I had always loved oatcakes but I had never thought to make them myself until my friend Emily, an American writer then living in the Blue Mountains, just west of Sydney, met a Scottish novelist visiting Australia and began a long distance love affair not only with him, but this one particular specialty of his homeland. She’d return from Glasgow bemoaning the high cost of this Scottish standard in Australian supermarkets. I turned, as you do, to Nigella Lawson. Of course she had the solution. It’s amazing just how easy they are to make and how few ingredients you need, all of which are probably already in your pantry.
Oatcakes aren’t cakes per se, but dense, chewy, savoury crackers on which to pile all manner of good things. I favour cheese, whether a wedge of soft brie or camembert, a sharp cheddar or a stinky blue, ideally embellished with a smear of quince paste. There’s something pleasantly austere about these very plain biscuits. Something straight-forward, no-nonsense. They’re not so much moreish, as satisfyingly substantial, like a bowl of porridge. My grandmother was Scottish and though she never made these for me, they remind me of her in some small way. And now Emily too, since she married the Scot and lived happily ever after on a loch, far, far away.