15 January, 2011

Thyme-Scented Oatcakes

I love watching food programs on TV. One program that has almost turned into an addiction is Come Dine With Me on BBC. Four or five amateur chefs competing against each other by hosting a dinner party for the other contestants. Each competitor then rates the host's performance. The winner gets £1,000 cash. The contestants are of the people-next-door type, although the combination of people adds the zest. The comments of the sarcastic narrator make it a true comedy.
I watch it for easy entertainment more than for the actual cooking. However, I couldn't help noticing that many British people seem to like things mashed. Why on earth would you mash peas, carrots, turnips, beans, cauliflower? It's mashed and then the mash is put next to the fish, or meat. That's it.
I asked my husband why he thinks the mashing was so popular. His reply was that by mashing you can hide overcooked or undercooked food. Is that so? Please, enlighten me.
I hope I don't sound too critical, as there is British food that I absolutely relish: oatcakes for example. I was quite happy with the store-bought ones until I saw a recipe for thyme-scented oatcakes on My Custard Pie, a fellow Dubai food blog. The ingredients list couldn't be any shorter. All ingredients are as healthy as can be.  And I love the fact that these oatcakes do not contain any flour of sorts.
So off I went to get the thyme. And decided to make them, when I had only 30 minutes left before I had to leave the house for some errand. I got them done in that time and they turned out beautifully: these crackers are all oats and thyme, just as the ingredients list promises. They keep crispy for days. And that means a lot, especially here in Dubai where high humidity makes every crispy cookie into something rubber-like within 24 hours. These oatcakes will be a hit on any cheeseboard. Or as an appetizer with cream cheese and smoked salmon, or whatever savory topping you prefer. A definite keeper!!!
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THYME-SCENTED OATCAKES
adapted from My Custard Pie

(Print Recipe)

200g/8oz fine oatmeal (I used stone-ground medium oatmeal)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves 
6-8 tablespoons boiling water

Yields 10-15 oatcakes
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Preheat the oven to 180C/375F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Measure the oatmeal, oil, salt and 2/3rds of the fresh thyme into the bowl of a food processor. Whizz until everything is combined well.  While keeping the motor running, pour in the boiling water, one tablespoon at a time. You might need less than 8 tablespoons. So be careful from the 5th spoonful on.  After 30-45 seconds the mixture will begin to come together and look sticky and thick (switch off, scrape down and repeat if it doesn’t). Add the remaining thyme and pulse a few times to chop it roughly.
Gather the dough up into a ball, with your hands or a spatula. Place on a floured board and roll out, while still warm, to about 2mm thick. With a cookie cutter, cut out rounds or any any other shape and place on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 15-17 minutes until lightly colored.  Cool on a wire rack then store in an airtight container.

11 comments:

  1. I absolutely love oat cakes, but hte pre-packaged ones are pretty pricey. I've always wanted to try making them myself. . . and now I can! I never noticed the mashing habit, but it does makes sense about overcooking. . . hmmm!

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  2. I am British but I have no idea where the mash idea came from. I personally don't know why anyone would bother, it's double the amount of effort and makes cleaning up so much more difficult. Yet I do have to make potato mash every so often to keep the other half happy!

    The only time I actually want to mash veg is on Burn's night, mashed turnip ("neeps") are a must for any Burn's supper here in Scotland. I think this is because boiled turnip is a little slimy.

    Anyway thanks for the recipe I have been looking for an oatcake recipe and since I grow my own thyme this will be perfect. Thanks!!

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  3. There are so many ways to enjoy these! They look delicious on their own, but accompanied with a side would be pleasent to. Nice recipe.

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  4. I love oatcakes but my recipes always include flour. I love the addition of fresh herbs.

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  5. Glad you liked the oatcakes. I'm British and love creamy, mashed potatoes - the trick is to get the right consistency, not lumpy but not so pureed that it's like baby food. A potato ricer followed by beating with a wooden spoon does it for me - oh yes and a good knob of butter, some cream and lots of black pepper. Not the healthiest I'm afraid but the only thing to go with sausages or fantastic on top of a fish pie. The only other thing I've had mashed is swede - I think mashing other veg together is a Come Dine With Me phenomenon!

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  6. absolutely endless possibilities for variations and combinations of herbs and spice. as they bake my kitchen is infused with my intuitive combo of caraway, crushed red pepper, lavender, and thyme. delicious awaits!

    p.s of course simplicity has it's virtue too!

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  7. just made these, they are awesome, very tasty!
    -Anne

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  8. hi there can i try these with cinnamon instead of thyme leaves and if so should i add other ingredients... thanks.

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  9. can i try these instead of thyme leaves and if so should i add other ingredients.. thanks.

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  10. can i just say you should publish a book, fantastic recipes.

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  11. Do you have a rough idea how many calories are in one batch? :)

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