Farls and Bannocks: Back to Bread

Although my usual ramblings focus on the things I am eating while pootling about in the Riviera (be it the Plymothian, French or Italian), today I have cast my nets back awhile to the travellers of the past. I read a lot of fantasy novels; George RR Martin, J RR Tolkein, Tamora Pearce and the like, and many of these are set in times akin to the medieval period of the world, when knights errant dashed about doing daring deeds for the hands of young maidens. In all of these novels there are long journeys that must be completed, a metaphor if you like for the spiritual journey we all must take along the way to get from cradle to casket. The food on these journeys plays a big role; after all, nothing beats food cooked over an open fire followed by a night under the stars. One such morsel that I have always thought I wanted to try was oatcakes. They are mentioned with such relish, when heated on hot rocks by the fire and served with honey, my mouth genuinely starts watering at the thought and I have to satisfy myself with a cup of tea and a digestive. To begin with, I thought perhaps the adventurers were munching on a bit of flapjack, however I soon realised that knights do not carry round supplies of golden syrup, nor copious quantities of butter, with which to make flapjacks. So after years of wondering, I finally went and found some recipes on line, ones that made oatcakes that Sir Lancelot might have munched many years ago.

Oatcakes

Oatmeal, butter (traditionally bacon fat, if you have it), salt, water

Mix 125g of oatmeal with a pinch of salt and four teaspoons of melted butter. Use water to then mix it into a stiff paste. Cover a surface with a little flour and turn out the crumbly paste onto it. Divide the mix into two. With the first half, roll it into a ball and knead it together with hands covered in flour. Flatten the ball into a circle a little smaller than a small frying pan, it should be about ¼ inch thick. Slice it into quarters and then fry in the lightly greased frying pan for about 3mins on each side. Get the other half of the mix ready while you’re frying the first part. Makes 8 farls, or 2 bannocks. Much easier than bread and far nicer than toast, with a bit of honey or jam for breakfast in the morning, these are delicious hot and straight from the pan and they take next to no time to prepare (or eat, make more than you think you need, I’m warning you now!).

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