medieval oatcake recipe?

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IanS
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medieval oatcake recipe?

Postby IanS » Thu May 03, 2012 9:53 am

I know Oat cakes have been eaten by peasants and royalty over there years but I'm after a genuine medieval oatcake recipe to make on a hot plate with Scouts in June but all I can find is peoples adaptations of various oat cakes they have liked best on Google searches. Does anyone know of an authentic Medieval oat cake recipe that is easy to make and cooked over an open fire please?



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sally
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Re: medieval oatcake recipe?

Postby sally » Thu May 03, 2012 10:06 am

I'll be interested if you can find one written down anywhere, it broadly comes under the sort of cooking that was so simple and 'common' (as in, not for posh people) that I'd be fairly surprised to see it written in any formal way.

It tends to work something like: stir oats round with a bit of fat on the griddle until well coated in oil, add a splash of hot water, poke into a paste, knuckle it flat, cook til the edges curl and its done (no bowl, no turning, no tools needed, just a flat griddle or hot stone)



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Re: medieval oatcake recipe?

Postby Phil the Grips » Thu May 03, 2012 10:17 am

No recipes, but Froissart's chronicle is a provenance for Sally's method being used by Scots light cavalry during raids in the C14th.


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Re: medieval oatcake recipe?

Postby bilbobaglin » Fri Jul 20, 2012 7:23 pm

Do you happen to have chapter and verse of that Froissart provenance?



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Brother Ranulf
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Re: medieval oatcake recipe?

Postby Brother Ranulf » Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:26 am

On the one hand oat cakes seem to be "simple and 'common'" (quoting Sally's earlier post) and on the face of it this seems reasonable.

On the other hand oatcakes are notably absent from all the medieval monastic sign lists, which cover foodstuffs, among other things, in very great detail. Meals in monasteries and convents were eaten in total silence (except for one person acting as the Daily Reader, who read aloud from religious texts), so everything had to be communicated by means of sign language. The various lists from Cluny, Fleury, Canterbury, Hirsau and elsewhere include signs for many different kinds of breads, cheeses, cheese flans, crepes, fish species, individual vegetables, fruits, flavourings, fats and herbs as well as many kinds of drinks. Oatcakes do not feature anywhere.

Monastic sign lists first appeared before 1000 AD and were revised over time, but remained in use in England until the 1500s. It seems very strange that a simple and common foodstuff would not be included.


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Re: medieval oatcake recipe?

Postby John Waller » Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:51 pm

bilbobaglin wrote:Do you happen to have chapter and verse of that Froissart provenance?


From
The antient chronicles of Sir John Froissart : of England, France, Spain, Portugal, Scotland, Brittany, and Flanders, and the adjoining countries / translated from the original French, at the command of King Henry the Eighth, by John Bourchier, Lord Berners.

They take with them no purveyance of bread nor wine, for their usage
and soberness is such in time of war, that they will pass in the
journey a long time, with flesh half soden, without bread, and
drink of the river water without wine: and they neither care for
pots or pans, for they boil beasts in their own skins. They are
ever sure to find plenty of beasts in the country that they pass
through. Therefore they carry with them no other purveyance,
but on their horse: between the saddle and the pannel, they place
a broad plate of metal, and behind the saddle, they will have a
little sack full of oatmeal, to the intent that when they have eaten
of the sodden flesh, then they lay this plate on the fire, and
moisten a little of the oatmeal: and when the plate is hot, they
cast some of the thin paste thereon, and so make a little cake in
manner of a crak'nel, or biscuit, and that they eat to comfort their
stomachs. Wherefore it is no great wonder that they make
greater journies than other people do.


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Re: medieval oatcake recipe?

Postby Biro » Tue Mar 26, 2013 2:05 pm

Any ideas on stopping them from sticking to your knuckles (and burning them!) while you flatten it?

Also, would I be correct in thinking that this was just the 'base' oatcake, and that there may have been other variations of it - with other 'stuff' thrown in where available? Berries/fruit etc.



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Re: medieval oatcake recipe?

Postby Sophia » Tue Mar 26, 2013 4:23 pm

Put a little fat on the bake stone - a solid lump of bacon fat is good as you can easily wipe it over the surface. When it comes to shaping the cake wet your hands before hand as it will stop the mix sticking (you may need to do this in between as well). To turn them whittle yourself a wooden spatula or use your knife. (Experience gained from making drop pancakes on metal bake stone in my pre-Kosher scouting days.)


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Re: medieval oatcake recipe?

Postby Scottish Lady » Sun Mar 31, 2013 1:57 pm

Although I'm mostly doing 17thC onwards, I don't think the basic recipe, or practicalities change. I melt some fat,(butter, bacon fat) in a small amount of hot water and add the oatmeal. Quickly make into a ball, and then flatten it out on your heated girdle as thinly as possible, (thats Scot's for griddle, before anyone makes any funny remarks!). If you want smaller pieces, cut it into wedges before it dries out, otherwise it will crumble. Only ever cook it on one side, it curls upwards as it cooks and if you try to turn it over it will just crumble again. The top of the oatcakes can be toasted by propping them up beside the fire. Only ever make up small quantities at a time, the mixture can be spread out easily while it's still hot, but let it cool down and it's back to oatmeal again when you try to work it.


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Re: medieval oatcake recipe?

Postby Brother Ranulf » Tue Apr 02, 2013 7:20 am

Dr Johnson, when compiling his English dictionary in 1755, defined oats as " a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people." This is long after the medieval period, but add it (as likely continuance of a long tradition in England) to the lack of period recipes from England, the absence of oat cakes in the Forme of Cury and in medieval monastic diet across all of Europe, plus the known specific link to Scots cavalry mentioned above and you can draw your own conclusions . . .


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Henri De Ceredigion
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Re: medieval oatcake recipe?

Postby Henri De Ceredigion » Tue Apr 02, 2013 7:57 am

Am I therefore to understand that modern day oatcakes aren't anything like Middle Ages ones?



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Re: medieval oatcake recipe?

Postby Cat » Thu Apr 04, 2013 9:45 pm

I believe modern oatcakes have flour in to prevent crumbling.

You could try the Stafford oat cake, which seems to be* a pancake made with part flour and part fine oatmeal. The modern ones are so holey that they must contain a raising agent, but I don't know whether this is yeast or bicarb.

* I like them very much but have never seen them made.


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Re: medieval oatcake recipe?

Postby Sophia » Thu Apr 04, 2013 11:26 pm

Staffordshire oatcakes are 50/50 wheat and oatflour and raised with yeast. Normally contain milk and lard or similar but can be adapted for veggies/vegans. Plenty of recipes on the web.


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Re: medieval oatcake recipe?

Postby SteveC » Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:42 am

There is a C17 recipe which uses yeast as a raising agent:
To make Oat-Cakes.       Take fine Flower, and mix it very well with new Ale Yeſt, and make it very ſtiff, then make it into little Cakes, and roul them very thin, then lay them on an Iron to bake, or on a baking ſtone, and make but a ſlow fire under it, and as they are baking, take them and turn the edges of them round on the Iron, that they may bake also, one quarter of an hour will bake them; a little before you take them up, turn them on the other ſide, only to flat them; for if you turn them too ſoon, it will hinder the riſing, the Iron or Stone whereon they are baked, muſt ſtand at a diſtance from the fire.

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I made some of these at the weekend with just fine oatmeal and yeast (activated in warm water with a little touch of sugar). The came out a bit like the Nairn's oatcakes -- more biscuity than anything else. They need salt adding and next time I try them I will allow the dough to rest before rolling the cakes out as they didn't really get a chance to rise.




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