We are moving towards England today for some oatcakes. When I say oatcakes, they are not actually cakes but are yeast based savory pancakes which are eaten as a breakfast item. These oatcakes are a regional specialty of North Staffordshire area of England, specifically the Stoke-on-Trent region and prepared with a fermented batter of oat, wholemeal and all purpose flours. They are normally referred to as North Staffordshire cakes by non locals because they were once made only in and around Staffordshire and Cheshire. These oatcakes are treated as a delicacy in the region and the locals supposedly pay a trip to the nearby vendors on weekends to pick fresh oatcakes to savor them leisurely at home serving along with cheese, bacon, eggs and tomato. Those fillings / sides along with the oat pancakes is what the dish is about. Without those, they would be plain, pitiful pancakes I guess.I sprinkled cheddar cheese over our oatcakes.
These oatcakes were / mostly still a local fare and they go even by some nicknames like 'Potteries Chapati' and 'Tunstal Tortilla'. The oatcakes are supposedly made for hundreds of years and naturally there are are several myths surrounding the origin of the dish. One being linked to the times when India was a British colony. Some claim that the local soldiers who served in India took a liking to chapatis and they tried to recreate them on their return to Staffordshire. They used the locally grown oats while doing so, resulting in these oatcakes.
Oatcake recipe has been a closely guarded secret for many years and the recipe varies among oatcake makers. The rural tradition of oatcake making had become a booming cottage industry during industrial revolution because of the local availability of oats and the expansion of pottery and mining business in the Potteries region. It was once common for oatcakes to be sold directly from the window of a house to customers on the street, through out the Staffordshire Potteries, the industrial area in the region. However the last business which sold oatcakes in this style closed recently and there are now small and large businesses selling oatcakes.
And these oatcakes are not to be confused with the Scottish version oatcakes. They are also oat based but are biscuits that are baked. The Scottish oatcakes date back to the 19th century and used to be baked on a hotplate over open fire.
Ingredients: (Yield 6 oatcakes)
1 & 1/4 cup oat flour
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. rapid rise yeast *
1 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
Oil if necessary
Fillings as needed
* The original recipe uses dry yeast or fresh yeast. I used less yeast since I was resting it for about a couple of hours.
* Sieve together flours and salt in a mixing bowl.
* Combine sugar, yeast and warm water in a bowl and leave aside for about 10 minutes or until the mixture turns frothy.
* Add the yeast mixture and warm milk to the flour mixture and mix well to combine.
* Leave the batter to rest in a warm place for about 2 hours.
* The fermented batter would be frothy. Gently stir the batter with the ladle to combine.
* Heat a griddle on medium flame and grease it if necessary. Pour a ladleful of batter and spread it tilting the griddle or using the back of the ladle. Cook until the bottom side turns golden brown and flip. Cook until the other side is done too.
* Repeat the steps with the remaining batter.
* Oatcakes are served with fillings such as cheese, tomato, onion, bacon, egg and sausage. They can be eaten plain buttered / grilled with cheese. They can be served with jam / syrup / bananas though it would not be a traditional version.
* The leftovers can be reheated in a microwave.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 56