Oatcakes Go With Everything
Scottish oatcakes are simple, sort of like a crisp bread or cracker made from oatmeal. But sometimes the simpler a thing is, the more crucial are
all the details of its component parts and preparations. There are regional varieties of Scottish oatcakes -- highland versus lowland. There
are variations on the types of oats that are best to use: porridge oats
, pinhead oats or oatflakes. And there are differing opinions about whether
to use other types of flour in the preparation to make the handling of the dough easier. The amount and type of fat -- butter, lard or bacon fat? --
are all subject to debate as well. And then there's the question of when to eat them and with what. With cheese? With marmalade
? With honey
? With smoked salmon
? With tea? With butter? With cream cheese? Unadorned, for breakfast? At dinner? Crumbled into stovies or scotch broth? Yes, yes and yes.
As is true of porridge, haggis and other iconic Scottish foods, Scottish bard Robert Burns mentioned bannock and oatcakes.
"Oatcakes are a delicate relish when eaten warm with ale," wrote Burns.
Other authorities say oatcakes should accompany fresh herrings garnished with raw onions and cold butter. It all sounds good to us.
The preparation and use of different types of oatcakes in Scotland seems to have been loaded with ritual significance. There are oatcakes -- often
called bannocks -- associated with seasonal festivals, Celtic rites, church holidays, marriage, child-rearing, and more. They have that
staff-of-life quality of omnipresence.
Scottish Gourmet offers two different oatcake recipes -- one is lighter in color, using finely cut oats, the other is more rustic, with whole grain oats. Try both and find your favorite!