even if we’re not admitting it) that sugar isn’t good for us, so I was determined to make these traditionally, without sugar. I prefer to save my recommended daily allowance of sugar for my tea and for my four squares of dark chocolate. But add spices – pepper, chili peppers, rosemary – and they become something special.
I went recipe hunting on the internet, focusing on British sources because, after all, they are a British biscuit. Between two of my favourite cooks, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage fame, and Nigella Lawson, I found two slightly different recipes, combined them, and here’s the result. You can play with this recipe a lot, as far as the spices go.
1 cup scots oats/porridge oats. (These are not rolled oats. They are more finely ground, but not oat flour either – somewhere in between. I found them at my local bulk food store, but you could make them in a good blender or food processor from rolled oats.)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/8 – 3/4 c just-stopped-boiling water (explanation below)
Any or all of these spices: (or others).
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp hot pepper flakes
1 -2 tsp rosemary
Pre-heat the oven to 375 F. Combine the oats and salt and spices in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the olive oil – and now is the tricky part – the very hot water. You want just enough to mix the oats into a cohesive but not sticky ball, and you need to do this quickly. The amount of water you use will vary with the texture of your oats. (I found with commercial Scots oats I needed about 1/3 c or just a bit more. You can always add a few more oats or oat flour if the mix is too wet, so err in that direction).
Roll out your oat mixture between two strips of parchment paper until it is very thin – about 1/8 inch if you can – and cut out rounds with a cookie cutter or a glass. Place on silicon baking sheets or parchment and bake for 10 minutes; flip them over, and bake for another 10.
Cool them completely before transferring to an air-tight tin. Personally, I freeze them: since they have almost no moisture in them, they thaw really quickly. Serve as a base for cheese, or just butter them, or – as I do – top with blueberries and (unsweetened) yogurt for a healthy snack or breakfast. (Reputedly Queen Elizabeth eats them for breakfast, too.) Of course, BD, for whom I made them in the first place, can’t eat any dairy products, so he eats them as is. He may be a braver man than I…then again, he is a Scot.