I love oatcakes. I always have and I always will. They are better than mere crackers in every way. They taste better, they are better for you and they are more interesting. I have made them before but only once and it took me a LONG time to track down the recipe that I had used in the past. It was from a BBC Good Food magazine from about two years ago and it was for thyme-flavored oatcakes. I made rosemary flavored and plain last time and this time I went for rosemary, sage-and-pepper, and honey-and-lemon.
You do know what an oatcake is? It is a cracker like flatbread thing that is made essentially just from whole oats (not the rolled kind that are in Quaker oatmeal which is the only kind of oat most people have ever seen). It is about an eighth of an inch thick and crunchy and chewy at the same time with a strong nutty and oaty taste. They are superb for eating with cheese – just absolutely the best thing ever.
I also looked through all my many cookbook for a recipe to compare – no luck. Apparently the oatcake is too much of a specialty item.
So here’s the recipe for Rosemary Oatcakes.
You need to use steel-cut or pinhead oatmeal. This is where the whole oat grain is chopped by a blade into smaller chunks of oat. They are about the size of a pinhead – hence the name. The commonest kind available is McCann’s Irish steel-cut oatmeal. While these will work, experience tells me that they make a very coarse oatcake. I prefer a kind I can get at Trader Joe’s that is a little smaller and softer.
2 cups steel-cut oatmeal
1 stalk of rosemary (about 2 tbsps whole leaves)
2 tbsps olive oil
1/3 tsp salt
3 tbsps boiling water
A small amount of flour
Heat the oven to 400 degrees and grease a baking sheet. Put the oats, salt and rosemary into a food processor and whizz together until they are well blended, the rosemary is finely chopped and the oats have been chopped a little. Now add the olive oil and whizz again until completely blended. While the food processor is running, carefully pour in the water. You do not need to add it all. Stop when you have a dough that is not yet too gummy.
Put the dough on floured surface and roll it out with a rolling pin using flour as needed to prevent sticking. This is a very sticky dough that is hard to work with. Do your best to keep it together and not let it crumble. Once it is rolled to about an eighth of an inch, you can cut it – in circles with a cutter or in triangles or rectangles with a knife. While circles are nice, they are hard to achieve with such a crumbly dough. I usually do rough rectangles, not all the same size. Carefully lift the cut oatcakes onto the baking sheet with a spatula. They will really try to fall apart. Bake for about twelve to fifteen minutes until browning on the edges and let dry on a rack to crisp up. Oatcakes keep pretty well in a sealed box.