Ah behold the humble Oatcake, longtime staple food of Scotland. Wheat flour was not always available as it is now, and breads were not as accessible in Scotland. Plus, the oat, despite being originally from the Middle-East, became a national identifier for Scotland early on. I just learned that oats grew much bigger and “juicier” in Northern Europe and Scandinavia than in their place of origin due to the longer cooler growing season, so in a way, they were meant to become claimed elsewhere.
I love the texture of these crackers, but you should be aware that it’s merely probably the closest American interpretation of the original (not that there is but one). In Scotland (and Ireland for that matter), there are many sizes and cuts of oats that we just don’t have here. The rolled oat, after all, was patented and produced in the good old USA, and has become the default consumed type of oat here. Whole cut oats respond differently to heat and liquid, and all original recipes I have seen call for “medium” oats, which are 2 grades finer than what we call Scottish or “pinhead” oats. That would be a smaller cut oat than the somewhat familiar Irish Steel-cut oats that are gaining popularity here now. So, I made do. And the outcome–still wonderful. Not a cracker you would ever find in a box (I find that attractive, despite the addictive quality of boxed crackers).
Notes: these are not salty. You could certainly add more salt to the dough (maybe a total of 1/2 t.) or some big salt on top while it’s baked (press it lightly into the dough so it sticks) but I aim to serve mine with cheese, so I wanted a more neutral base. You could also sweeten the dough slightly with honey, add herbs, cracked pepper, some additional butter or lard, but again, I like the basics first. Once you master the foundation, you can take it any place you like.
Tool recommendations: a food processor or strong blender. Otherwise a rather pert hand with a sharp knife, though that’d be some work.
Humble and delicious oat-ful crackers, perfect with cheese or preserves.
- 1 2/3 c. rolled oats
- 1/3 c. warm water
- 1 1/2 T. butter
- 1/4 t. baking powder
- pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Lightly butter a sheet tray, or place a parchment or Silpat upon it.
- In a food processor or strong blender, pulse oats, salt, and baking powder until a grainy texture appears. Do not blend to a fine flour, you want some larger pieces of oats.
- Melt butter and add that along with the water to the dough and blend again, just until it forms a somewhat malleable ball. It should not be sticky, but it won’t be like bread.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured (use oat flour for maximum oatiness!) board and roll with a heavy rolling pin or bottle to a thickness of about 1/8″ – 1/4″. You’ll know the thinnest point because it will begin to pull apart.
- Gingerly slide rolled dough onto buttered sheet tray.
- With a knife or rolling cutter, cut into 1″ squares.
- Optionally, cut into rounds with a biscuit cutter.
- Bake 15 minutes, or until edges are slightly browned and crackers are crisp and firm to the touch. They will firm up upon cooling.