Monday, September 12, 2011

Scottish Oatcakes

Perfect Pairing:  Pastry blender/cutter

I recently had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago, Hot Chocolate.  The chef, Mindy Segal, is known for her desserts.  No surprise at a restaurant named Hot Chocolate.  They do have great desserts but they also have a great selection of savory items.  We ordered the cheese plate and while it was good there was one thing that stood out to me…. the crackers that came with it.  The restaurant bakes their own bread and crackers and you can tell.  The waitress said the crackers were called oatcakes.  They were outstanding and I decided that I wanted to know how to make them.

I searched the internet for a recipe that sounded like what I had at the restaurant and came up with this Scottish Oatcake recipe.  It turned out really well and was the perfect combination of crunchy, sweet and savory.  It is like a cross between a cracker and a cookie.  Nothing wrong with that concept!  I included them on my cracker tray alongside a cheese plate.  I knew they passed the test when my cousin, Scott, held it up and said, “What is this?  I love it!” and when I told them about them he said, “You made these?!”.  This recipe is officially a keeper.
The Perfect Pairing for this recipe is a pastry blender or cutter.  I grew up calling it a pastry cutter but I think it is widely known as a pastry blender.  It is a handheld tool with thin, flexible wires in a circle shape that cuts the butter or shortening into the flour mixture.    Below is my mom’s pastry cutter that she inherited from her grandmother.  It is well loved.

I have made this recipe twice, once using a pastry cutter and once using my hands.  I much preferred using the pastry cutter.   It is a personal preference, but I don’t like getting my hands all goopy.  Also, I think it did a better job and kept the shortening cold, which makes a better cracker. 

Scottish Oatcakes
Adapted by Lindsay at Perfecting the Pairing from Bon Appétit

  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a baking sheet or cover with a silicone mat. Place oats in large bowl.  Add flour, sugar, baking soda and salt into same bowl. Using fingers or a pastry blender/cutter, rub in shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk; stir until dough forms. Transfer dough to floured surface. Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out rounds. Arrange on prepared sheets, spacing apart. Gather scraps, reroll and cut out additional rounds.
Bake oatcakes until edges are pale golden, about 12 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to racks and cool 5 minutes. Transfer cakes to racks; cool completely. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)

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