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Staffordshire Oatcakes


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As someone born and bred in the Potteries, but now very much rooted here in Texas, one of the things I miss most of all are the wonderful, freshly made, oatcakes that I enjoyed back in Staffordshire. I don't mean the commercially made things that have now apparently found their way on to the shelves of Sainsbury's or Tesco in some of the less sophisticated parts of the UK (e.g. London). I mean real warm oatcakes, fresh from the griddle, making a perfect breakfast or fast meal.

These wonderful alternatives to toast or bread for breakfast were the staple diet of potters, miners, steel workers and pretty much every working family in Stoke-on-Trent and the surrounding area. It used to be impossible to drive more than a mile or two through the city without seeing an oatcake shop where, especially at weekends, the delightful smell of the griddle would filter outwards into the street. There are still many left and some good ones, too, I believe. Even writing this message is making me hunger for one.

Oatcakes, for the uneducated, are rather like crepes or galettes made from a batter that is based on oatmeal and cooked on a large griddle. The ultimate whole grain breakfast, they are either wrapped around bacon and egg, fajita-style, or grilled with cheese.

My question is, has anyone successfully made oatcakes at home and if so, are there any tips, recipes, etc. that can be shared with other ex-pats from the Six Towns?

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We're fortunate here in North Cheshire that, whilst we can't get warm oatcakes, we're near enough to Stoke for a number of local outlets (often on markets) to stock them, so I'm not reliant on the Sainsbury version (which is very claggy).

As you say, sprinkle with a good Cheshire or Lancashire, grill and wrap round bacon . A favourite Sunday brekkie.

John Hartley

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Funny you should ask.

I came across this site last year and dug out my National Trust cookbook to look for a recipe.

The above site led me to this site and I tried that recipe and was hooked. Oops forgot to include this site for oatcakes.

It also led me to purchase several more cookbooks. :rolleyes:

A couple of days ago I was thinking about baking something to take along on a trip next month and pulled up that recipe as I found that the "cakes" keep and travel well.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Does this get you close?

http://www.breadsecrets.com/blog/?p=16

Being a native of North Staffordshire (UK), I was brought up on these, and make a batch every week or two (the ones you can get from the supermarket are OK but not as good as those from a proper oatcake shop, or home made, of course). So, imagine my surprise when, having made a batch this morning, my wife pointed out the “In praise of Staffordshire Oatcakes” editorial in today’s Guardian newspaper. However, they didn’t include a recipe, so here’s mine. ...

Its a yeasted savoury pancake batter, using 50/50 water and milk, and half the flour weight is fine oatmeal, the rest is 50/50 wholemeal and plain ("all purpose") flour.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Just posting from Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent in support of the noble oatcake!

Ay up duck! :) This time next week I shall be hoping to partake of the very same when my wife and I visit the Mother Country for a few days. The most convenient oatcake shop to where we are staying will be on London Road just outside 'Castle (if it's still there?). Do you patronise the famous "Hole in the Wall" in Hanley?

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Hiya Tony!

Yep, the Hole in the Wall Website is still a great place to get them, but for my money, the best I've tasted have been from High Lane oatcakes, Website & Google Maps which were also featured on the Rick Stein Food Hero program as being the best.

Hope you have a fantastic time duck!

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I am surprised that nobody has found a way of vacuum packing them to ship by air overseas. These days UPS and FedEx get things here almost as quick as they can to some remote Scottish islands, so it ought to be possible.

I might swing by High lane Oatcakes on my way to and from Vale Park.

But I am still interested in knowing what experience others have had actually making them.

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Andiesenji, can you share some tips and experience? Is it as simple as it seems?

My original recipe was for a batter that required the use of "muffin rings" to keep the batter contained but for the past few years I have been using this recipe from Recipezaar:

Oatcake recipe

It's very easy and they are very good. However, I bake them on a griddle instead of in the oven.

Because I don't plan to store them, I brush one side with melted butter as soon as they come off the griddle.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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andiesenji, the recipe you mention that required muffing rings was possible closer to a staffordshire oatcake than your current oatcake recipe.

The linked recipe above is for scottish oatcakes which are more like a dry biscuit/cracker whereas the staffordhire oatcake is more like a pancake.

Can anyone tell me how Derbyshire oatcakes differ from staffordshire oatcakes?

lapin

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andiesenji, the recipe  you mention that required muffing rings was possible closer to a staffordshire oatcake than your current oatcake recipe.

The linked recipe above is for scottish oatcakes which are more like a dry biscuit/cracker whereas the staffordhire oatcake is more like a pancake.

Can anyone tell me how Derbyshire oatcakes differ from staffordshire oatcakes?

lapin

You are correct. I just want something that will hold cheese and egg or sausage and egg. Brushing them with butter keeps them from getting too crisp.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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The recipe above is for Scottish Oatcakes, which is an entirely different animal - more like a cookie.

Staffordshire Oatcakes do not get crisp unless overdone. Typically they are pretty much the same as a crepe when cooked on a griddle or in a skillet, as far as I am aware.

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I dug out my old recipe that was passed along to me by one of my Brit friends, his mum's recipe, modified for me as the original recipe specified cake yeast and wholemeal flour. I think they used honey because his dad kept bees.

I have always used fine pinhead oatmeal because the one time I tried US type oatmeal I had a soggy mess.

Staffordshire oatcakes

Makes about 15 using muffin rings.

3 1/2 cups milk and water -half of each

1 generous tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon dry yeast

1 cup pinhead oatmeal (fine)

1 cup unbleached AP flour (can also use whole wheat flour)

1 teaspoon table salt (I use 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt)

Warm milk and water gently - no more than 98 degrees F.

Stir in the honey

In a cup dissolve the yeast in a little of the liquid and add back into the rest.

Set aside covered until the mixture is bubbly. (About 30 minutes.)

In a large bowl mix together the oatmeal, flour and salt.

Combine the liquid with the dry ingredients and mix well.

Cover and place in a warm area for an hour.

Bake on a hot griddle - I use muffin rings to keep the batter from spreading too much.

When you see holes appear on the surface, use a spatula to flip to the other side and

cook until done - about 4 minutes each side, depending on how hot the griddle.

Wrap in a tea towel to keep warm.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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As it happens I have just been corresponding with somebody that make these for many years. He is what they have to say:

"50% fine oatmeal, 25% wheatmeal, 25% white flour together with a small amount of yeast, a 'mix' for say 40 dozen, in a dustbin sized plastic container,was proved over about 6 hours until the yeast had risen to the top when it was further stimulated by a small amount of bicarbonate of soda."

I've used a similar recipe and they always turn out well.

gallery_1643_978_17550.jpg

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As it happens I have just been corresponding with somebody that make these for many years. He is what they have to say:

"50% fine oatmeal, 25% wheatmeal, 25% white flour together with a small amount of yeast, a 'mix' for say 40 dozen, in a dustbin sized plastic container,was proved over about 6 hours until the yeast had risen to the top when it was further stimulated by a small amount of bicarbonate of soda."

I've used a similar recipe and they always turn out well.

Is there any specific type of white flour that is best? I avoid bleached flour like the plague, so I would be looking for the best combination of flours to ensure the maximum amount of whole grain.

How quickly does the batter have to be used after the 6 hour period? Will it then keep in a fridge?

Great picture!

Edited by Tony Boulton (log)
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Does this get you close?

http://www.breadsecrets.com/blog/?p=16

Its a yeasted savoury pancake batter, using 50/50 water and milk, and half the flour weight is fine oatmeal, the rest is 50/50 wholemeal and plain ("all purpose") flour.

Looks good and authentic in the photo. Again, I would choose my flour carefully, but it seems straightforward enough, otherwise.

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I have just made some oatcakes using a scribbled down recipe from The River Cottage Bread book.

I didn't have wholemeal flour so I used a small amount of rye with strong white flour and I could only find medium oatmeal so I sieved it to get the larger pieces out. I think I should have used a softer flour as the otcakes were a little elastic but tasted really good. I was nervous about the amount of liquid but the batter thickened up as it sat. I cut down the salt, only adding as much as I wanted by tasting rather than weighing. I left the batter for about 3 hours to prove by which time it was very frothy.

I am cooking them on an old welsh griddle pan that had been rusting in the garage for a while so it took a bit of cleaning up and seasoning but worked really well once it was clean and hot. It would be good to cook with 2 pans at once so you could turn these out a bit faster.

Sorry about the poor picture, I was trying to show them being cooked but the griddle is as black as the stove top so not very clear.

gallery_47057_6380_26485.jpg

The original ingredients were:

225g wholemeal flour

225 g oatmeal

500 ml water

500 ml milk

5g yeast

10g salt

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  • 3 weeks later...

Tony brought a personal supply of Stratfordshire Oatcakes back to Texas from his recent trip, evading watchful US Customs agents assigned to Oatcake smuggling. A true friend, he shared a stack of these with me and advised me on the prep. I found a good mature English Cheddar, but lacking a source for lean English bacon had to settle for the usual. Everyone liked them much, so I'll have to work up a recipe that will work here.

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  • 1 year later...

I began researching oatcakes about fourteen years ago. Long story short: came across the website of a guy from Stoke-on-Trent who waxed poetic about North Staffordshire oatcakes. He invited me to visit his family when next I was in the UK, which I did, not knowing that he had arranged with the local bbc radio to take me around to several shops early the next morning, broadcasting all along the way! It was great fun. We went to Hole in the Wall where they put a Pinny on me, gave me a ladle and let me fry away. Then off to Hamil's Oatcake Shop in Burslem (Home of the Whopper) and while there, the bbc sent over reporter and cameraman and I was on the evening news! Then The Sentinel sent over a reporter and I made it into the next morning's newspaper. Such fun, great memories, and great traditional food of The Potteries.

And now I'll go grab Elizabeth David as I have always made her version and they are quite acceptable!

kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

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I had one for breakfast only yesterday.

Readily available in supermarkets near me - but then I'm in North Cheshire so only a few miles north of Stoke. These were actually Derbyshire oatcakes - same beast, different county.

John Hartley

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  • 8 years later...

Resurrecting this thread.....the other day, over here,  @liuzhou shared a link to this article: The best books on Baking Bread recommended by Chris Young. One of the 5 books recommended was The Staffordshire Oatcake: A History by Pamela Sambrook about an item I'd never heard of but which was apparently the source of happy childhood memories for Mr. Young.

 

My curiosity piqued, I browsed this thread and decided to try a recipe from The Guardian's "perfect" series: How to make the perfect Staffordshire oatcakes even though the first step, "Heat the milk with the same amount of water in a pan until about blood temperature," was a bit off-putting.   I had to add a good bit more liquid to get the batter thin enough to spread properly in the pan and may have made the m a bit too thin. 

 

In the pan, ready to flip:

IMG_2042.thumb.jpeg.f94e45a2c604b1a9c059a10942666bae.jpeg

 

Flipped:

IMG_2041.thumb.jpeg.b7bf94ff68432aa2a04ac6412b1e3a72.jpeg

 

Out of the pan:

IMG_2047.thumb.jpeg.8627a03868382462c8efbb04c6e70276.jpeg

 

The stack:

IMG_2048.thumb.jpeg.1ef089b81f8b6e7d88ae854b852a5a4d.jpeg

 

Breakfast:

IMG_2045.thumb.jpeg.8070b62da13b66fa7152bf3ba2497f83.jpeg

A bit of sharp cheddar, sautéed spinach & onion, scrambled egg with diced country ham.

 

My modifications, based on what I had:  I used buttermilk instead of milk. I blitzed oatmeal in the blender, leaving some texture and used that for the finely ground oats. I used stone ground whole grain Glenn wheat flour for the strong wholemeal flour and used King Arthur bread flour for the strong white flour.  I mixed the batter and put it into the fridge overnight. It had risen almost double the original volume.  I needed to add more liquid and chose to let it sit again for about an hour to start rising again before I cooked them.
My 25 cm Darto skillet has a 21 cm/8 inch inside diameter and I ladled in a little more than 100 ml (~ 1/2 cup) for each cake so they're about 8 inches in diameter. 

 

Edited by blue_dolphin (log)
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40 minutes ago, blue_dolphin said:

My curiosity piqued, I browsed this thread and decided to try a recipe from The Guardian's "perfect" series: 

I can take even less of Felicity Cloake than I can of Christopher Kimball!  But your oatcakes look so good I am going to grit my teeth and read the linked article. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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2 hours ago, blue_dolphin said:

My curiosity piqued, I browsed this thread and decided to try a recipe from The Guardian's "perfect" series: How to make the perfect Staffordshire oatcakes even though the first step, "Heat the milk with the same amount of water in a pan until about blood temperature," was a bit off-putting.  

IMG_2047.thumb.jpeg.8627a03868382462c8efbb04c6e70276.jpeg

 

 

Those are so enticing. I think "blood temp" is the same as what you dab on your wrist when checking a baby bottle. 

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