Silly me. As a kid my next door neighbor, who was from the southern coast of England, used to bake traditional British delights. One of my favorites was a cake like cookie she used to call oat cakes, which had loads of oats, raisins, and nuts presented in a nice triangle that was easy to hold and eat. Always enjoying the cakes with lots of jam I never thought twice about the name oat cake because that is what my neighbor called them and who am I to question a native Brit when it comes to baking traditional fare. She never used recipes so it was only by my memory of watching her bake that I was able to develop a recipe that was a good replica of what she used to make…or at least how I remembered her cakes.
I made my recipe for oat cakes the other day to take to a food blogger meeting to share with all of the other bloggers. The consensus was they were very good and the bloggers were looking forward to this post so they could get the recipe. (Actually all the food was excellent and we all checked each others’ blogs to get the recipes for the sumptuous delights we enjoyed) One person, and I can’t remember who it was, said my oat cakes tasted like scones. Hmmm, that got me thinking, what is the difference between these oat cakes and scones? This recipe results in a baked delight that is similar to a scone…and might even be called a scone.
The comment stuck in my head all weekend and as I was getting ready to share the recipe I thought to myself, what is the difference between an oat cake and a scone? And more importantly, what in the world was I baking, an oatcake or a scone? So I decided to do some research into these two specialties from the British Isles.
I started with my own recipe box and found a recipe for Scottish oat cakes a friend from high school had given me. I remember my friend Susan and her mother making this recipe and having the oat cakes sitting on the counter ready to be consumed while we were studying. The recipe was pretty similar to the recipe I developed with oats, flour, butter, salt, sugar, and baking powder. The raisins, Craisins, and nuts were missing from this recipe so it wasn’t quite the same as mine. Nothing else in my recipe boxes helped me understand the difference between oat cakes and scones.
So I started perusing my cookbooks to do see if I could solve the mystery. I found many recipes for scones and only a few for oatcakes. I noticed that none of the scone recipes had oats…all had just flour. Maybe that was the difference. It also looked like most of the recipes for oat cakes required using a griddle to cook the batter, similar to the way English muffins are made. But not all of the oat cake recipes used the skillet; some were baked in the oven. So the cookbooks didn’t provide me the answer of what I was baking.
Not wanting to run over to the local university that has a top rated cookbook library I decided to take the easy way out and look on the Internet to see if I could uncover the difference between scones and oat cakes. After checking out many sites with scone and oat cake recipes I stumbled upon a website that promotes food tourism in Scotland. The site is a great source of recipes and information about traditional food from Scotland. It was here that the secret of oat cakes and scones became apparent. Consuming oat cakes goes way back in history because oats have been a staple in the diets for people in the British Isles. The oat cakes were unleavened and cooked on griddles over fire. Many years later when leavening became readily available the leavening was used for making cakes that used wheat flour, barley flour, and/or oats. Ah ha, the baked cakes using baking powder were called scones. So from my investigative search (quick and dirty mind you) I learned that oat cakes don’t have baking powder and scones do. So silly me, I was wrong all these years. I haven’t been making oat cakes after all, I’ve been making scones. So thanks to a fellow blogger I found out the truth and I stand corrected.
So here it is my recipe for Oat Scones (formerly known as Oat Cakes). I use pastry flour in this recipe. Pastry flour has a lower protein and gluten content which results in a less chewy, softer baked product. Excuse me for getting technical but not all wheat or all flour is the same and I’ll talk about that in an upcoming post. Low protein flour is used for cakes, biscuits, pastry crusts, and many cookies. You can use all purpose flour if you’d like, the result will be a little chewier.
Many times I use a scale to measure my ingredients instead of cups, etc. A scale never lies! 12 ounces of flour is always 12 ounces where the weight of a cup of flour varies depending on how you put the flour into the cup. Since baking is nothing but a big chemistry project I find using a scale more accurate. So please excuse this little habit of mine.
The recipe can easily be halved if you don’t want so many scones.