As I mentioned in my previous post, my husband and I were visiting our older daughter in Nova Scotia, Canada. I felt timorous and we almost did not make it because of Hurricane Fiona, but the stars aligned, and I was so grateful. Amongst many interesting facts and local history, I also learned that, sometimes, visiting, lodging and shopping (while staying safe and not disturbing rescue efforts of course) is a way to support communities after a disaster (call it sustainable tourism, if you will). In that post, I also shared photos from our overnight visit to the west side of Cape Breton Island; the rest of the week we took daytrips to other interesting places, such as Peggy’s Cove, a fishing village with the classic views you would expect on a Maritime’s postcard:
The coastline is framed by giant rocks that have been worn smooth by the strong sea, and accentuated by Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, built in 1915, considered to be the most photographed of the over 160 historic lighthouses in the province:
The village is also famous for its fresh lobster, and my husband and daughter enjoyed the iconic Nova Scotia lobster roll (I am allergic to shellfish, so I had a pre-packed Atlantic lamb wrap); the lobster roll shown below had a drizzle of truffle sauce on top:
Old Town Lunenburg is a UNESCO World Heritage site for its colourful urban landscape, which comprises seventy percent of original colonial buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries, and a picturesque pier:
The famous schooner “Bluenose” was launched as a fishing and racing ship on 26 March 1921 in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. The Fishermen’s Race was a competition not just for yachts, but a real race for the vessels of hard-working fishermen who made their living on the sea. Bluenose took home her first Fishermen’s Trophy in October of 1921, becoming Nova Scotia’s pride and prime example of fine shipbuilding reputation. During the next seventeen years, no other American or Canadian ship could take the trophy away from Bluenose; she earned the title “Queen of the North Atlantic” and became a Canadian icon, adorning the Canadian dime since 1937 (giant reproduction shown below, left), as well as three postage stamps, and the Nova Scotia license plate. Bluenose was lost when she struck a reef off Isle aux Vache, Haiti on 28 January 1946. In 1963, Bluenose II was built, with many of the people who had worked on the original vessel participating in the project. Bluenose II was gifted to the Government of Nova Scotia in 1971 and continues to sail regularly, as Nova Scotia’s goodwill ambassador; in the photo below, right, overwatched by a single bird, Bluenose II is coming back to the pier:
In one of the orchards that we visited in Nova Scotia, there was a fall outdoor display, with haystacks and a winding path with rows of pumpkins at the sides (photo below, left). We bought local wild blueberries, a bag of apples, and a small package of oatcakes (photo below, right):
We only bought the one package, and we could not find them again in Halifax, so I was left with the idea of making them from scratch once back at home. In Scotland, the original oatcakes were usually salty, to eat instead of bread, reportedly like soldiers ate with their rations as far back as the 14th Century. Scottish oatcakes made it to Canada around the 18th Century, and were modified with the addition of sugar, for a sweet and salty treat. Nowadays, both versions are enjoyed, and each region – both in Scotland or in Nova Scotia, in Canada – has a number of local specialties of oatcakes that are crispy or soft, thin or thick, plain or with chocolate on top, round or square, and so on. I was after Nova Scotia oatcakes that were square and crispy, like the Grammy’s™ shown above, and developed my recipe based on several versions I found online; I had some dark chocolate in stock, so I coated some, like Grammy’s™, drizzled others, and left a few plain, to appreciate the satisfying flavour and texture of the cakes themselves.
Nova Scotia Style Oatcakes (with Gluten-Free Option)
Ingredients (for 18 squares, 2 inch-5 cm, each)
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats; certified gluten-free, optional
1 cup all-purpose wheat flour OR for gluten-free ¾ cup buckwheat flour and ¼ cup corn starch
½ cup brown sugar
¼ – ½ tsp salt, to taste
¾ cup butter; chilled and cubed
¼ cup water, plus more, if needed
Dark chocolate, for coating; optional
Mix oats, flour(s), and sugar, breaking up any clumps; add salt, as desired (photo below, left). Incorporate butter, pounding and rubbing into dry ingredients, by hand or with a wooden spoon or spatula (photo below, right):
Once the mix is grainy and crumbly, add water and mix (photo below, left). The dough should be sticky and slightly crumbly, but not dry; add more water if needed, one tablespoon at a time, until dough may be formed into a ball (photo below, right):
Allow to rest in the fridge for about thirty minutes.
Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC). On a flat working surface, pat the dough with hands into a rectangle, 6 inches (15 cm) on one side, and continue flattening with a rolling pin, until it is about 12 inches (30 cm) long and 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) thick:
Cut into a grid of 3×6 squares, using a knife, pastry scraper or pizza cutter (photo below, left). Each square should be around 2 inches (5 cm) per side. Transfer with a spatula onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (photo below, right):
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until edges and top look crispy; flip one square, it should be golden brown:
Remove from oven and allow to cool down completely.
Leave plain, or optional: melt dark chocolate; drizzle on top of each square, or coat half of each, as shown below:
A nice cup of strong and hot coffee, or tea, is the perfect pairing for these sweet and salty treats:
The plain oatcakes may also be eaten with butter or peanut butter, and a drizzle of honey on top.
These oatcakes were very close to the ones from the Grammy’s™ package in Nova Scotia; I love their simplicity, low cost, and at a personal level, it will always be a joyful bake that will remind me of how my husband and I were able to travel and see our older daughter, and a way to share a little piece of Nova Scotia with the younger one, who so generously volunteered to stay home to take care of our dog, now a senior (and blind) citizen.
UPDATE October 19, 2022 – Shown below are some gluten-free oatcakes, made with buckwheat flour and corn starch as the recipe indicates. They have a wonderful darker tone, from the buckwheat, and the texture is slightly crispier than the ones made with regular wheat flour, but otherwise they are very similar and equally delicious:
I am joining The 2022 Great Bloggers’ Bake-Off, with the theme on HOW TO MAINTAIN JOY IN LIFE DESPITE RISING COSTS and HOW WE CAN TAKE BETTER CARE OF OUR BEAUTIFUL PLANET.
UPDATE: Thank you to Caramel for reviewing my entry during the party, on the weekend of October 15-16, 2022:
UPDATE: Thank you so much to Caramel & Jack, A Bereaved Single Dad, and A Jeanne in the Kitchen, for organizing another very successful Bloggers’ Bake Off. I was fortunate enough to secure the “Best Cookie Award”:
I am sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #563, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.