Since its been Burns night this week, I thought I should bring you something particularly Scottish, and what better than the humble oatcake? (It was that or something deep fried, and I’m not one to live up to stereotypes). It is after all, one of the best savoury snacks.
While you’re making these, why not listen to Brian Cox or Karen Dunabr reciting Tam o’ Shanter – a wee bit of an apocalyptic vision in the middle, and Burns gives a good wee moral at the end, should ever you find yourself in trouble and without either a noble steed such as Meg, or an apocalypse saving recipe: ‘It may be proper likewise to mention to the benighted traveller, that when he falls in with bogles, whatever danger may be in his going forward, there is much more hazard in turning back.’
I’ve never made oatcakes before, but I don’t know why, they have an elegant simplicity to them that punches well above their weight. They are also very easy to make – I started at 12.30 and they were ready for a 1 o’clock lunch. These particular oatcakes, studded with dried cranberries, are particularly good. They aren’t too dry and crumbly, and the occasional cranberry through the oaty mix brings a hint of sweetness. As a result, the oatcakes are good enough to eat alone, but I do recommend trying them with a bit of cheese and maybe some ham. And, of course, a wee dram.
Recipe from BBC Good Food
225g oatmeal , plus extra for dusting
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
25g dried, sweetened cranberries , roughly chopped
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1) Measure out oats, cranberries, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl and mix.
2) Heat butter and water in a pan until the butter has melted.
3) Make a well in the middle of the oat mix and pour in the melted butter/water mix.
4) Stir with a knife to bring the mix together. I then added about 10 more ml of water to bring the dough together properly as it was too dry. The dough should be stiff, with a little give. Taste it at this point to see if it is what you are after – it should just be like porridge.
5) Dust a work surface with oatmeal, and then roll out the oaty dough to about 5mm thick. I originally thought this would be far too thick and stodgy for an oatcake, but it works very well – any thinner and it would probably crumble and break apart. Cut out circles from the dough with a cookie cutter, or in my case, an upturned glass. Alternatively, cut with a knife into squares.
6) Place cut oatcakes onto a baking tray covered with parchment paper. Cook at 180C, 160 fan for 20 minutes. Turn the oatcakes every 5 minutes whilst cooking, so that both sides dry evenly. If you don’t you’ll get stodgy, steamed cakes – nae very pleasant! When cooked they should be slightly golden.