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Simply Special: ode to the humble oatcake

The one thing that is generally first on my list for demonstrating is either oatcakes or soda bread.

Oatcakes
Oatcakes

Both are incredibly easy to make and taste amazing and if I can demonstrate to a non cook something so effective, I reckon they will be hooked instantly.

Oatcakes are to Scotland what baguettes are to the French, or maybe transfer to Mexico for nachos grilled with some cheese, guacamole & salsa and you're off! These flat cakes, made mainly from oats, have for centuries been considered the Scottish national bread. They are quick and easy to make and are a delicious snack or accompaniment to cheese.

High in fibre and full of oaty goodness, they keep you going and they can be turned into something sweet by sprinkling over light brown sugar or adding a few chopped sultanas. However, the ultimate addition is making them using a tablespoon of smokey bacon fat left over from cooking the weekend’s breakfast! The taste is so good and it’s not often you can go and purchase pork fat these days, ask any farmer’s wife and they will agree.

The trick to giving them that wee curl that holds the cheese on is to bake them on top of a red pan tile.

Now you don’t need the bacon fat, or the tile for that matter, you just need some medium oatmeal from the shop and the rest is simple. Make these beauties and you will possibly never buy them again. Go on impress the family this Christmas with some homemade oatcakes on the cheeseboard around 7pm on Christmas day when they are just starting to feel a little peckish again.

Oatcakes
1 pound of medium oatmeal

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

A quarter of a pound of salted butter

Half a pint of water

1 Mix the oatmeal and bicarbonate of soda together

2 Boil the water and butter together and mix them through the oatmeal gradually until you are left with a stiff paste

3 Roll the mixture into sausage shapes and chill

4 Slice the sausage shaped mixture into oatcake sized pieces or shape into rounds and mark before baking

5 Bake in the oven at 180 degrees centigrade (gas mark 6) for 20 to 25 minutes. They should come out firm so pop them back in if you feel they are still a bit soft in the middle.

They will keep in an airtight tin for 2 to 3 weeks or, in the raw dough state, in the fridge ready to slice and bake whenever you need for 8 weeks. No Excuses!

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