25 November 2012

Staffordshire Oatcakes, Baked Apples, The Hobbit, and More

"In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."
                                                                                                         - JRR Tolkien

So begins the finest of stories of dwarves and elves, of wizards and dragons, bravery and adventure, of hobbits and a quest. The best stories always have a life-changing quest at their center, don't you think?

Last week, I took SB over to the family farm to hang out with his brothers and fellow hunting friends. They went on their annual hunting quest, in search of the perfect deer and I held down the fort. I had plenty of sewing projects to keep me busy and in the evenings I got the fires going and settled in for a chapter or two of  The Hobbit. The film adaptation is being waited for with great excitement, here in the States. It seems that this winter season will bring a host of good movies, but this one is our family's personal favorite.

In honor of Bilbo and his grand adventure, I'm making tea and oatcakes and baked apples. I have a bottle of mead and may crack it open to have just a smidge. I think Bilbo would approve. Of course, I have the honey to drizzle on one or two, but I will be making mine for supper ... and supper requires a bit more sustenance, so it's bacon and mushrooms and a bit of cheese that I'll be adding to my oatcakes. I'm sure Bilbo would approve! ( I found the recipe at the BBC website; it comes from a Brit cooking/travel show called The Hairy Bikers Cookbook. Hmmm ... never having seen it, I'm curious. ) I have changed the recipe just a bit ... because I am learning about bread making and cake making and cooking ... and what I like.

Since The Hobbit begins with an unexpected party, I thought I'd celebrate The Spice Garden's third anniversary - not all that unexpected. I just remembered, as I browsed through back posts looking to see if I'd posted a favorite recipe of gulaschsuppe.  While I contemplated making gulaschsuppe, I made the oatcake batter ... then I went Christmas shopping and left the batter to sit all afternoon to develop the glutens and soften the oats.

While I was out shopping, I bought two HUGE Macoun apples to use for sweet lemon-y sugar-y baked apples. Can you think of anything more home-y and delish as a baked apple and an oatcake wrapped around bacon, scallions, Cheddar, and chunks of butter-y mushrooms?  I ask you.

My goodness! Three years and over a thousand good meals and sweets shared, friends made all over cyberspace, a culinary bucket list beginning, many a cyberpath traipsed there and back again to my little garden, and so much learned! It's been a wonderful adventure! A delicious quest ... the finest kind! Stick a candle in one of these and help me celebrate!

Here are the recipes ... worthy, both!

Staffordshire Oatcakes
adapted from The Hairy Bikers’ recipe


8 oz. old-fashioned oats, ground to a semi-fine texture
3 ½  oz. oat flour
¼ c. wheat germ
3 ½ oz. all purpose wheat flour
1 rounded tsp. active dry yeast
⅛ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. sugar
825 ml. warm water ( 109 °F)
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sugar
24 strips of fatty bacon
6 oz. Crimini mushrooms, rubbed clean and quarters
5 oz. Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
2 – 3 scallions, washed and cut into thin coins
Olive oil pan spray for cooking the oatcakes
2 tbsp. butter for cooking the mushrooms

NOTE: This recipe is one for a day when you can let the oatcake batter sit to mature while you do other things …

Making the Oatcakes:

  1. Whisk the prepared oats, oat flour, wheat germ, flour, yeast, salt, and sugar in a deep bowl.
  2. Add the warm water and whisk things together briskly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a large towel and set the bowl in a place where it won’t get disturbed. Leave it for four hours and up to eight hours.
  3. When you are ready to make the dish, grate the cheese, chop the scallions, fry the bacon and set it to drain on a paper towel, and sauté the mushrooms in the butter.
  4. Set all these ingredients aside, while you heat a large non-stick fry pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Add the baking powder and 1 tsp. sugar to the oatcake batter and whisk it in well.
  6. When the pan is hot, spray it with olive oil cooking spray and quickly ladle a soup ladle of batter into the pan, using the bottom of the ladle to spread the batter into a large circle ( about 8 inch across). Cook like you do pancakes, when the bubbles burst and the edges of the cake get dry-ish, flip it. The oatcakes should be golden and semi-crisp.
  7. Continue spritzing the pan and making oatcakes until the batter is gone – you should be able to make about 10 – 12 cakes.
  8. Place the oatcakes on a cookie sheet and warm them in a 275 ° F oven. They will keep well for an hour or so before they begin to dry out.
  9. Fifteen minutes before plating, place the oatcakes in a single layer, bottom-side up, on a long baking sheet.
  10. Place two pieces of bacon on one half of each oatcake, divide the scallions, cheese, and mushrooms and sprinkle them over the bacon, sprinkle on plenty of black pepper, and fold the oatcake over top. Press gently to make the oatcake hold an ‘omelet shape’.
  11. Place in the oven and let the oatcakes warm thoroughly to melt the cheese and warm everything well.
  12. Serve piping hot with a baked apple on the side … or a green salad.
Baked Apples for Two


2 huge Macoun or Cortland apples ( or your favorite baking apples)
4 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp. currants
Zest from one lemon
2 tsp. lemon juice
A generous pinch cinnamon
2 tbsp. melted butter plus some soft butter to butter the cooking pan

Making the Apples:

  1. Pre heat oven to 375 ° F and butter a small baking dish.
  2. Use an apple corer tool to remove the apple cores … without breaking a hole in the bottom of the apple. That’s an important point in prep. Run a sharp knife around the top of the apple, slicing off a circle of the top peel and exposing some of the apple’s flesh.
  3. Sprinkle the lemon juice down into the center of each apple and over the top of the apple.
  4. Mix the sugar, lemon zest, currants and cinnamon in a small bowl and divide the mixture between the apples, sprinkling some over the top of the apple and packing the apples’ cavities with the sweet currants and sugar.
  5. Drizzle the melted butter over and into the apples.
  6. Place in the center of a pre-heated oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  7. Turn the oven off and let the apples rest for ten minutes before serving.







  1. Wonderful! I love the way you've styled your photos...these are definitely fit for a celebration, congratulations, three years is an amazing accomplishment!

  2. Happy Anniversary, this food looks amazing! Keep up the good work! XO

  3. oh I LOVED The Hobbit when I was a kid and i'm very very excited about the films... what an excellent way to celebrate your third anniversary... well done for making it three years... your blog is one of my 'comfort' places to come, so please continue in the wonderful way you do xx

  4. They look and sound delicious!

  5. The Hobbit was always one of my favourite novels, but it has been a long time since I have read the Lord of the Rings Series. I am just catching up now after an amazing time in Italy. It will take a while to collect my thoughts.

    1. Oh Val! You have had a tremendous 'quest'! Can't wait to see photos and read of your adventures!

  6. I really really want to make this; I am completely taken with your oatcakes; they are Beautiful!

  7. "I don't think he knows about second breakfast, Pip."

    "Pippin: What about elevenses? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper? He knows about them, doesn't he?"

    Your photos are making me want second breakfast!


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