Making Oat Cakes, George Walker (1781-1814)
World Baking Day
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
Land of the Golden Oatcake
World Baking Day is May 17th! Why not celebrate with an oatcake?
From the dance notes:
A businessman who travelled widely had these words to say: "In nearly half a century of sampling good breads, cakes, and pies, I have never encountered such consistently excellent baked goods as those I admiringly munched from coast to coast in Scotland. I herewith submit, with greatest respect, to the tune of "Scotland the Brave," a paean to all those Scots home cooks and professional pastry-makers whose hymn has heretofore remained unsung:
Land of the fruit and iced cake, Land of the shining biscuit,
Land of the scone and pancake Topped all with cream,
Land of the golden oatcake, Land of the bun and bannock,
And of the jam-filled sponge cake Light as a dream."
High praise indeed!
Oatcakes have been documented as existing in Scotland since at least the time of the Roman conquest of Britain in AD 43, and likely before then. Oatcakes have also been described as being the "mainstay of Scottish breads for centuries".
Oats are one of the few grains that grow well in the north of Scotland and were, until the 20th century, the staple grain used.
There are many regional variations of the oatcake. In Edinburgh and the Lothians, wheat flour was also added. Unlike the Lowlanders, Highlanders would never use two kinds of grain. Their oatcakes were only made with oatmeal with less fat and water, making them brittle. 'Bonnach Imeach', is an oatcake from the Hebrides Islands, which is much thicker than other regions. The Gaelic name means "cake with butter."
Scottish soldiers in the 14th century carried a metal plate and a sack of oatmeal. According to contemporary accounts, a soldier would heat the plate over fire, moisten a bit of oatmeal and make a cake to "comfort his stomach. Hence it is no marvel that the Scots should be able to make longer marches than other men."
"A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people."
"Yes, and where else will you see such horses and such men?"
For a traditional recipe with rave reviews, click here. Or for a modern recipe for Caraway Oatcakes with Stilton & Damson Jam, click the picture.