Staffordshire Oatcakes

Weston Coyney Oatcake

What is a Staffordshire Oatcake?

A Staffordshire Oatcake is completely different to a Scottish Oatcake.  It's vaguely like a pancake, but has more texture (because of the oats). It's usually (but not always) a savoury dish, and tends to be eaten for breakfast or lunch.

Devotees will spend a long time arguing what the best filling should be, but cheese, bacon and sausage are popular fillings.

Kev's oatcake cafe

The History of the Staffordshire Oatcake

There's a lot of myths about Staffordshire Oatcakes - some have argued that the "Potteries Poppadom" originated after soldiers returned from India.  However their history is far older than that.  You can find similar oatcakes in Derbyshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire, and recipes date back at least as far as the 15th century. 

Food historian Pamela Sambrook has written an excellent book
The Staffordshire Oatcake: A History, and I recommend this to anyone interested in this subject.  They became very popular in Victorian times, when many women worked in the Potteries - so it was an early fast food.

Many were made in people's houses and sold through the window, but sadly the last remaining shop of this sort:
The Hole in the Wall
Hole in the Wall closed on the 25 March 2012.

Oatcake Recipes

Oatcake recipes are kept secret.  In fact many oatcake shop owners say they'd have to shoot you if they gave you their recipe! However if you look on the Internet you can find recipes like this one  on the BBC's web site.   Chloe Scott has done a useful summary here in The Metro.  

Coeliacs will be pleased that some oatcake shops do gluten free versions.

Many shops also sell pikelets:
Oat Cuisine Pikelets
(not to be confused with a thin crumpets which are also know as pikelets).

Pikelets are thicker and sweeter with currants, sultanas and raisins added.

Cooking an Oatcake

Traditionally an oatcake is cooked on a baxton (a kind of griddle). The name comes from the term "baking stone" and many years ago they would have been cooked on hot stones. In more recent times baxtons are made of metal and usually heated by gas. In many shops the mixture is poured out of a jug directly onto the baxton:
Congleton Oatcakes
However some shops, like Foley Oatcakes:
Foley Oatcakes
Povey's have machines to make their oatcakes.  Some of these machines are quite old, and are fascinating to watch in action.

The mix needs to be finer, if it goes through a machine, so machine made oatcakes tend to be thinner, whereas ones from a jug have more texture.  

Oatcake Shops

Box Lane
For a long time I claimed to have visited every oatcake shop.  However new ones keep opening and occasionally some close. There's now
The Staffordshire Oatcake Shop in Llandudno (a popular holiday destination with some Stokies).  

Some have moved to Spain, apparently you can buy them in Zocco market, near Quesada, in the Costa Blanca. Neil Ward from Leek has set up a Staffordshire oatcake shop in Auckland in New Zealand (see

I must also mention Kay Mundy, who runs the
Oatcake Boat.  This is a narrowboat from which Kay sells freshly cooked oatcakes, click here to see a video.

I recommend you visit a few, to find out which sort you like best!  Go early and avoid shops that heat them up in a microwave! Some of the shops have great names, like Oatcake Corral and Oat Cuisine!

A film about Staffordshire Oatcakes

A Staffordshire film company, the Seventh Town, has made a wonderful feature film about Staffordshire Oatcakes. It's directed by Robert Burns and produced by Toby DeCann, and made with love!

If you're not from Stoke on Trent, it's also well worth visiting one of my favourite museums whilst you're in the area.

Here's my map of oatcake shops - please email me if you spot any errors or ommissions.

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