Last month, Shelagh Crokatt wrote in asking for a recipe for oatmeal cookies made with "real oatmeal, not rolled oats." We'll be looking at some Scottish recipes this week and next, which happily coincides with the 200th anniversary of the Selkirk Settlers. Loads of events are being planned in and around Winnipeg to celebrate the courage, tenacity and sheer stubbornness of these Scottish pioneers.
Thanks to Helen Smiley, who sent in a family recipe for oatmeal shortbread, and to Gwen Litke, who sent in several recipes, including several taken from Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens by Marie Nightingale. This is evidently a trusted kitchen bible for many Nova Scotia cooks. Another kind reader also sent in a recipe from the same cookbook. I couldn't find your name, but I'd like to thank you as well.
This week one of my co-workers, Julie Carl, is hoping somebody has a recipe for celery bread. And Peter Kotyk, who has a bumper crop of apples in his yard and now in his freezer, would love a recipe for apple jacks like they make at Gunn's Bakery. If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to email@example.com, fax it to 697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.
228 g (250 ml or 1 cup) butter
125 ml (1/2 cup) brown sugar
5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla
250 ml (1 cup) all-purpose flour
5 ml (1 tsp) baking soda
500 ml (2 cups) steel-cut oats
Preheat oven to 175C (350F). In a medium bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Add vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. In a small bowl, blend flour, baking soda and oats. Add to butter mixture. Roll into balls (about 2.5 cm or 1 in) and flatten with a fork. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 13-15 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen.
Tester's notes: I really love the juxtaposition of rustic oatmeal and the delicate buttery taste of shortbread. I had a wee bit of trouble with the texture here, I think because I used a brand of hardcore organic steel-cut oats (Bob's Red Mill), which ended up being too gritty for this purpose. (I'll use the rest of them for 20-minute porridge.) I will definitely try again with the shortbread, though, maybe with another brand of steel-cut oats or with Scottish oats, which are still coarse-cut but somewhat softer. My first batch browned a little too quickly, so I cut the heat to 160C (325F) and checked at the 12-minute mark.
Pictou County oatcakes
500 ml (2 cups) oatmeal
250 ml (1 cup) all-purpose flour
250 ml (1 cup) brown sugar, lightly packed
5 ml (1 tsp) salt
175 ml (3/4 cup) shortening
1 ml (1/4 tsp) baking soda
60 ml (1/4 cup) boiling water
Combine dry ingredients and cut in shortening. Dissolve baking soda in the boiling water and add, continuing to mix with a knife. Mould with hands into a log. Slice off and bake at 205C (400F) for 10 minutes.
Tester's notes: Whenever my mom comes to visit, she always buys us oatcakes, and I love them for breakfast with honey. Now that I know how easy they are, I'll bake my own. In sweetness and texture, these delicious oatcakes are somewhere between a biscuit and a cookie. The cookbook mentions that "our Scottish ancestors used 'real oatmeal' and no sweetening," but that sugar had crept into recipes by the beginning of the 20th century. The original recipe said to mould the dough into "a long wedge." I honestly couldn't figure out what that meant, so I made a square-shaped log about 25 cm (10 in) long. I cut off pieces about 6 mm (1/4 in). The dough squished down a bit when cut, so I shaped the oatcakes with my fingers into rough squares on the ungreased cookie sheet. You can also adjust the thickness -- thinner oatcakes will be crispier and thicker oatcakes will be chewier. I used Scottish oatmeal, which can be found at many health food, bulk food and specialty stores.