The North Staffordshire Oatcake

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The North Staffordshire Oatcake is a culinary delicacy almost entirely unknown outside the North Stafforshire area of. England. It has been described as a Tunstall tortilla, a potteries poppadom, a clay suzette and my friend from Bradford calls it an "Oat Flannel", because that is what it looks like. A proper oatcake is at least 9 inches in diameter, and is crepe-like in appearance.

Hundreds of thousands are made each year, many from closely guarded family secrets and potteries people love 'em. Recently Sainsburys' have started to sell the oatcake as a speciality bakery item in their supermarkets from Lands End to John O'Groats, but these are poor imitations of the real thing; being too small and often with a rubbery texture.

Legend has it that the oatcakes' origins lie in British Colonial India. Apparently the Staffordshire lads who served in the military there noticed the local flat-bread (japaties), and tried to duplicate them when they returned home. They substituted some of the affordable ingredients on hand, and found these little beauties were grand fare to tuck into one's pocket before entering the mines.

Oatcakes themselves are quite healthy and are a good source of fibre. However the foods that go with them are not necessarily so, so be careful. They freeze well and are probably the best microwave food in the world. Simply roll up some grated cheese, cooked bacon, tomato, cooked mushrooms - or in fact anything you like and microwave on full for about a minute each. You can also grill them or eat cold. Some times I make an oatcake cheese sandwich, with BIG chunks of cheese, although my favourite is a cheese, bacon and egg double, with brown sauce.

They can also be served with jam or eaten plain.

How To Make Them

This is probably left to the experts, but if you want to make them yourselves follow the following recipe, which makes 12.

8 oz fine oatmeal
8 oz wholewheat or plain flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 oz fresh yeast
1 1/2 pints warm milk and water, mixed half and half
1 tsp sugar


1. Add salt to flour and oatmeal.

2. Dissolve yeast with a little warm liquid and add sugar. Allow to become frothy.

3. Mix dry ingredients with yeast and rest of warm liquid to make a batter.

4. Cover with clean cloth and leave in warm place for 1 hour.

5. Bake on well-greased griddle. Put enough batter onto griddle to produce an oatcake about 8 or 9 inches in diameter. The surface will be covered in holes as it cooks. Turn oatcake after 2-3 minutes when upperside appears dry and underside is golden brown, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Eat as soon as possible. Oatcakes freeze well.

For more information visit and type oatcake into their search engine.

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