Scotch Oatcakes

Contributed by Barbara Monajem.  For more on her work please visit:


No, I’m not of Scottish heritage (or only a fraction), and I don’t write historicals about Scotland. My oatcakes are probably a far cry from the real thing. Nevertheless, I adore them, and every child I’ve made them for (or with–they’re a great recipe to do with kids) loves them, too.

The recipe follows, but since I don’t follow recipes–can’t resist altering them–please bear with me. I’m the same way with directions. This is partly to do with living in the Atlanta area (it’s snowing here!!), where the roads are winding and a sense of direction is often more of a hindrance than a help. I always give visitors several alternate routes to wherever I’m directing them, because one wrong turn may send you… Oh, anywhere else but where you thought you were headed. This drives some people crazy and into the sunset anyway, especially when they try to decipher one of my scrawled maps, so be warned: This recipe may not be for you.

2 cups oatmeal

The original recipe, which came by way of the mother of a childhood friend, called for finely-ground oatmeal. I didn’t know where to find that, so I just used what I had (or what my mother had–this was long ago). Quick-cooking or whole rolled oats work just fine, or a combination of the two. I like the texture of whole rolled oats, but the oatcakes look smoother if you use the quick-cooking kind.

1 cup flour

If I have it, I use whole wheat pastry flour. If not, I use half regular whole wheat and half white. Plain white flour works fine, too.

3 teaspoons baking powder

Astonishingly, I haven’t messed with this.

1/2 teaspoon salt

The original recipe called for 1 teaspoon, but I didn’t see the need for extra salt, especially since I like eating oatcakes with cheese.

1/4 cup brown sugar

I think the original recipe called for 1/3 cup, although my memory may be faulty. 1/4 cup is plenty. Imagine, a treat for kids that’s fun to make and not sweet!

1/2 cup butter

The original recipe called for shortening or bacon fat. Shortening works fine, but I don’t buy it any more. Bacon fat makes the oatcakes VERY bacony. (I was the only one who enjoyed that particular batch.) Butter is WONDERFUL, especially if it’s clarified (aka ghee). I always make my oatcakes with butter.

Cold water

Mix the oats, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Rub in the butter with your fingers. Add just enough cold water (usually less than 1/2 cup) to make a stiff dough. Add the water gradually, or suddenly you will find you used way too much, in which case you may have to add another set of dry ingredients and butter and maybe (very carefully) some more water. (Fortunately, this recipe doubles well, and more oatcakes is always better.)

Roll or pat to about 1/4 inch thick. (I always pat. They’re not as smooth this way, but it’s quicker, and I don’t have to find and wash my neglected rolling pin.) Cut in shapes (e.g. triangles, squares, wonky quadrilaterals) or use a cookie cutter. I use a small drinking glass (just under 2.75 inches in diameter) to cut mine.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. There’s no need to grease the cookie sheet. Eat as is or with jam or cheese. Yum!

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