Staffordshire Oatcakes

Staffordshire oatcakes have been an unappetising mystery to me. Having seen them from a distance, they looked pale and flaccid and very … plain. I never met one close-to and from this you may deduce that I never ate one. Not until today.

My DH recalled them with fondness – he spent several years living in the Potteries and became fond of the local delicacy. “You sprinkle them with cheese,” he said, and “add cooked bacon and roll them up.” Hmm…

I was never very convinced.

Fast forward to the arrival of that book that I keep banging on about. In there I found a recipe for Staffordshire Oatcakes. I thought it might be fun to treat the boss to a stack. I offered them to him for Sunday Brunch and the offer was accepted.

Now, I wish that I had photographs to offer you, but I don’t. I jumped out of bed to start the mix (it needs an hour to froth before cooking) and thence to the shower, checking my PC for business mail after I got dressed, and heading back to sort the kitchen out for cooking and eating breakfast. There was no time to consider the visuals. Breakfast happened apace, with me in charge of the griddle pan and ‘im in charge of bacon, tomatoes, beans and mugs of beverage.

I am giving the recipe here, not because I support the practice of verbatim reproduction of recipes from books, but because the recipe itself is generic – you can find it just about anywhere that you look, it differs only in slight details.

Staffordshire Oatcakes

Ingredients

  • 225g Wholemeal Flour
  • 225g Fine Oatmeal
  • 550ml Warm Water
  • 500 ml Warm Milk
  • 5g powdered dried yeast
  • 10g salt
  • a little vegetable oil for the pan

I stole this picture from the Times’ recipe for Oatcakes with Ham and Gruyère

Image by Emma Lee, Shamelessly stolen (but linked)

My Notes on Ingredients

  • Googling around shows that any combination of white or white & wholemeal can replace all-wholemeal
  • I used Atta (chapatti flour) as that was all that I had to hand
  • The use of oatmeal is essential. Make sure it is the fine ground type. You can grind your own from porridge oats.

Method

  • Whisk all the ingredients (not the oil) together until smooth. The mixture will appear far too thin at this stage. Cover and leave until the batter is thick and frothy – this will take probably about an hour.
  • Heat a heavy-based frying pan or griddle over a moderately high ring. Lightly oil the pan with a swipe of oil.
  • Whisk up the batter again.
  • Add a small ladleful of batter to the pan and swirl around to coat – just as though making a standard English-style pancake, halfway between a crèpe and a Scotch Pancake.
  • Cook for a couple of minutes. The surface will dry out and begin to populate with moon craters.
  • Flip over. The cooked side should be lightly browned. Cook for a further minute or so until the holey side takes on a lightly browned colour.
  • Look for a  fairly soft texture – don’t dry the cakes out too far or they won’t roll when you want them to.
  • Stack the oatcakes in a tea towel while you cook the remainder.  (I piled mine up in a teatowel on the Rayburn hotplate covers, keeping them at a good serving temperature.)
  • Cook as many as you need. The remaining batter may kept covered in the refrigerator for later use. I used about half of mine and froze the rest for some other Sunday.

We had two each (I have a large ladle, not a small one), which we ate filled with grated Cheddar and two slices of crispy streaky bacon, and rolled up. I had a grilled tomato with mine, Mr L had a tin of beans to help his down.

Mr L’s verdict was that these were pretty much what he remembered.

My verdict is that they are OK-ish, though not as oaty-nutty flavoured as I had hoped for. I may try different flour mixes in search of a better flavour. One factor may be the use of cheap oatmeal. Next time I shall be using an organic stoneground type but this time I had only what I could get from the local shop.

I’ll certainly make Staffordshire Oatcakes again and think it would be worth keeping a stack of cooked oatcakes in the freezer, for hasty lunches.

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3 Comments

  1. December 9, 2012
    Reply

    Mmmm Oatcakes…. food of champions.
    Since my transplantation from Leek on the outskirts of the Potteries I have been rather lucky to find local supermarkets who stock them.
    Think of them more as a background carrier for melted cheese or butter, and less of a flavour in their own right. All that Oatmeal means they’re great at keeping you full for ages, I’d much rather eat 2 oatcakes than 2 slices of wholemeal bread.

    • December 9, 2012
      Reply

      Hi, Katie – I didn’t know that you had Leek associations. I don’t know Leek myself but Mr L took me close, to the Yew Tree once, for a pork pie and a minor education. Do you know the pub at Cauldon Low?

      • December 10, 2012
        Reply

        Yep, though it all seems like a very long time ago now. I spent the first 19 years of my life there. I do know the pub at Cauldon Low, Mum and Dad used to work on a canal boat trip so I know the canal areas pretty well.

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