28 Feb 2010

It's official: I am now the queen of oatcakes

Why did I ever think making Scottish oatcakes would be difficult? There they are in the shops and markets, stacked mysteriously behind their various packaging, sometimes in spruced-up boxes and sometimes wrapped with simple cellophane and ribbon. Always golden and rustic and full of crumbly goodness. “There must be a secret,” I’ve been telling myself for years. “There must be some special art to creating these delightfully edible wee cheese platters."

Lies! All lies!

Thankfully Sue Lawrence once again showed me the light, and I set about gathering the surprisingly few ingredients that I would need. Instead of starting with plain oatcakes and graduating to the cheese variety, I leapt straight into the cheddar, because that’s the way I roll.

100 grams porridge oats (about heaping 8 tablespoons)
100 grams medium oatmeal
125 grams grated aged cheddar (I used Isle of Arran cheese. Be sure to choose a strong cheddar because the mild ones won‘t sustain the same depth of flavour)
75 grams melted butter

Mix everything together and add a few tablespoons of hot water to make it all sticky. (Note: As soon as the hot water went in, this invisible cloud of earthy scent was released from the oats and cheese. I nearly swooned).

Now the fun bit: no rolling pins allowed! Instead, with floury hands, press out the mix onto a board with the heels of your palms until its well spread out. I used a small glass to cut out the rounds, after which I transferred my little pretties to a lightly buttered baking tray.

When they had spent about 30 minutes in the oven (at around 325 F), I took them out and marvelled at how different they looked. Aside from turning a beautiful golden brown, they had become more textured, rough and substantial looking.

If you love oats and have never made your own oatcakes before, do try it. It’s so easy and would also make a great gift. Just stack them up, wrap them in a bit of cellophane and tie it with a ribbon. They’ll think you’re some kind of magic worker. Or if you don’t fancy giving them away, sit yourself down with your homemade oatcakes and a few chunks of cheese (or in my case, a bowl of veggie and barley soup), and enjoy.
Thanks to everyone who has so far participated in my tartan scarf giveaway. I lost count at 18 different clan tartans, not to mention those belonging to places and even one college. There is still tomorrow to get your name in if you haven’t already. Then I shall ask my beloved (a bonafide Scotsman: grrrrr...) to draw the names from the hat of treats. The big boisterous announcement is set for Tuesday.

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