Nova Scotia Oatcakes

February 19, 2008

Dining at Dalhousie Castle
Photo courtesy Vossen Media Co (U.K.)

Who wouldn’t want to spend the night in a castle? Some castles are luxurious and some castles are wonderfully old: the Dalhousie Castle near Edinburgh, miraculously, is both. If Sam and Harry are smart, they will have first flown in to London and then traveled to Edinburgh overnight on The Flying Scotsman – it’s only a 4-hour ride, but folks can check into a private sleeping compartment several hours early at Kings Cross station, and don’t have to leave the train at Edinburgh Waverley the next morning until after being served tea and a scone. Very romantic!

While the couple may not find Scottish haggis to their liking, they must be sure to try the many varieties of oat cakes that are a Scottish specialty. While store-bought Scottish oatcakes are generally crisper and saltier, the texture and slight sweetness of these homemade ones remind me of scones. We make them often! – Almostgotit

Nova Scotia Oatcakes

3 cups quick rolled oats
3 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cup shortening
2/3 – 3/4 cup cold water

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together.  Cut in shortening. Add enough water to form a rather stiff, pastry-like dough.  Roll 3/8 ” thick and cut into circles.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes on a greased baking sheet.  Makes lots!

  • Variation: one may sneakily substitute 1/2 cup apple sauce (one of those single-serving cups is just right) for the same portion of shortening and I guarantee no one will notice; bolder folk may substitute even more applesauce and the recipe will change a bit but still work fine; however, Sam will no doubt notice and object. 
  • Canada’s “Nova Scotia” is, of course, Latin for “New Scotland.” This recipe, given to us by a Canadian friend many years ago, is similar to a very old one that probably traces back to early Scottish settlers. Moreover? There is a “Dalhousie University” in Halifax, the capital city of this island province.

Lemon Squares

February 16, 2008

Tart, sweet, gooey, chewy, wonderful! I love Lemon Squares! SAM

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar, divided
2 cups plus 1/3 cup all purpose flour, divided
4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
Juice of 2 lemons (6 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 13-inch baking pan and set aside. With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups of flour and beat until smooth. Spread evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes.

In a clean bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer until light and frothy. Gradually add the granulated sugar, beating until thickened. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, remaining 1/3 cup flour, and baking powder and beat until smooth. Pour the lemon mixture over the bake crust, return to the oven, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until pale golden. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining 3 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar. Cool in the pan on a wire rack and cut into squares.
Makes 20 squares.

Walnut Wedding Cookies

February 6, 2008

As delicate as a new bride … SAM

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar plus additional for topping
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup heavy cream

With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla, beating until blended. Add the flour, salt, and nuts. Add the cream. Form the dough into a roll 2 1/2 inches in diameter and wrap tightly in plastic. Chill several hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1/4-inch thick slices and place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, or until delicately browned around the edges. Remove to wire racks to cool slightly. While still warm, speinkle with additional confectioners’ sugar.
Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

February 1, 2008

I love shortbread in any form! These light, buttery wonders are especially addictive, and the dusting of confectioners’ sugar makes them perfect for any party or feast. SAM

10 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus additional for top
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons lemon zest

With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the flour and lemon zest. Divide the dough into quarters, and on a lightly floured surface, roll each quarter into a 6-inch cylinder. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet and set aside. Cut the dough crosswise into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes or until the tops are firm to the touch and the bottoms are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Sprinkle with additional confectioner’s sugar.
Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Date Balls

January 26, 2008

This chewy, crunchy confection is ideal for buffets or any kind of finger-food get-together! SAM

1 cup granulated sugar
1 (8-ounce) package dates, pitted and chopped (1 1/4 cups)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon brandy
2 1/4 cups crisp rice cereal
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup flaked coconut
Confectioners’ sugar

In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the sugar, dates, egg, and brandy and cook, stirring frequently, until the dates are melted. Remove from the heat and add the cereal, pecans, and coconut. Mix well. Form into 1/2-inch balls and roll in confectioner’s sugar.
Makes 4 dozen 1/2-inch balls.

Pecan Shortbreads

January 20, 2008

This light shortbread is made with confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch for smoothness. Pecans add richness and crunch. The Lemon Butter Icing is the, well, icing on the cake. All in all, the perfect wedding cookie. SAM

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Lemon Butter Icing

With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter until light and fluffy. In a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and flour and beat gradually into the butter. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 large baking sheets and set aside. Over waxed paper or a marble slab, scatter the pecans. Form the dough into 48 small balls and drop onto the pecans. Flatten with the bottom of a small glass dipped in flour. Place the cookies, nut side up, on the prepared baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool and top with Lemon Butter Icing.
Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Coffee Crisps

January 19, 2008

Crisp sugar cookies dipped in coffee syrup … they’re the perfect afternoon snack! SAM

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar, divided
Juice of 1 orange (1/3 cup)
1/2 teaspoon orange extract or liqueur
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup strong coffee
1/2 cup honey
1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 large baking sheets and set aside. With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add the orange juice and orange extract. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and baking powder and add gradually to the butter mixture, beating on low until blended. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. With a crescent-shaped cutter, cut into cookies and place on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 1 cup sugar, honey, and coffee. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Dip the cookies into the coffee mixture, sprinkle with nuts, and place on wire racks to dry.
Makes 4 dozen cookies.