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January 22, 2008


Rachel Laudan

Great post Adam. Thanks. I love the chimney almost more than the oat cakes.

Lovely isn't it. After WWII it was sold for 10 pounds and blown up.

The oatcakes are interesting from the perspective of how rapidly diet can change. Early-middle of the 19th century a small percentage of the population in the West Riding ate wheat, by end of the century wheat bread was the norm. Triumph of the industrial oven over the home griddle pan. I imagine that a similar pattern is repeated in Mexico?

The Old Foodie

Fantastic Adam! - I had forgotten the word "haversack" - and I certainly never noticed the now very obvious connection with haver/oats. I love these word connections.


Thanks Janet.

I haven't looked into it in depth, but I think that "Haversack" entered English from one of the germanic languages, possibly through French!

Sometimes "havercake" is pronounced without the "h" and some cases it is spelt "avercake". Any oatmeal breads in your part of Yorkshire?


Adam - This is a great 'slice' of your family history - woven into both cuisine as well as ocean passages of the time; how wonderful that Joseph Pickles kept a diary! The photo of the mine chimney constructed during the mid 19th.C. is an interesting expression of what seemed to be Victorian preoccupations with pillars, oblisks and other high-reaching and highly-ornate constructions.

As for the traditional oatcakes, would the fermenting of the batter be similar to the manner in which some Indian breads are fermented prior to baking? Have you tried making them in this way?

A very nice entry!

Adam Balic

I haven't made the traditional Yorkshire oatcakes. They were made using a special method, which you can see on the image of the cottage above. The batter was laid on a board and thrown onto the hot plate to produce a elongated oval. I haven't the skill or the right sort of range top. The British food historian Laura Mason told me that she say the last know maker of these oatcakes make her final batch in 1999. The fermenting makes them lighter, but they don't really rise (no gluten).

The chimney is lovely, must of been quite a site when in working condition. It even looks a little "ancient worldly" in a very proper Victorian manner.

Tam Mason

For an excellent account on Yorkshire oatcakes (plus an intriguing pic of a machine that 'threw' the batter from a canvas roller) check out Peter Brears Traditional Food in Yorkshire... The machine had cast onto the firebox EVIL BE TO HIUM THAT EVIL THINKS - we have been warned!
In Lancs a colleague of mine remembers from her childhood the oatcakes in pubs that hung on creels to go hard. These would be served with a hotpot style dish and called rather straightforwardly 'Stew n Hard'.
Traditional Derbyshire oatcakes are still available from Chatsworth Farm Shop in Derbyshire... and as you mentioned above are amazing with honey and butter...
Ace chimeny!

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