Monday, January 10, 2011

Laurie MacBride's Scottish Oatcakes

So while I was writing Solomon's Puzzle, I imagined what my characters might choose to eat during those scenes when there had to be food. Then, I had to leave my computer and make whatever it was I saw they were eating. This is one of the reasons the book took so long to finish.

The original Scottish recipes for oatcakes were a bit forbidding (like Grannie MacBride herself) so I sweetened them up a little and made this one which is an adaptation easier for the modern cook.

Oatcakes are homey little cakes, more like crackers. They have a warming, wholesome, cheery quality that you simply must try. They keep forever if wrapped up and are most delicious  with nutty, yummy crunch, when served with softened butter and a tart jam.

Laurie MacBride’s Scottish Oatcakes – this recipe makes about 20 small cakes that are homey, not fancy but delicious served with butter and jam and hot tea!

1-1/3 cups oatmeal (not the quick cook kind) ground in food processor or blender to a coarse meal texture
1/3 cup flour
1/8 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs. lard, Crisco, or butter

5- 6 Tbs. hot water

extra oatmeal and flour for rolling out

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Put the oatmeal in the food processor and grind it up. It should have a coarse, mealy texture, not as fine as flour.

Measure this into a bowl using 1+ 1/3 cups.  Add the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda to the oatmeal and mix together.
I mixed the flour, ground oat meal, sugar, salt and baking soda together. 

Return the dry ingredients to the food processor and add 2 tablespoons of fat. Whirl it together for about 20 seconds. Scrape the sides down and whirl again for 20 seconds. The mixture should look like wet sand.

Return to the bowl again. Add the hot water by pouring in 4 Tbs. and stirring. Dribble the remaining water on until the dough comes together.

Turn out the dough (it’s rough looking, not smooth) onto a flat surface that has been sprinkled with flour and more ground oats. Form it into a ball, then coat the rolling pin with flour and work the dough into a flat round about ¼ inch thick. This can be done with firm pressure, begin by pressing at the center of the ball and working out.

Cut the dough into circles and place these on a greased pan.

Once you cut the circles, re roll the scraps. The dough will be very dry, so sprinkle on a few drops of hot water and knead a little, then sprinkle more flour and oatmeal on your work surface before you re-roll.
This is the second rolling. The dough was dry, so I sprinkled water on it, mashed it up together and rolled again. No problem!

Bake for 12 - 15 minutes in a 325 degree oven until the edges are a bit golden.

You may also cook oatcakes on a pancake griddle over medium heat if you wish. Don’t flip but cook for 3 minutes.  The edges will curl up a bit. Some people then brown the cakes under the broiler.

If you don’t feel up to rolling the dough, simply press it into a greased 8” x 8” pan and bake for 20 minutes or so.  Cut when cooled.

Notes: Drippings rendered from cooked meat would have been fat used in oatcakes in the traditional Scottish home, but Crisco or butter are now easier choices. I don’t use butter because the cake goes bad more quickly. If you have made a roast beef, or if you save your bacon drippings, you might want to try these the old-fashioned way.

Lots more delicious food described in the novel...available online in select retailers.


  1. Loris, These sound intriguing, as does your new novel.

  2. They sound marvelous!