Seeded oatcakes with poppy and sesame, my copy of Nairn’s rough oatcakes. Warning: try them with butter and jam at the risk of addiction!
How I got to love Nairn’s
Nairn’s are not paying me. My love for them is completely selfless, and unreciprocated. Though to be fair, I am only so dedicated to one of their products: rough oatcakes. They can keep their bars, cereals and flatbreads: it’s only and always the oatcakes I’m faithful to.
The relationship started years ago, at a particularly hectic period in my pre-cooking career. I was working in London and had hardly time to grab a lunch bite at my desk, let alone go out to eat.
I’d stock up a filing cabinet drawer with Nairn’s Oatcakes (the best use for a filing cabinet, hope those stupid things are extinct these days) and had them daily for lunch on the hoof, accompanied by an apple if I was lucky.
Not a lavish meal, but it kept me going surprisingly well. And contrary to the expectations of oatcake fatigue, I didn’t get fed up.
Conversely, I recently decided to replicate them, which turned out to be very tricky. Yes, I know – what’s wrong with just BUYING them, woman? But it was the compulsive ‘I wonder if I can do one as good’ cook’s mindset that egged me on. And I also fancied playing with adding seeds to the oatcakes.
How to make oatcakes?
Basically oats and water, it turned out the recipe needed some tweaking and fine tuning. If indeed made from just oats and water, they’d dissolve into a million of crumbs , once the water had evaporated.
The dough needed a cohesive element which I chose to be butter rather than the sunflower and palm oils that the label reveals. Goodbye, vegan-friendly snack, but plant oil simply didn’t work in a non-industrial environment: the fat needed to solidify to make the biscuits set.
I added sesame seeds and poppy seeds: both are delightful in these crackers. But if you prefer experimenting with fancy stuff like chia, or super gut-friendly like linseed, go for it. The recipe below makes a small batch of up to twenty cakes, depending on their size.
How to serve oatcakes?
And now what? What do you do with oatcakes then? Aren't they just what’s miserably left behind on the cheese board?
They may well be but that’s because by the time we order the cheese board as afters, we’re stuffed. Usually, in truth we don’t really even fancy the cheese any more, let alone dry, sweetless biscuits.
They have their firm place as an office desk snack as my story tells, come into their own at home. Grab a few with a couple of pieces of cheese for your supper; stack a pile of them for lunch with a massive mixed salad; or do what I do.
My latest discovery, the best and absolutely, dangerously addictive use of oatcakes is to spread them with butter and a lick of jam.
My oatcake addiction
I recently had a phase of going through a box of Nairn’s over a couple of days. They are conveniently packed in portions of seven which I quickly understood as a single serve for me, even though perhaps the intention is to serve four with that amount.
I managed to infect The Weather Man with the passion for butter-and-jam oatcakes and we would happily chomp through half a box on a box-set evening.
Which is even more of a reason why I undertook to make my own: if I have to make the effort of baking them myself, it might make the intake a bit more sensible. That’s in view of the fact that, wholesome and gut friendly as they are, they aren’t calorie free. Especially with the butter and the jam.
More oat recipes
You can make delicious biscuits from a combination of oats and blue cheese.
Classic cookies made with oatmeal and raisins are a little healthy due to the fibre content, and A LOT tasty.
And then, of course, we cannot miss out on flapjack when talking about oats. This version is flavoured with orange and ginger.
More seed recipes
The crackers made from seeds and nothing else, are quite unbelievably delicious. Idea borrowed from Simon Rogan of L’Enclume.
Light seeded rye bread is one of my favourites: wonderful for gut health and more tolerable for people sensitive to gluten.
Poppy seed cake is traditional and buttery, made with poppy seeds softened in milk and baked in the comforting Bundt shape.