June 20, 2008

Scottish Oat Bread

It's not bread in the sandwichy-way, which may be immediately noticable from the photograph. Rather, it's bread in the tea-time way, or perhaps in the ginger way. That is to say, in some ways, it bears a resemblance in taste and texture to old-fashioned, cake-style gingerbread (as opposed to gingerbread cookies), except that it doesn't contain ginger. Although, of course, you could add some.

I am aware that I am rambling.

This recipe dates back at least to the 1970s, when my mother acquired it from a friend (who was not Scottish, it should perhaps be noted) and immediately adopted it as a favourite. It may not be, in fact, Scottish, in the same way that the salad toppings we know as Russian or French dressing are not really Russian or French. Perhaps the presence of oats, or the combination of oats and molasses (although Scottish cuisine is heavier on treacle, than molasses) leads to the association.

However, the fact I have yet to see any recipe from Scotland that appears similar (with the possible exception of Broonie), does not mean that it isn't really Scottish, either. What really raises my suspicions is the fact that there is no added fat of any kind. No lard, no butter, no oil... only the naturally occurring fat in the eggs and buttermilk/yoghurt, really. Which just does not seem very Scottish, to me. Perhaps one of my kind readers can shed some light on whether this recipe does owe its heritage to Scotland or thereabouts - I encourage you to do so, as I would really like to know.

So, without further meandering, here is my mother's recipe for Scottish Oat Bread. It makes two squat loaves, stores well in fridge or freezer (or countertop, even, for about a week if it's not too warm/humid), and it makes a very tasty breakfast when toasted and lightly spread with cream cheese.

Scottish Oat Bread

2 eggs
2/3 cup blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups buttermilk or yoghurt
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 cups stoneground whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 - 2 cups nuts or raisins (optional)

In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, molasses, sugar, and buttermilk. In another bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients - the flour, oatmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Dump the dry ingredients on top of the egg and molasses mixture, and stir gently with a wooden spoon or spatula, just to combine. About half way through the stirring, add the raisins or nuts, if you like.

Divide batter between two lightly greased or oil-spritzed regular-sized loaf pans. Bake at approximately 350 F. for 35 - 45 minutes, depending on your oven. A toothpick or cake tester should come out clean.

Serve fresh and warm with a little butter, or cold with cream cheese.


kickpleat said...

yum, i love how dark it looks! at first i thought it was chocolate.

Dawna said...

I see what you mean - it looks quite deceptive! Not even remotely like chocolate, but lovely anyway. And sturdy.