Scottish Oat and Walnut Biscuits ~ these unassuming little oatcakes are the hottest things in upscale markets and cheese shops these days. They’re called oatcakes or biscuits in Scotland; we Americans would call them crackers.
But they’re not like any crackers we’re used to. They’re rustic, earthy, and a little shaggy around the edges. They’ve been favorites in the British Isles for centuries where they eat them with tea, or cheese and other savory toppings. They’re amazing with a sharp crumbly English cheddar or a creamy soft blue cheese and a dab of honey. Or even a thick layer of peanut butter. Best of all they’re quick and easy to make. The simple naturally gluten free dough is made from ground oats and oat flour, mixed with buttermilk, and a little melted butter to form a flat ‘cake’, and then baked till crisp. A touch of brown sugar adds a hint of sweetness, and the walnuts add great flavor.
Making these reminds me that the whole concept of flavor is in transition right now. I’ve been really horrified by the ‘flavor overload’ in commercial food these days. Have you seen the ads for ‘water enhancer’? It turns your plain water a neon color of your choice, and flavors it with god knows what. They have the same basic concept for canned frosting, too. Even Crayola has gotten into the act with their own line of vividly colored liquid ‘juice alternatives’.
I don’t know where all that leaves plain old simple pleasures like these oatcakes. You have to pause and let them linger on your tongue for a moment to appreciate their subtle oatiness, their delicate crumbly texture, and the faint hint of brown sugar and walnuts. But the time is well spent. And once you add a chunk of English cheddar you’ll really ‘get’ these crackers.
You can pay a lot of money for the priviledge of having someone else bake and import these rustic cakes for you, or you can just whip them up yourself and spend the money on a nice bottle of wine. Or a few extra bottles of Guinness.
Scottish Oat and Walnut Biscuits
oven to 350
makes about 2 dozen biscuits
1 cup walnut pieces
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups oat flour
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup melted butter
- Put the oats and the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground
- Add in the oat flour, sugar, salt and soda and pulse to combine.
- Pour in the buttermilk and melted butter and pulse until the dough comes together.
- Turn out onto a floured surface and bring the dough together. If it feels wet, knead in a little more flour.
- Roll out the dough to about 3/8 inch thick. Cut with a 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter. You can prick the crackers with the tines of a fork if you like the look, but it’s not necessary, the dough doesn’t rise or puff up.
- Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container.