A Scottish Breakfast – Kippers and Oatcakes:
When I was a little girl my father used to take me up to visit my Great Aunts in Scotland. Morag, Margaret and Jessie lived on the outskirts of Edinburgh, although they’d been born on Skye. All three spoke Gaelic and all three had trained as teachers. When I first read ‘The Pride of Miss Jean Brodie’ I was convinced that my Great Aunts had been the role models!. Driving up from Norfolk, we’d arrive just in time for High Tea, a real feast of sweet and savoury dishes including drop scones, potted meats and home made shortbread. And, nothing more would be eaten till breakfast the next day.
Now, my father liked his cooked breakfast and would be given a plate of scrambled eggs, black pudding and home- made oatcakes. I seem to remember eating cornflakes, which might have been bought just for me…but since I didn’t like eggs that was probably a kindness on the part of my Aunts. They had rather a small house and I suspect the lack of kippers was simply that, unless you cook them in the bag you can have the sweet kippery smokey fragrance around for a long time. But, there’s no one here who is going to complain if I cook them…so, here’s my Scottish breakfast. The kippers were sent to me by John at DelishFish and are real scottish smoked kippers. They are paler than those you will generally find on sale here and rather sweeter and smokier. I’m not putting a recipe up for them, I simply fried these in butter for a few minutes. If you are feeling healthy, then you can grill them or cook them in the bag just by placing them in a large pan of hot water from the kettle and leaving them for 10 minutes.
You should be using pinhead oats for the oatcakes. It’s oat that has been cut rather than rolled to give a nutty grainy effect. If you can’t find any, then blitz up some rolled oats in a food processor. You will get a slightly different result but one that, for me at least, is just as acceptable.
- 250 g Pinhead Oatmeal If you can't find pinhead, try zapping rolled oats in a food processor
- 40 g Unsalted Butter
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 6-7 tablespoons Water
- Melt the butter in 6 tablespoons of water
- Mix the oats, baking power and salt together and make a well in the middle
- Pour in the butter and water mixture
- Mix together with your fingers till you have a dough, adding more water if necessary
- Butter a baking tray and heat the oven to 200c
- Put the dough into the centre of the tray and press out with your fingers so that you have a round about 1/4 cm thick. Score into shortbread style triangles. Or, if you want a 'neat' biscuit, roll out the dough on a lightly floured board and use a cookie cutter to cut out rounds
- Bake for 20 minutes or so till the edges of the biscuits start to go a golden brown colour.
- Serve for breakfast instead of bread or toast, or with cheese as part of a cheeseboard after dinner.
Oats were one of the few plants to grow up in Scotland in the Highlands and Islands, so Oatcakes were a staple breakfast dish. And they would have been cooked on a griddle rather than in the oven. It’s a little faster but if you are making one large oatcake to break up, a bit tricky to turn…so I’ve done these in the oven.
The oatcakes will keep in an airtight tin for a few days and are nice served with cheese or butter and jam. You can add other flavours in too, herbs or a little cheese, or if you want sugar, spice and dried fruit. Traditionally these would have been made with lard, but I DO like them made with unsalted butter.