oatcakes inspired by Outlander book Voyager

Oatcakes at Lallybroch from 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.

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.


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.

Show/Hide Comments


11 May 2012 - 1:52pm

Ms. Aaron Brown

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!!

11 May 2012 - 5:51pm


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...


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

11 May 2012 - 6:50pm


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

12 May 2012 - 2:01am

Sandi McLaren

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


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) :)

12 May 2012 - 9:45am

Yvette Burtschell

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!


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

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

03 Jun 2012 - 4:10am


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.

02 Jan 2013 - 6:40pm

Tiana Hodge

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.


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. ;)

01 Mar 2013 - 5:20am

jann durkin ( …

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


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!

19 May 2014 - 3:07am

Herb and Pump…

were in Scotland this May, I discovered the only oatcakes Ive ever eaten with any gusto. Traditional oatcakes are OK, but I wouldnt step on an old ladys toes to get the last

11 Sep 2014 - 1:09am

Diana Nunn

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

27 Feb 2015 - 6:10pm


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


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. nnI 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.

07 May 2015 - 4:44pm

Jessica shive

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).

14 Apr 2015 - 3:03pm

Joanne Peck

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!

Add new comment

You might also be interested in