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Oatcakes at Lallybroch from Voyager

Oatcakes at Lallybroch from Voyager

Voyager

But strangest of all was Jenny’s absence.  She was the hearthfire of Lallybroch; I had never been in the house when it was not suffused with her presence, all the inhabitants in orbit about her like planets about the sun.  I could think of nothing less like her than that she should leave her kitchen with such a mob of company in the house.

Her presence was a strong now as the perfume of the fresh pine boughs that lay in a large pile in the back pantry, their presence beginning to scent the house; but of Jenny herself, not a hair was to be seen.

She had avoided me since the night of my return with Young Ian — natural enough, I supposed, under the circumstances.  Neither had I sought an interview with her.  Both of us knew there was a reckoning to be made, but neither of us would seek it then.

It was warm and cozy in the kitchen — too warm.  The intermingled scents of drying cloth, hot starch, wet diapers, sweating bodies, oatcake frying in lard, and bread baking were becoming a bit too heady, and when Katherine mentioned the need of a pitcher of cream for the scones, I seized the opportunity to escape, volunteering to fetch it down from the dairy shed.

Diana Gabaldon, Voyager (Chapter 38 – I Meet a Lawyer)

Jenny the sister, wife and matron?  Love her.  Up to this point, she was always the consummate Highland hostess who kept Lallybroch in line with her sharp tongue and a penetrating look from her gimlet eye.  My kind of woman.

Jenny the matchmaker?  Not so much.  Oh, her intentions may have been good, but they ended in disaster.  And 4 books on, I have to admit, I’m still a little PO’ed at her.

But I have a feeling Claire is going to be verra happy that Jenny has come along for the ride in MOBY.  Especially once Jamie gets back from his tête-à-tête with Lord John…

bacon-fat for oatcakes

Does my crock of bacon fat scare you?  Then don’t go looking for any stone circles with time travel in mind.  Two hundred years ago, before our modern “fat wars” began, for good or ill, everything was cooked in animal fat.

Lard adds flavour to any dish, but most especially to a batch of otherwise bland oatcakes.  And since most of us don’t have big blocks of pork fat hanging around anymore (heck, you have to pre-order it from most butchers these days), the easiest source for flavour is bacon drippings.

I strain the fat from our weekend bacon pans through a small strainer lined with paper towel and keep the crock in the fridge.  I use it in oatcakes and sometimes savoury scones, but I also sometimes use a teaspoon or 2 to start my soups and pasta sauces.

It adds a salty smokiness that olive oil just can’t beat.

OATCAKES

Traditionally, oatcakes were made in dessert-plate size rounds, and then cut into quarters, also known as farls.  Around here, we prefer our savoury oatcakes round, more like a cracker.

(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)

Oatcakes at Lallybroch from Voyager

Traditionally served with butter and honey, oatcakes make a great gluten-free alternative to crackers or bread, and are delicious served with jam and cheese for a light lunch.

Yield: (8) 3” Oatcakes or (1) 8-9″ Oatcake

  • Rolled Oats – 1½ Cups
  • Baking Soda – 1 tsp
  • Salt – ½ tsp
  • Bacon Fat or Butter, melted – 1 Tble
  • Boiling Water – ¼-⅓ Cup
  • Bacon Fat or Butter – to grease the pan

Grind the rolled oats a coffee grinder in small batches, until a coarse meal — about (3) 1 second pulses.  Reserve 2 tablespoons ground oats for dusting the counter.

Mix the ground oats, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.  Pour the melted fat and ¼ cup boiling water into the centre of the mixture. Stir well with a wooden spoon, adding more water as required to make a stiff dough.

Roll the dough onto a counter dusted with the reserved ground oats.  Working quickly while the dough is still warm, roll the dough out to a disc ¼” thick. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out rounds, or, alternatively, use a plate to cut one large circular oatcake, then cut that into quarters.

Heat a heavy (preferably cast iron) pan over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.  Brush the pan with bacon fat or butter and cook the oatcakes until the edges just begin to brown, about 3-5 minutes.  Flip and cook the other side.

Store in a covered container and reheat lightly if desired.

Ith gu leòir! (Eat Plenty)

Notes:

  • Slightly sweet oatcakes are a wonderful accompaniment to afternoon tea.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of brown sugar to the dough.
  • Not all oats are guaranteed gluten-free.  Check the label.
  • You can also bake these in a 375° F oven until very lightly golden, about 8-10 minutes.
  • And of course, if you prefer, the oatcakes can be cooked in a dry pan.  No fat required.  But what fun would that be?

oatcakesOatcakes, cheese, piccalilli and fig jam.

24 Comments

  1. Ms. Aaron Brown
    May 11, 2012 at 6:52 am

    My grandmother always kept her grease dripping in an old coffee can. It’s no wonder that we didn’t all die of some kind of coffee can poisoning….she was the best cook I ever knew!! I will give these a try!!

    • Theresa
      May 12, 2012 at 7:09 am

      Your grandma sounds like my kind of cook, Aaron!

    • Ayrial
      August 3, 2014 at 9:32 pm

      I still keep mine in an old coffee can just like my dad did.

  2. lionartcreation
    May 11, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Gosh…is that a special oat cake pan!? I want, I want!!! And I LOVE the crock o lard…I keep my bacon drippings in random mugs that I shove in the fridge. Not nearly as cute…

    • Theresa
      May 12, 2012 at 7:08 am

      It is an english muffin pan, Lee Ann…look out for one in your travels! Just strap it to your pack…Theresa

  3. Lorna
    May 11, 2012 at 11:50 am

    My mom used to keep bacon drippings too, but hers had “floaties”, obviously not strained, so didn’t look nearly as appealing as yours.

    • Theresa
      May 12, 2012 at 7:07 am

      Gotta love the bacon fat!

  4. Sandi McLaren
    May 11, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    The pan used is for Swedish Pancakes (those perfect little lacy things), but it’s just the perfect size for oatcakes!

    • Theresa
      May 12, 2012 at 7:05 am

      Actually, this is an english muffin pan. A little bit different than an ableskiver pan. (My heritage is Danish, and I grew up eating little round pancakes for breakfast) 🙂

  5. Yvette Burtschell
    May 12, 2012 at 2:45 am

    Another GF delight to try – thank you! 2 questions for you – the GF oats I have on hand are steel cut. Since we’re grinding anyway, should that matter? Also, on the piccalilli – do you think I could use cornstarch in place of the flour? Is it just a matter of thickening? Thanks again!

    • Theresa
      May 12, 2012 at 7:07 am

      Try it with the steel cut oats, Yvette…I don’t think there will be any difference after the grinding. As for the piccalilli, cornstarch will work just fine! I would mix some into water and then add the slurry to the piccalilli mixture…that should avoid lumps.

    • Yvette Burtschell
      May 12, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      Thanks! Oh, and we’ll DEFINITELY be using the bacon drippings :-).

    • Theresa
      May 16, 2012 at 7:41 am

      Awesome, Yvette!

  6. bullrem
    June 2, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    This grandma, still keeps bacon grease in a coffee can – in the freezer. The cans are getting hard to find. You better keep some empties in the back of the cabinet for later uses. I suppose they will be antiques in a couple years. Thanks for the recipe. Helen in Ark.

  7. Tiana Hodge
    January 2, 2013 at 11:40 am

    The things we learn from our mothers. I too keep a can of lard in the fridge from bacon. As for the recipe thanks for posting. Awesome.

    • Theresa
      January 3, 2013 at 12:12 pm

      My pleasure, Tiana! I find the number of us who keep bacon fat in the fridge reassuring. Maybe it’s just cause I was convinced for years that I was the only one. 😉

  8. jann durkin ( Brody clan)
    February 28, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    I have steel-cut oats – but no grinder. would using my food processor work to grind the oats?

    • Theresa
      March 1, 2013 at 8:11 am

      It depends on the wattage of your food processor and the sharpness of its blade. Won’t hurt to try though! (It will scratch the bowl of the processor though, be warned) — best of luck!

  9. Diana Nunn
    September 10, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    Leaf lard is a good bacon fat substitute. Order by mail order, just do an internet search….

  10. Mariken
    February 27, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Hello,

    First of all I would like to thank you for this brilliant website. You bring together two of my biggest passions in life and browsing through this blog is always a pleasure.

    I have tried several of your recipes already, and they usually turn out great (and if not, it is because I made a mistake). However, I tried to make these oatcakes today and although the result looked very promising, they tasted horribly bitter. This time I followed your recipe to the T, no mistakes here, although I did substitute the bacon fat for butter as per your own suggestion. That left me wondering what went wrong.

    I searched the internet and found out (I wash rubbish at chemistry) that baking soda is a base and therefore needs an acid (like buttermilk or yoghurt) to react. Without an acid baking soda will not work (as in, whatever you are baking will not leaven) and it will leave a bitter taste. As baking powder contains an acid (next to sodium bicarbonate), it does not require an additional acid and therefore the bitter taste is automatically neutralized.

    So I was wondering whether it would be better to substitute the baking soda for baking powder or that perhaps I made another mistake that I am not yet aware of.

    Thanks again for you wonderful recipes; no matter this set-back I will keep on trying!

    Best wishes,
    Mariken

    • Theresa
      March 1, 2015 at 7:17 am

      This is a pretty authentic 18th C recipe, Mariken. You’re welcome to change it as you like! I agree that baking powder may be a better choice here, but it still contains baking soda, so that bitter taste may not disappear altogether.

      I also have a more modern recipe for oatcakes here http://outlanderkitchen.com/2013/07/31/herb-pumpkin-seed-oatcakes/. This recipe is a lot more popular and tastier, in my opinion.

  11. Joanne Peck
    April 14, 2015 at 8:03 am

    I have been using Bob’s oats and following the recipe for Oat Cakes on the package. For whatever reason, I thought it said to use 3/4 cups sugar and they were delicious! I guess they did considering it said to use 3/4 tsp.! However, if you like a sweet, hard, dunking cooking with your breakfast tea or coffee, add 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar! Finally caught my mistake and the salty/savory cracker type are good, too, with cheese and fruit!

  12. Jessica shive
    May 7, 2015 at 9:44 am

    I will be trying these this weekend. I have been making strides to get back to traditional Irish/Scottish cooking (I’ve both in me).

Comments are closed.