Recipe Corner: Staffordshire Oatcakes

by Harry on December 17, 2008

Talking of made up family traditions, Staffordshire Oatcakes a la Brighouse Mothersname household are a nice light-ish alternative to regular pancakes. I was first served them as a teenager by the Leek, Staffs, native parents of a friend of my sister’s; then completely forgot about them until coming across them in a children’s story several years ago. You’re supposed to use half medium oatmeal (scottish oatmeal in the US) and half regular flour, but I prefer to use oat flour with just a couple of spoons of medium oatmeal for texture. I make them when my eldest has friends over for sleepovers and they are always popular; I make the batter the night before, and its all ready to cook in the morning. You can serve them with butter and syrup (Golden Syrup is best, but maple is fine); or, for a light lunch, with grated cheese on top (fold the pancake to melt the cheese, gruyere is best).

1 teaspoon dried yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 cups oat flour and 3 tablespoons of medium/scottish oatmeal
2 cups water and 2 cups milk
(or 4 cups of liquid, with milk and water in whatever proportion you want, really).
2 tablespoons of melted butter

Dissolve the yeast and sugar into the liquid, and leave covered for 10 minutes.
Add all the other ingredients except the butter, and whisk thoroughly so there are no lumps.
Leave in a mixing bowl, covered with plastic wrap, for at least an hour (overnight is fine; 2 days is fine, frankly) in a not-too-warm place.

Just before cooking, mix in the melted butter. Cook like pancakes on a moderate griddle in butter. Serve immediately (or keep them in a hot oven, but don’t stack them, please). You can add more flour, or more liquid, any time you want, to get the consistency you prefer; this recipe should make the consistency a bit thicker than crepes.



BillCinSD 12.18.08 at 2:16 am

I would make this but the Oatcake is a fanzine for Stoke City and as a Port Vale fan i can’t really have anything to do with a Staffordshire Oatcake just to be safe


Andrew 12.18.08 at 4:52 am

Looks delicious!


R. Stanton Scott 12.18.08 at 10:38 am

This sounds quite good. But don’t you need to warm the liquid to about 110 degrees before adding the yeast and sugar?


Bill Gardner 12.18.08 at 1:12 pm

Looks great. Nova Scotian oatcakes, which I love, tend to be drier, more like a cookie.


David Blumgart 12.18.08 at 2:23 pm

When referring to half-medium or ‘Scottish Oats,’ are you using this definition?

“For every type, the oats first undergo cleaning, hulling, and conditioning, which removes the outer shell (called a hull), leaving the inner kernel or oat groat…
From there, the whole oat groats are processed differently depending on what type of oatmeal they are being made into. Lincoln says that to make steel-cut oats (also known as Irish oats), the groats are chopped up with steel blades. “This allows for a chewier oatmeal,” says Lincoln. For Scottish oats, the groats are ground into a meal, which makes a “porridge-type oat with a nice, creamy texture….”


Barry 12.18.08 at 2:30 pm

Warming the liquid helps, particularly the milk. Otherwise, you’ll waste an hour or two of rise time. Of course, if you’re making it hours ahead of time, that doesn’t matter. BTW, I’ve found that letting the hot water run out of the tap until it’s as hot as it’s gonna get is usually hot enough to kill yeast.

My recipe for awsome pancakes/waffles:

Mash up some bananas, and blend them in with the milk, egg *yolks* and applesauce (don’t use oil; use applesauce). If you have any walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc., crush them and mix them in. Whip the egg *whites* to a fluffy merenge (sp?), and fold that in. If you’re making waffles, oil the waffle-maker a bit more than usual, because there is no oil in the batter.


harry b 12.18.08 at 2:37 pm

If you make it the night before it makes no difference whether you warm the water (it just helps the yeast dissolve a little faster). If you make it an hour ahead of time having the liquid lukewarm is good, but you don’t need it any warmer than that.


Deliasmith 12.18.08 at 3:35 pm

True Staffs oatcake eaters buy them ready-made from the oatcake shop. Making your own oatcakes is like making your own pasta – a regrettable necessity if you can’t access a shop (i.e live more than 20 miles from Stoke), otherwise a bourgeois affectation.

When I was a youth, the best oatcake shop around, Stanley’s, had a larger-than-lifesize painting of a perfect oatcake-based meal propped up in the shop window. Thanks to the artist’s choice of medium – household gloss paint on hardboard – the sausages, bacon, black pudding and fried egg that lay on the oatcake glistened in a hyper-lifelike manner.


jamie 12.18.08 at 5:22 pm

You can get them ready made up here inManchester: in Tesco, no less, which shows how many Stokie expats have moved up the M6.

“You can serve them with butter and syrup (Golden Syrup is best, but maple is fine)”

Sweet fillings? Good lord no. It’s got to be streaky bacon with the rind on and lots of fat. The bacon fat/oatcake interface is the point of the whole thing.


Henry 12.18.08 at 6:22 pm

re: 5, Boswell:

Doctor Johnson proposed to define the word ‘oats’ thus: ‘A grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.’ And I replied: ‘Aye, and that’s why England has such fine horses, and Scotland such fine people.


MisterB 12.20.08 at 12:27 am

We, too, can get oatcakes from Tesco, between Nottingham and Derby.
Jamie – you’re right: streaky bacon and melted cheese, then dipped in the melted bacon fat just to harden the arteries that bit quicker. I’m afraid I have to frown very severely on this butter and Golden Syrup business – it sounds like a decadent southern idea to me. Stanley Matthews must be turning in his grave.
Henry – I hope Dr Johnson, born in Lichfield after all, put Boswell in his place: we “potters” were enjoying bacon and oatcakes whilst the unfortunate Scots were existing on porridge and bloody haggis. No wonder they went in for dour Presbyterianism.

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