Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Gluten free staffordshire oatcakes

It's snowing today, Ive got a stinking cold and a husband laid up with a bad back. The only sensible response to all of that is oatcakes with bacon and cheese for breakfast. Oatcakes freeze beautifully and make a very fast, filling meal. They can be quickly reheated and are a fantastic way to make leftovers into a treat.

 It's hard to say how many this recipe will make. I made around 15 last night, plus a few that went in the bin! It depends on how thick you make them, how wide, and how many go wrong before you get the hang of it.

8 oz/ 225 g gluten free oats
8 oz/ 225 g gluten free flour*
1 Tbsp/ 15g dried active yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 pint warm water
1 pint warm milk (you may need more to thin the batter)
1/2 pint / 284 ml buttermilk

Grind the oats into a fine meal in a blender or food processor. This only takes a minute or so and doesn't have to be perfect. Or you can buy oatmeal but I've never seen a gluten free one. Add the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Stir to mix all the dry ingredients thoroughly. Add the warm water, milk and buttermilk and whisk until it's a smooth batter. Cover and leave for an hour in a warm spot.
 Wipe a frying pan with a little oil and heat it up.  I use a non stick chapatti pan I got from Wilkinson's. It's amazing for pancakes, tortillas, oatcakes... all sorts. Traditionally you should use a cast iron frying pan but mine has bacon in it! You need a medium high heat for these. If your batter seems to be a good consistency (thicker than pancake batter but you need to be able to spread it easily so not too much thicker) then great! You may need to add some extra milk. I find it best to try out an oat cake then adjust as necessary. Put some batter on your pan - how much depends on how big you're going to make your oatcakes. I suggest starting with a fairly small one - a few spoonfuls of mixture. For a full size oatcake a ladle full does the trick nicely. Use the back of a spoon to gently spread the mixture out into a circle - pushing the mixture outwards does this best. You want the mixture to be about 3mm thick while cooking and to have holes forming. While it's cooking, the oatcake is sticky and tricky to move. Wait until the top is set and dry looking (if the bottom is over cooking before this happens, reduce the heat) then flip it over and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Just like pancakes, they tend to get better as you go along!

 The traditional filling is bacon and cheese. However just about anything is great in an oatcake! Sausage, mushrooms, onions, leftover cooked chicken, roasted vegetables... If you insist, you can even have them sweet with pancake type fillings. I tend to fill mine with leftovers and cheese while still hot so the cheese melts.

 One of the best things about oatcakes is how well they freeze and how fast you can make a meal with them from frozen! Cool your oatcakes right down before freezing them with a piece of parchment between them so you can take out however many you want. Wrap them up tightly or put them in a big ziplock bag with the air sucked out to prevent freezer burn.
 When you want to cook them, you can defrost them if you are organized. If you are more like me, take them out and put one in the frying pan. Cook for a minute on the first side, then flip. I then add my filling and transfer it to a plate to roll and eat when the cheese starts to melt. You could also put them in the microwave (I don't have one), steam them between two plates over a pan of water (traditional) or warm them in the oven for a few minutes (just watch they don't dry out).

* I favour the mock better batter blend from the book 'gluten free on a shoestring - quick and easy'. It gives good all round results but sadly is quite pricy. Doves farm plain also works. I would suggest that tapioca starch makes up part of the gluten free flour as its great for making things bendy. If you are using flour with out it, I recommend adding a tsp of xanthan gum to the batter with the flours.

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