Friday, 3 March 2017

Etta Ferguson's Oat Cakes

Last summer we spent 2 weeks in Nova Scotia, scattering Dad's ashes and visiting relatives. My aunt from Pennsylvania also came up, and she spent a little time chasing after oat cakes. That got me interested in them too, and before I left I asked my cousins if they had a good recipe. "Etta Ferguson's" they all replied in a chorus. So, I got it and here it is.

I don't know who Etta was but her oat cakes are terrific. She used shortening, which I replaced with half butter and half lard but for once I did not meddle beyond that. I thought it looked like a lot of salt and a lot of sugar, and yes it is. However, as I sat there eating the first cookie and thinking, hmm, too much salt? too much sugar? everyone else was saying OMG OM NOM NOM. The salt and brown sugar does give them a salted caramel quality that is very appealing.

I used Sucanat, which is a very unrefined brown sugar and probably quite similar to the cheap brown sugar originally used in the recipes from the Maritimes that call for brown sugar. Now, of course, you pay considerably extra for it, but I do think it makes a difference. You can use large or small flake rolled oats; I prefer large flakes for making oatmeal but for baking I tend to prefer the small quick-cooking ones, and that's what I used here.

Etta says to roll the cakes thin, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 350°F to 375°F. I think that 375°F is the proper temperature, and I needed to bake mine for closer to 15 minutes even so. Perhaps I didn't roll them out thin enough, but they were still rolled thinner than the commercially baked versions I saw. Mine ended up a bit chewy rather than really crisp but no complaints. I would happily eat them either way.

makes 32 to 40
30 minutes - 15 minutes prep time

Etta Ferguson's Oat Cakes

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup lard
1 cup Sucanat or dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup soft whole wheat flour
1 scant teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Cream the butter and lard in a large mixing bowl until soft and fluffy, then beat in the egg and the vanilla extract.

Mix together the dry ingredients, and stir them in until evenly and throroughly combined, and no dry bits remain.

Turn the dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper to fit on your baking sheet. Pat it into a neat flat rectangle, then roll it out as evenly as possible. You can trim and patch the edges without much difficulty. The finished rectangle should be about 1/4" thick and fit onto your baking tray.

Use a pizza cutter to cut it into 32 (4 x 8) or 40 (5 x 8) pieces, but no need to move them apart. Put the sheet of parchment with the cakes onto the baking sheet, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until set (no longer shiny) and slightly browned.

Re-cut the lines with the pizza cutter and let the cakes cool. Lift them from the parchment with a thin lifter, and break them gently apart. Store in a tin, in a cool dry spot for as long as you can keep people out of them - not long.

Last year at this time I made Ham & Cheese French Toast


Anne said...

I made these and they turned out great! I made several changes due to dietary restrictions...I put in some sorghum flour and some non wheat flour instead of the wheat flour. The batter was probably more liquid than with regular flour, so I just arranged it on the parchment as neatly as I could and didn't cut them beforehand. Baked for about 17 minutes. Very sweet and really delicious.

Ferdzy said...

I'm glad to hear they worked out well for you, Anne. Thanks for letting me know.