Above is the beautiful and romantic Lake of Menteith, photographed by Andy and completely untouched - it really is that picturesque! In the distance Ben Lomond - Beacon Mountain and nearby The Highland Boundary Fault, where the Lowlands meet the Highlands - home of the oatcake.Traditionally each community had its mill with which the local crofters ground the oats, the only crop that would grow in the harsh Northern climate. The oatmeal was used to make porridge, of course but also oatcakes, often referred to as 'the bread of Scotland'.
Although a traditional Scottish breakfast biscuit, the oatcake was/is also eaten with honey, game, smoked salmon, soup and cheese. Above, is one of our favourites, raw local organic fresh goats' cheese rolled in herbes de Provence and cornflower petals - delicious!
Oats do not contain gluten, however it is best not to buy and use them, if you are gluten intolerant, unless they are labelled gluten-free. Oats can be contaminated by stray plants when other cereal crops are grown in close proximity. For this reason countries like France, where there are no large dedicated oat-growing areas, can not guarantee their oats to be gluten-free. This is why people often get confused about why all oats are not labelled as suitable for those allergic to gluten. Below in the ingredients I have put links to both rolled and pinhead/steel cut certified organic and gluten-free oats.
Step 1: Ingredients and Method
1 generous pinch salt
1 tablespoon butter or butter and palm oil, dripping, bacon fat or lard
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
8 tablespoons of hot water
Extra oats or oat flour for sprinkling
Chop up oats using a coffee grinder for a few seconds so as to retain the texture of the oats without making a flour.
Mix the dry ingredients and add the melted fat by pouring into the centre of the mixture.
Using a wooden spoon handle (or traditional spurtle) stir well whilst incorporating enough water to make a stiff dough.
Powder your hands, bowl or board with chopped oats or oat flour and knead the dough, working quickly.
Using plenty of chopped oats, roll out either into a thin round or divide dough into half and roll into two rounds (traditional).
Traditionally the rounds are then marked out into wedges but we roll thinly and cut out biscuit shapes.
Place on a buttered baking tray put in an oven pre-heated to 390°F or 200°C and cook for approximately 20-30 minutes.
If you decide to make the traditional wedges, then cook on a medium heated griddle or in a frying pan for approximately 3 minutes. When they are cooked the edges will begin to curl and turn golden brown.
If you are interested in finding out more about the history of this food and in learning what Dr Johnson wrote in his dictionary about oats and what Patrick Murray, 5th Lord Elibank replied, then you can find this and more pictures of goats and Scotland on my original blog article here and where you can also find many more recipes!
All the best and please share this recipe if you enjoyed it and do feel free to comment and or ask questions, here or on the blog,