Monday, March 10, 2014

trEATs: Oatcakes with Pink Peppercorns

There's nothing quite as personal and thoughtful for gift-giving as something homemade. I honestly find that a gift for that person who already has everything, something with a personal touch is the most well-received. This is even more true when it comes to edible gifts.

I recently received a review copy of trEATs by April Carter (Hardie Grant Books). The entire premise of this cookbook is to create edible delights perfect for gift-giving. There's a short blurb in the beginning of the book discussing how to present your creations, but I would have really loved if each recipe had a little note with suggestions for that particular recipe for how to package it best.

Regardless, I think this book is creative and playful. It only has about 50 recipes but they range from savory to sweet, and simple to more complex. Everything from jars of salted caramel sauce and flavored salts to cupcakes, cookies, and even baked doughnuts fill these pages with fun and festive ideas.

I had narrowed down my options for what to try first to a savory one and a sweet one: Oatcakes with Pink Peppercorns and Neapolitan Sandwich Cookies.

I decided to go with the savory option, especially since it looked like the perfect vehicle for enjoying cheese (one of nature's greatest wonders), and it seemed to be a oatmeal-based variation on a cracker, which intrigued me.

The "dough" for these oatcakes can be a bit difficult to work with; it can be crumbly, but be sure to really press the dough together and work it on the board for a few minutes (add an extra splash of boiling water or a bit of flour if needed to help bind it more) until it comes together and then roll it out immediately on a well-floured surface before it starts to dry out. Once it was rolled, it was pretty easy to cut out the circles.

The flavor once baked can simply be described as oaty and peppery, exactly what you'd expect. It has a delicate and mild flavor which is perfect with thin slices of sharp cheese. I served my oatcakes with a chunk of Pecorino Romano cheese, but any assertive cheese would be a nice compliment to these oatcakes.

These would be a very sophisticated and unique contribution to a wine and cheese party. You can wrap up the oatcakes in a pretty container and gift it along with some nice cheese from your favorite cheese shop and a bottle of vino.

Oatcakes with Pink Peppercorns
Makes about 30
(Adapted from trEATs)

75 g (2 1/2 oz) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons boiling water
200 g (7 oz / 1 cup) oatmeal
50 g (2 oz / 2/5 cup) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 to 3 teaspoons pink peppercorns, crushed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C / Gas 4) and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Heat the butter in a large saucepan over low heat until it melts, then add the boiling water and mix together.

In a clean bowl, mix the oatmeal, flour, salt and peppercorns to combine. Add this flour mixture to the butter and mix together. Turn out the mixture onto a floured surface and squash the mixture together with your hands to form a dough (you may need a splash more of water or a bit of flour to get it to really stick together well). Working quickly (the mixture becomes dry as it cools), roll out the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness and cut out circles with a 2-inch cutter. Transfer the circles to the prepared baking sheets, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until firm.

Allow the oatcakes to cool completely on the trays, store in a tin or an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

*Disclaimer* I received no compensation to write this review other than a free copy of the book. My opinions are always my own.


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