This post and recipe is from Jules, a reader:
Scots have for centuries have conjured up oatcakes often with nothing more by way of ingredients other than a handful of oats and a little water, the mixture then heated over a fire.
Samuel Johnson famously said of the oat on his tour of Scotland
‘A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland, supports the people’.
Thankfully most Scots know different, and are still happy to munch on their oats the best of which are still grown here.
In the winter my wood-burning stove is lit in the kitchen, which provides an ideal place to cook my girdle oatcakes. I add salt, oil, and some baking powder to the oats and water but that is all. Wheat flour is added by some folk, which can add an extra crispness and a lighter texture.
I like the oats from Golpsie Mill http://www.golspiemill.co.uk/
who produce a range of traditional flours and meals, beremeal being a personal favorite for making bread.
Making oatcakes for the girdle seems to be a dying skill, which is a shame (A girdle is a flat round iron pan with a handle). The tricky bit is to flatten the mixture so that the edges don't crack. Keep pushing inward with your cupped hand (As described below)
Girdle Oatcake recipe
3.5 ozs fine oatmeal
1 teaspoon of baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of olive oil
A few tablespoons of boiling water
Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl
Heat oil plus one tablespoon of water in a pan till near boiling
Make a well in the oats in the bowl and pour in the oil/water mixture
Blend with a spoon until you have a fairly soggy mixture, add more boiling water a little at a time as needed
Leave the mixture to stand whilst you make yourself a well-earned cup of tea
Roll the oatcake mixture in your hands into a ball and place on a kitchen board that has been sprinkled with some fine oatmeal
Cupping the mixture with one hand, push down on the mixture with the other with the aim of forming a circle to fit your girdle rotating as you go.
Turn the formed mixture over once or twice whilst you are doing this, you may need to add more oats to stop it sticking.
Cut the circle into four or eight and gently lift each piece onto the girdle
Cook on a very low heat for 60 minutes turning once, or place on a baking tray and cook in a low oven (160º) for the same time
Place finished pieces of the oatcake on a toast rack to dry
Store in an airtight container when cool.
Hints! Too little water and the mixture will crack when flattening; remember to turn the mixture so it doesn't stick to the board. Use a spatula to lift the rolled oatcake mixture onto a baking tray or girdle.
Notes: Fine oatmeal; if you don’t have any simply grind courser oats to rough flour like consistency.
Variations are huge using various oats, adding wheat flour, margarine rather than oil. Sometimes flavorings are used; I don’t go beyond a few twists of black pepper although recently I’ve tried cardamom.
The oatcakes can be thicker or thinner, and have longer cooking times as well.
All give a slightly different end result in terms of texture or flavor.