The traditional oatcake is a very simple thing to make (perhaps the most simple) and as a result, is a great food to explore cooking on the campsite.
Tellingly, the food has it origins in the kitbags of the Scottish infantry where the food evolved as a quick means to cook a highly available food stuff into a meal. Medium ground oatmeal was bagged and packed for long marches, then mixed with fat and water, balled up and flattened onto a standard-issue metal plate. The plate was then held over a flame and cooked as if over a griddle, flipping when the edges brown. This makes a simple meal for the squaddie on the go and as a food recipe, it offers us a very nice platform to experiment with flavours.
1 cup of oatmeal (medium grade)
1 table spoon of butter, melted
1 half cup of water or milk (or 1 egg white if course meal is used)
Pinch of salt and/or sugar
Mix the oatmeal, salt, fat and water/milk/egg binding agent in a bowl until you are able to make balls of mixture that flatten without breaking apart.
Ball up golf ball sized portions of mixture and flatten out onto a greased pan. Hold the pan over a camp fire/stove until the edges just start to brown. Flip and cook on the reverse side.
Place on a tray to cool.
Some might argue that oatcakes are not the most flavoursome food on their own, tasting much like thinly-salted porridge biscuits. The easiest way to change the flavour of an oatcake is to replace the added salt with something else e.g. additional sugar, spices or herbs. You can also swap the fat for something more flavoured, such as coconut oil. Store brought essance flavourings are easy to throw in and certain wild combinations produce interesting and cheeky results. We experimented with a number of them:
- Vanilla and cinnamon
- Citrus essences, such as lemon/lime with added sugar.
- Rose water
- Peppermint and bitter orange.
Dried and powered foodstuffs such as seaweed (good for unami) are also interesting options. Just add more or less water/milk to help it all bind.
Happy food hacking!