Saturday, November 20, 2021

Yorkshire oat cakes 1814 & backstone / bakestone

Oat cake, Haver-cake, or Clap-bread were made very thin in Yorkshire. Costing one penny, the size of the ladle would change depending on the cost of the oats. Ladeled over dried meal on a board, put on bakestone, then on cloth, then hung on a creel.

This picture (click to enlarge) has always intrigued me, with one of my 'fluezies' - backstone or bakestone. But also with the batter so far from the cooking surface so not poured directly as we would crepes or pancakes. Several years ago, I finally found the accompanying pages which described the use of the board in her hand - like an oven peel to transfer it. Wooden peels feel so perfect when used in brick ovens, so I had to make a post about these oatcakes and their board. Though I wonder the consistancy of the batter to be able to ladle out then transfer off the board to the hot top.

Has anyone used this method to make oakcakes - swirling batter over the meal on a board, then transfering to hot surface?

Woman Making Oat Cakes.

"It is a very thin cake, composed of oatmeal and water only, and by no means unpalatable, particularly while it is new. The mixture is made of a proper consistence in a large bowl, and measured out for each cake by a ladle. As the price of an oat cake is invariably one penny, the size of the ladle of course depends upon the rate of meal in the market.
Some dry meal is sifted upon a flat board, and a ladle-full of the mixture poured over it. The cake is formed and brought to a proper size and thickness by a circular horizontal movement of the board…
It is then laid upon what is termed the Backstone, or hot hearth, to bake, which does not require many seconds of time, and afterwards placed upon a cloth to cool.

An inverted chair, as seen in the Plate, frequently serves this purpose.
The cakes are then hung upon a frame, called a Bread Creel, suspended from the ceiling of almost every cottage in the district."
1758 Bacon racks or Meat racks suspended like creel - past post HERE
The flue space within the bricks (I've indicated the probable path with a grey line on image) would leave the fire box (ash box below it) and run around the niche or raised hearth section with the kettle on the side of the hearth and exit higher in the chimney. Maybe heating the niche's bricks slightly, like for brick 'warming ovens'.
Source: Walker, George. The Costume of Yorkshire. London: 1814 in NY Public Library

The actual utensils/tools, with images, to make oat cakes will be in a later post - Oat Cakes utensils HERE

Oat cakes made by Scots going to battle on horseback with iron plate and bag of oatmeal. past post HERE

CALENDAR OF VIRTUAL FOOD HISTORY TALKS HERE

THIS WEEK'S TALKS deleted

Stir up Sunday for Christmas pudding post HERE

©2021 Patricia Bixler Reber
Researching Food History HOME

1 comment:

  1. This is a WONDERFUL post. It reminds me of so many interesting facts about flat bread and their storage. I've made both oat cakes and corn cakes on an open hearth, consisting of nothing but the grain and the water, and they taste very good. The reason is that the heat from a hearth is so much more intense than that from our conventional stove. You just can't get the same result cooking in the modern way on a stove top. We know that we want to dry out any flat cake for storage, as the moisture will cause it to spoil. And you have to keep it from the "critters" who love to eat it as much as we do. I remember seeing in the Swedish Museum in Philadelphia, PA a recreation of a old Swedish Kitchen. It had rods mounted along the ceiling that they used to store their Knackebrod, and that is why it was made with a round hole in the center.

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