I’d never heard of Staffordshire oatcakes until I moved to Stoke 15 years ago. Here, they are an obsession. Everywhere I’ve worked people eat them on their morning break and I’ve even been served them at weddings. Fierce arguments break out in staff rooms about where the best oatcakes are to be found, and I was almost lynched when I once admitted to buying those packets you sometimes find in supermarkets. The best oatcakes come from small oatcake shops, which only open in the mornings and sell only oatcakes (they might sometimes branch out and sell pikelets too!). If you want to be turned instantly into an outcast in Stoke you could express an opinion that those hard Scottish biscuity oatcakes are the real ones – but don’t expect to be ever admitted back into the staff room again.
With such easy access to oatcakes (the “proper” ones are vegan, but the supermarket versions contain milk), it had never really occured to me to make my own, but when I read that the theme for this month’s breakfast club is British I thought it would be fun to try and have a go. The oatcake shops are very secretive about their recipes but I asked around at work for a tried and tested recipe. I will tweak this a bit next time because the oatcake shop versions are naturally vegan without using soya milk, and also they’re much darker, so I’m going to try mixing in wholemeal flour.
4oz fine oatmeal (I just ground up normal oats in my VitaMix)
4oz plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 sachet of instant yeast
1/4 pint of warm soya milk
1/2 pint of water
Sieve oats and flour into a warm bowl. Add the salt, yeast, sugar and liquids. (If you are using non instant yeast you will need to dissolve it in the liquid first). Cover, and leave in a warm place for about an hour. Give it a stir, and if necessary add extra liquid to produce a pancake like batter. Heat and oil a good pan and spread the batter out thinly. Allow to cook for a few minutes, then turn. Keep warm while you make the rest of the oatcakes. Makes 6. Can be frozen.
Now you’ve got your oatcakes, what do you do with them? They’re traditionally rolled around non vegan ingredients such as bacon, cheese and sausages, but you can put whatever you want in them. They’re normally eaten at breakfast time so you could put in anything that would from part of an English breakfast. I used baked beans, mushrooms and a big dollop of HP sauce, but other options could include scrambled tofu, tomatoes, or vegan versions of cheese, bacon or sausage. You could even go mad and eat them in the evening stuffed with cheesy or creamy spinach or asparagus, or why not try using them instead of injera or tortillas for a true fusion combo?