I looked in the opposite direction, toward the next table, where Dougal MacKenzie sat, apart from Colum for once. A bloody Viking, that one. With his impressive height and those broad, flat cheekbones, I could easily imagine him in command of a dragon ship, deepsunk eyes gleaming with avarice and lust as he peered through the fog at some rocky coastal village.
A large hand, wrist lightly haired with copper, reached past me to take a small loaf of oat-bread from the tray. Another Norseman, Jamie. He reminded me of Mrs. Baird’s legends of the race of giants who once walked Scotland and laid their long bones in the earth of the north.
Diana Gabaldon, Outlander (Chapter 24 – By the Pricking of My Thumbs)
The MacKenzie family and I share some common Viking ancestry. I can’t say it shows as obviously in my physical form, although my eyes are definitely blue like Jamie’s. I’m also rather pale.
And just what does that have to do with oatcakes, you may ask?
Well, I’m headed off on a little trip — a family reunion, actually — to Denmark. And while I’m over the moon to be headed off on another adventure, I’m not looking forward to the food on the plane. After last time, I swore I would never let airline food pass my lips again.
Which means that I’ve been doing some meal planning, as well as packing. I made a killer lemon loaf that I’m still bragging about to anyone who will listen. I packaged up some unsalted cashews, bought some Boursin cheese and chorizo. I also made a batch of oatcakes.
When we were in Scotland this May, I discovered the only oatcakes I’ve ever eaten with any gusto. Traditional oatcakes are OK, but I wouldn’t step on an old lady’s toes to get the last one.
However, if there’s a few Herb & Pumpkin Seed Oatcakes hanging around, I’d mind your granny.
I couldn’t find these Nairn ones anywhere nearby when we got home, so I created a recipe from the ingredients I found on the side of the box. They’re a little nutty, a touch herby, and very delicious with cheese and jam, butter and honey, or all by themselves.
(Looking for the oat bread mentioned in the excerpt? Try this recipe from Voyager.)
(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)
Modern oatcakes with FLAVOUR. Like most other oatcakes, they are gluten free — but only if the oats you buy are guaranteed gf by the manufacturer.
Yield: (2) 6” Oatcakes – 16 farls
- Rolled Oats – 1 ½ Cups
- Pumpkin Seeds (green, hulled) – ¼ Cup
- Tapioca Starch or Corn Starch – 1 Tble
- Sugar or Honey – 2 tsp
- Fresh Thyme, chopped fine – 1 tsp
- Fresh Rosemary, chopped fine – 1 tsp
- Salt – ½ tsp
- Baking Soda – ½ tsp
- Butter, melted – 2 Tble
- Boiling Water – ¼ Cup
Preheat oven to 375º F.
Grind the rolled oats a coffee grinder in small batches, until a coarse meal — about (5) 1 second pulses. Use the same technique to grind the pumpkin seeds.
Combine the ground oats, pumpkin seeds, starch, sugar, herbs, salt and soda in a large bowl. Add the melted butter and boiling water and stir well with a wooden spoon to make a stiff dough, adding more water if required.
Working quickly while the dough is still warm, roll the dough out to ¼” thick on a well-floured board. Use a 6” plate to cut one large circular oatcake. Transfer to a baking sheet, then use a sharp knife to cut that into eighths, but do not separate.
Cut a second round if you can, or gather up the remaining dough into a bowl and mix in 1 tablespoon boiling water to make it pliable. Roll out again and repeat for a second large oatcake. Transfer to the baking sheet, cut into farls and bake for 15-20 minutes, until light golden.
Store in a covered container…enjoy with cheese and jam, butter and honey, or any way you like.
Ith gu leòir! (Eat Plenty)
- Alternatively, use a 3” biscuit cutter to cut rounds. Yield equals 18-20
- To keep them gluten free, grind up 2 extra tablespoons of oats, and use the meal to flour the board.