Beltane Bannocks, also known as Celtic Oatcakes
We eat a lot of oats in this house. I don’t know why, something about them is just so comforting, and although they taste rather bland, it’s a nice bland taste. They are easy to dress up, versatile and well, we just love them.
One staple in our home is the humble Celtic (or Scottish) Oatcake (or bannock). It’s a small disc of oats, its super-easy to make and it fills you up fast. They are fantastic as a breakfast bread, the kids love to put honey or preserves on them. It takes a long time for them to go bad, although they don’t taste as good as when they are right out of the oven.
These Oatcakes are a very old tradition. There is evidence certain groups of Celts used it as a mainstay, especially when travelling. Certainly there is no doubt it was a popular food in Scotland dating at least back to the Roman Conquest. It is still a popular food item in the homes of Scotland. In parts of Scotland, it remains a part of the Beltane tradition. It is said that if you eat one on Beltane morning, you’ll be guaranteed an abundant year.
Lots of people enjoy making something out of oats at Beltane to help ensure a fruitful and abundant year to come. Celtic Oatcakes are an easy way to incorperate that tradition and it may become a regular thing at your house too!
There are so many different recipes to be found online, all a basic combination of oats, water and salt. Yep, that’s it! Some people like to fry them in butter or animal fat (they are pretty tasty fried in bacon fat).
Here is my basic recipe:
Falling Day’s Celtic Oatcakes
1 Cup Oats
(I usually use rolled, but you can play around with anything but instant)
2 tablespoons fat (Butter, lard, bacon grease, whatever)
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
a little salt
Optional: Any spices you want to play around with
little more than half a cup of hot water
Preheat the oven to 355F. Combine oats, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add the butter and hot water and mash it all up (you could stir it with a wooden spoon, I like to just get my hands in there for a more dense oatcake). It should be the consistency of a soft paste. Sprinkle your work surface with oats or flour. Roll out the dough–thickness is up to you. I think mine is usually somewhere between 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Use a glass (or if you’re fancy, a cookie cutter) to make your oatcakes. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and cook or about 15 minutes. Take those babies out and allow them to cool on a cooling rack and then enjoy!
Hints and Tips
You may want to grind your oats, or throw them in a food processor for a few pulses, depending on the kind of oat you used and how much you like having the full oat in your oatcake.
If you want to add spices (or sugar) put this in the bowl with the oats, salt and baking soda.
Some people like to throw some flour in to give it a more familiar consistency. If I do this, I usually also add an egg.
If you make these, or any oatcakes/bannocks for Beltane, I’d love to see a picture or a recipe in the comments!