We love talking about our oatcakes, but one question we often get is ‘what makes a Derbyshire oatcake different from other types.’
Obviously, our first answer is that ours are the best! But with several countries to explore there is a lot of choices when it comes to oatcakes.
What is an Oatcake
Before looking at the Different types of oatcakes it’s important to know what they all have in common. Oatcakes are documented as far back as 43 AD when the Romans conquered Britain and have existed in several regions. The Primary ingredient of any oatcake is as you may have guessed oats, often mixed with flour and water and cooked on a griddle or baked in an oven.
Their widespread popularity had largely been based on their simple nature and the fact that oats are a hardy crop that can be grown in harsher climates. As you will see the common thread for many locations for oatcakes are hilly and wet conditions.
These actually traditionally take two different forms. Both resemble a large pancake with the first being made using bacon dripping or another animal fat to add flavour. This oatcake would then be eaten on bread as a sandwich filling.
The second form of Welsh oatcake would forgo the fat and be rolled into a slightly thicker cake. This allowed the oatcake to be easily broken up and added to Brewis to thicken the stew and absorb the flavour from the broth.
There is no denying that these are the most commonly known form of the mighty oatcake.
This has to be a result of just how staple of a food oatcakes have been throughout Scottish history. Oatmeal is formed into little disks and moistened with water before being baked on a girdle (griddle). The texture can vary depending on how fine the oats are ground. The Scottish oatcakes get eaten with a wide variety of foods and it can easily be expected as part of breakfast, dinner or even a snack.
Throughout history travellers to Scotland have documented this food as common amongst the Scottish people. Scottish soldiers used to take oatmeal as rations to make their own oatcakes and nuns even used the little biscuits in place of communion wafers.
Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Yorkshire Oatcake.
These all closely resemble the Welsh oatcake in that they are large and flat. They are different from other oatcakes as they contain a higher proportion of flour, these English varieties of oatcake most closely resemble a pancake.
Staffordshire oatcakes tend to be the thickest of all three whilst Derbyshire oatcakes are made finer and thinner. Yorkshire oatcakes are very similar in size to the Staffordshire variety but rather than being baked will be cooked on one side giving them a bubbly appearance.
The Irish have gotten their oatcakes from close historic ties with the Scots. Typically they tend to use less finely ground oatmeal than many of the Scottish varieties would offer. The major difference in Oatcakes between the two countries is that in Ireland oatcakes are typically had with butter, jam or honey rather than as a commonplace addition to a wide range of dishes.
Nova Scotia Oatcakes
Maybe you wouldn’t expect a Canadian entry on this list but with migration from Scotland in the 1700s followed this culinary delight. Distance has however turned these into the type of oatcake that differs the most from the rest. These oatcakes have discovered sugar and are sweet. Modern versions come coated in chocolate or infused with peanut butter. These are popular with a cup of tea or coffee as an afternoon snack.