One not-so-fine Saturday about a month ago (the weather was more like today rather than the glorious sun we had last week), I joined May and Su-Lin Ong at Maltby Street to see what the fuss was about. “Better than Borough Market” were the words that seemed to flit about on my screen and it is indeed a lovely market full of lovely things to eat and buy. One thing that stood out was the freshly made Staffordshire oatcakes filled with onion and Lancashire cheese – it was all buttery and toasty and cheesy and hot and yes, we fell in love with it. I vowed to make Staffordshire oatcakes at home.
And so I did. Mention oatcakes to anyone and I would think most people would think of the Scottish kind – the oatmeal cracker I always see eaten with cheese. Staffordshire ones are like pancakes, only oaty, and their nuttiness pair well with cheeses and meats. We wrapped cooked streaky bacon, finely chopped red onion and cheese in ours, letting the pancake toast gently in a frying pan to get the cheese melting. The whole lot was polished off by the two of us and it all made for a fine Sunday brunch. I gather that filling them is the most popular way to eat them followed by eating them on the side as a bread substitute.
Of course, if you can’t be faffed to make your own at home, some of the larger supermarkets sell packets of them ready made. And if you’re in North Staffordshire, well, it seems they are everywhere.
adapted from this recipe.
120g finely ground oatmeal (I took rolled oats and blitzed them in my mini chopper)
120g white or wholewheat flour (I used white)
500ml warm water
7g dried yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sunflower oil
50ml warm water
In a small bowl, mix the yeast, sugar and about 50ml of the first batch of warm water and set aside until frothy.
In a large bowl, mix together the oatmeal, flour, and salt and then pour in the frothy yeast mixture, the oil and the rest of the warm water. Whisk together well.
Leave the mixture in a warm place to proof for about 30 mins to 1 hour. After that time is up, whisk again and then whisk in the final 50ml of warm water.
Now cook them as you do for pancakes (the British kind – not the thick American style ones but like French crepes but slightly thicker). For my 10 inch frying pan, a ladleful of batter was perfect. Use a little butter if you need to but I found that my nonstick pan didn’t need any greasing. Cook on both sides until brown/speckled with dark brown. Repeat with all your remaining batter.
Serve them on the side of your meal (like a fryup?) or as I chose to, fill em with something and warm them up (maybe with a little butter on the outside!). They keep pretty well too and only need heating up before eating.