Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Scottish Oaty Cakes

My father keeps calling them cookies.

"They're Scottish Oat Cakes," I say.

He says, "They just need a little salt."

I try to explain: the Scottish Oat Cakes I know are dry, bland, little else but oats. In texture, they are strangely reminiscent of particleboard. Flavor-wise, again, they are just plain oaty.

He likes them he says.

This is another one of those dry, partially edible biscuits I discovered living in Vancouver, where they cater to British tastes. (Note that I like the cakes. I am not making a jab whatsoever at the bland, spiceless character of British food. That would be a terrible overgeneralization.)

My dear friend Melanie formally introduced me to this particleboard biscuit concept by bringing a variety of cheeses and a package of Scottish Oat Cakes to share with our Breakfast Club. Half of us in the group were American and had never had the cracker-biscuit-shingle before, and we were reluctant. But something in the cakes called to our souls.

The Oak Cake is a non-threatening biscuit. It does not distract from the most important component of cheese and crackers. It acts as a stable, solid, slightly nutty, grainy backdrop for the nuances of cheese.

Maybe there were some who didn't catch their breath at the sight of them, but the rest of us did not notice. It was an unlikely attraction. But it was attraction nonetheless. We were all in love with "Scottish Oaty Cakes."

These Oat Cakes are my first attempt. I overcooked them a wee bit, but that is easily remedied. Overcooking is not the end of the world but undercooking is. They should give a clean break and not be at all soft.

Scottish Oaty Cakes

This recipe is a little more flavorful than the store-bought version. The addition of a little more salt and also yogurt instead of water makes them no less low-key and unassuming, but they are less weird and more palatable for the wary Oaty Cake eater.

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup whole grain flour (I used wheat, but oat or spelt would be good)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup butter, cut small
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 cup whole natural yogurt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix dry ingredients. Cut in butter or roll it between your fingertips until it is fully incorporated and the mixture is like oat-flaked cornmeal. Add yogurt and mix until incorporated. Gather dough into a ball and scatter more flour on your work surface. Roll out dough 1/4 inch thick, cut with a biscuit cutter, brush off excess flour, and place rounds on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake 25-35 minutes, or until golden allover and firm in the center. Enjoy!


  1. This is hilarious! I just ate about seven Scottish oat cakes today (Melanie's brand). I had bought them for the staff breakfast at work, when it was my turn to cook. None of my fellow staff liked them. I saw several half-eaten oat cakes on their plates. So I was finishing the package today as a snack on the ferry, and reflecting about how strange it was that I liked them, even without cheese. What fortuitous timing for this post! I feel much less strange now.

  2. ...oh kindred spirit of the Oaty Cake!