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Oatcake biscuits recipe

Oatcake biscuits recipe

  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Biscuits and cookies
  • Oat biscuits

These lovely Scottish oatcake biscuits are really easy to make and versatile. Enjoy as a savoury snack with a mature cheese and some pickle, or smothered in honey or jam.

10 people made this

IngredientsServes: 8

  • 55g plain flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 225g medium oatmeal
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 25g butter
  • 25g lard
  • 2 tablespoons milk

MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:20min ›Ready in:40min

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Grease a baking tray.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well with hands. Knead until a dough forms. On a floured board, roll out the dough to about 5mm thick then cut into rounds using a biscuit cutter. Place on the prepared baking tray.
  3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool before enjoying as a sweet or savoury snack.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(1)

Reviews in English (1)

Delicious! We enjoyed ours with cheese and pickle!-27 Apr 2015

Recipe Summary

  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon), for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread 1/2 cup rolled oats on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until light golden and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool then transfer to a food processor process until finely ground. Add flour, sugar, coarse salt, and pepper pulse until combined. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. Add 3 tablespoons cold water and pulse until dough just comes together, adding up to an additional tablespoon as needed.

Turn dough out onto plastic wrap, shape into a rectangle and wrap in plastic. Chill for 45 minutes. Transfer chilled dough to a sheet of parchment paper. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup oats and roll into a 10-by-12-inch rectangle. Using a fluted pastry wheel, cut into thirty-two 2 1/2-by-1 1/2-inch rectangles. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt. If dough becomes soft, chill for 15 minutes.

Arrange bars an-inch apart on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until golden, 28 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

A cracking idea

I don't know about you, but it's double duvet time in our house (cue late-arriving Indian summer between me writing these words and you reading them).

Anyway, when the woollies and wellies come out, so do the cake tins and baking trays. And right now they're out and proud. But I'm not about to overload you with recipes for brownies, muffins and millionaire's shortbread, partly because you've almost certainly got a copy of How To Be A Domestic Goddess, but also because my seasonal baking urge is right now on a distinctly savoury jag. Hard to say why. I guess the chocolate and icing sugar store was uncharacteristically bare a couple of weeks back, and it set me off on a goo-free baking spree. It's a definite advantage that the average store cupboard probably already holds everything you need to cook some very delicious savoury morsels.

You may believe yourself an addict of big-brand crackers and plastic-wrapped oatcakes - and I'm not saying there's anything wrong with them - but try baking your own and I guarantee you'll convert yourself, setting new benchmarks in crisp, crumbly, oven-warm yumminess that no shop-bought contender can ever quite meet. The homemade digestive is a particular revelation - it has all the wheaty, sweet toothsomeness of commercial varieties, but with a delightfully friable, sandy texture and an incomparable freshness. The word "biscuity" needs re-minting to mark the occasion of their baking

Digestives, incidentally, are so-called because it was originally claimed the bicarbonate of soda they contained would aid digestion. This is almost certainly nonsense - but I wouldn't for a moment wish to strip them of their badge of wholesomeness. One wouldn't want to feel bad about eating four on the trot, before they even make it off the cooling rack. That's my personal best (by which I mean least, not most).

I confess I could quite easily munch my way through a batch of any of these biscuits with absolutely no accompaniment - except, perhaps, one other member of my family (any more could, within minutes, lead to scuffling over the crumbs). But, of course, they have many friends: try them with cured meats or with dips and purées such as hummus, or tinned white beans crushed into hot, garlicky olive oil. A crisp biscuit is, in my opinion, as good as any bread when it comes to underpinning any rich pâté - freshly baked oatcakes topped with homemade smoked mackerel pâté are particularly hard to beat. And, of course, savoury biscuits can be sweetened in an instant by the best homemade preserves. Right now, Bill's oatcakes (see recipe overleaf) with our homemade raspberry jam are a breakfast favourite. When the jam runs out, as it surely will, the marmalade will do very nicely.

But, for many, the savoury biscuit's finest moment comes when it is called into service beside one of our fabulous native cheeses. Whether you pair it with nutty, crumbly Cheddar, a tangy blue or an oozer such as Stinking Bishop, you'll find your homemade cracker or biscuit to be so much more than an understudy. Add a ripe pear, a glass of cider brandy and a roaring fire, and you have as fine an end to an autumn meal as I can think of.

River cottage spelt digestive biscuits

We make these in two slightly different ways: follow this recipe for a digestive to serve with cheese, or reduce the sugar to 100g to create a slightly less sweet biscuit for pâtés. Makes about 30.

250g spelt flour
250g medium oatmeal
250g cold, unsalted butter, cubed
125g soft light brown sugar
a generous pinch of salt
1½ tsp baking powder
10-20ml milk

Put everything except the milk in a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Tip into a bowl, then add just enough milk to bring it together into a firm dough. This uncooked dough will keep in the fridge for several days (as long as the milk in it remains fresh).

This makes a very firm, solid dough and, if it's been in the fridge, it will be rock hard, so let it come to room temperature before rolling. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3 and lightly grease two baking sheets. Put the dough between two sheets of clingfilm or baking parchment, and roll out until 2-3mm thick. Work quickly because it can become sticky as it warms up (return it to the fridge for a bit if this happens). Use a plain round cookie cutter to stamp out the biscuits. Arrange on the baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes, until pale golden and just beginning to turn brown around the edges. Leave to cool, then store in an airtight container.

Seedy crackers

You can use whichever seeds you like here, though the aniseedy note from the caraway works particularly well with blue cheese. Fennel, dill, sesame or nigella seeds are all good options. Makes about 25.

250g strong white flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp each poppy and caraway seeds
½ tsp salt
40ml olive oil
100ml water

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3 and lightly oil two baking trays. Sieve the flour and baking powder together in a large bowl, then stir in the poppy and caraway seeds and the salt. Add the oil and rub it in with your fingers until the mix comes together with a texture resembling coarse breadcrumbs. Slowly pour in the water, stopping when you have a soft, but not sticky dough.

Roll out the dough to roughly 5mm thick and stamp into 5cm discs. Take each disc of dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface to make a long oval shape. The dough should be very thin - only about 1mm. Place the ovals on the baking trays and bake for just five or six minutes, until dry and crisp but barely browned. Leave to cool, then store in an airtight container.

Bill's Rona oatcakes

This recipe is Bill Cowie's, island manager of Rona in the Inner Hebrides. He made a batch when we were filming and fishing with him in July. We devoured every last one, with cheese and homemade chutney. Makes about 20.

140g medium oatmeal
140g porridge oats
10 twists of black pepper
½ tsp salt
A small handful of sunflower or other seeds (optional)
75ml extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and dust two baking trays with flour. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Pour the oil into a well in the centre, then pour in enough boiling water to bind it into a firm, not sticky, dough. Work quickly. Don't worry if you over-water a bit - you can remedy the situation by adding more oatmeal.

Form the dough mixture into a ball and leave it to rest for the time it takes to open a bottle and pour a glass of wine. Roll out the dough on a floured surface (dust with flour, too, if it's sticky) to about 5mm thick.

Cut out discs with a cookie cutter (I use a 6cm one). Place on the baking trays and bake for 20 minutes, then turn and bake for a further five to 10 minutes. Cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container.

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· This article was amended on Tuesday October 9 2007. We gave the wrong amount of flour in two of the recipes reproduced above. The River Cottage spelt digestive biscuits and the seedy crackers should both be made with 250g of flour, not 50g. These errors have been corrected.

Ingredient Notes

  • RolledOats – I used rolled oats for this recipe. Quick oats will also do the trick!
  • Flour – All-purpose flour works best!
  • Sugar – I used brown sugar for a nice caramel taste.
  • Salt – Salt is imperative when it comes to baking, don’t skip it!
  • Baking Soda – This is going to act as our leavener.
  • Maple Syrup – Use your favorite! Substitute with honey or agave if you prefer.
  • Butter – I used unsalted to control the sodium.
  • Water – Make sure it’s boiling water!


When you emigrate to the other side of the world there are many things you can miss. For me, that is family and friends. Others miss places, culture, memories, the weather or food.

To be honest, in my two and a half years living in Australia, I haven’t craved or missed many foods from Scotland….that was until now.

This week I had some serious craving for Haggis! I kept seeing Instagram photos of Burns Suppers and I felt a little nostalgic. Haggis wasn’t something I wanted to attempt to make myself, so I decided to prepare a different Scottish food, (oatcakes), to celebrate Burns with the boys.

Five batches later, I finally made an oatcake that reminds me of home.

Let’s talk about Oats

Every country seems to have their own selection and names for different varieties of oats. This can make oat-based recipes confusing and is why, sometimes, recipes don’t translate well from country to country.

Many oatcake recipes simply state oats in the ingredient list. No other explanation is given and yet the type of oat you use can greatly affect the end result.

From my research, I discovered that Scottish Oatmeal is most commonly used. This isn’t something that is stocked in the supermarkets here, so I experimented using the more commonly available, rolled and steel cut oats.

A little breakdown of the oats I discuss.

  • Scottish Oatmeal – Oats ground into coarse, medium or fine oatmeal
  • Rolled Oats – Are created by steaming and rolling oats.
  • Steel Cut Oats (Pinhead) – Oats chopped into small pieces

How to Make Oatcakes

When developing this recipe I tried making the oatcakes with steel cut oats, rolled oats and a mixture of both.

  • 100% steel cut oats (blended) – The mixture was a little crumbly to work with but it produced a good, textured, rough oatcake.
  • 100% rolled oats (blended) – The mixture was easier to work with but the finished oatcake lacked in texture.
  • 50% steel cut / 50 % rolled mix (both blended). This was voted the favourite from both my kids and my husband.

If you can get your hands on some medium oatmeal, then you could use this and no blending would be required.

Once you have the oats all figured out, the recipe is pretty simple. With very few ingredients, they are easy and quick to prepare.

  1. Blend oats
  2. Add melted butter and mix until combined
  3. Add water and knead until the oats have absorbed the water and a ball can be formed
  4. Roll out (approx 3mm thick) and cut into rounds (or desired shape) using cookie cutters,
  5. Bake

Many oatcake recipes include baking soda or baking powder. I’m not sure of the reasoning behind this. Without an acid to react with the baking soda, it won’t do much, and you don’t really want the oatcakes to rise.

However, I did decide to try the recipe with baking powder to see if there was any difference. There wasn’t any noticeable difference in texture but the batch baked with baking powder were slightly darker in colour.

I chose not to include baking powder in my recipe card but if you wish, you can add 1/4 tsp to the recipe.

What Do Oatcakes Taste Like?

When I told my youngest that we were going to make oatcakes, his face lit up. He just heard the word cake and was imagining an indulgent, sweet treat.

When he saw and tasted the finished product, his face fell. It was not a cake as he knew it!

Oatcakes have a nutty, wholesome flavour and are maybe a food you need to have some familiarity with before you appreciate them

What Texture Should Oatcakes Have?

Oatcakes can vary widely in regards to texture. They can be rough to fine, depending on how the oats are ground. They can be slightly chewy, crumbly or crispy, depending on the water content, how thick they are rolled out and how long they are baked.

This recipe produces an oatcake that is crunchy with a medium to rough texture.

Oatcakes and Allergy Options

  • Gluten Free – Although oats are naturally gluten-free, most commercial oats are processed in facilities that also process wheat, barley, and rye. The gluten in these ingredients can contaminate oats. Make sure to buy gluten-free oats if intolerant.
  • Dairy Free – You can replace the butter with a different fat (e.g olive oil or lard)

How to serve Oatcakes

The great thing about oatcakes is that they can be enjoyed in many different ways and at any time of the day. Enjoy them with sweet or savoury toppings, crumbled into soup or as part of a cheese board.

Below I have illustrated nine different ways you could top your oatcakes, of course, this is just nine of many ideas. The toppings are limitless.

  1. Egg Salad
  2. Mashed Avocado and Tomato
  3. Peanut Butter & Raspberry Chia Jam
  4. Cream Cheese & Strawberry
  5. Hummus and Carrot and Cucumber
  6. Butter, Cheese & Grape
  7. Cottage Cheese and Tomato
  8. Nut Butter, Banana and Cinnamon

Have you tried this recipe? I love to hear your feedback, please rate and leave a comment below or tag me on Instagram.

Looking for more healthy kid recipes? Sign up for my free recipe newsletter to get new family friendly recipes in your inbox each week! Find me sharing more kind-friendly inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram.

Are Oatcakes Good for You?

Absolutely, yes! Oatcakes are very good for your health! Oatcakes are essentially almost all oats, which contain vitamin B1, B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc and more minerals. You can read more about it on Nairns Oatcakes website.

You may also enjoy more of my Scottish recipes.

I usually just eat them with butter, and when using a really good quality butter, such as Kerrygold, the flavor of the oatcakes is simply enhanced. Of course, they can also be served with jam, marmalade or honey, or alongside soup, or with cheese. They are savory, but can be sweetened with the topping you choose, so I hope do choose to try them!

Preheat an oven to 375 F. In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Add the shortening or butter and use 2 knives, a large fork, or your fingers to work the fat into the dry ingredients.

Pour in the hot water and stir until everything comes together into a thick, sticky dough.

You can roll the dough out on a well-floured surface, cut it into shapes, and set them on a large baking sheet. Or keep things simple and simply press the dough into an even 1/4-inch layer on a baking sheet. Score this large "cake" into smaller pieces: Use a knife to cut the dough into squares or rectangles or whatever shapes you like, but don't bother to separate the pieces the pieces will bake back together but be easy to cut or break along that original cut line.

Bake until golden, about 12 minutes. You can take them out now for chewier oatcakes or reduce the oven temperature to 325 F and bake until lightly browned, about 10 more minutes, for crisper oatcakes.

When they have finished baking, if you've cut them into shapes, let them cool if you've scored them, cut them apart while warm so they cool into squares (or rectangles or triangles or whatever you've cut them into).

Recipe Variations

While they are delicious as is, there are a number of add-ins that work with oatcakes.

  • Add 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips or chopped chocolate, or drizzle melted chocolate on top as they cool.
  • Mix in 1/2 cup of chopped nuts, dried fruit, or seeds such as pumpkins, sesame, or sunflower.
  • Give oatcakes some spice with ground cinnamon, nutmeg, or a warming spice blend. About 1/2 to 1 teaspoon should do.

How to Store and Freeze Oatcakes

Keep the oatcakes stored in an airtight container for up to a week or even two, depending on the heat and humidity in your kitchen. They also freeze well for up to three months if you want to make a large batch. Separate layers with parchment or foil, then wrap tightly with foil before placing them in a freezer-safe bag or container. Let them thaw at room temperature.

Can Oatcakes Be Made With Quick Oats?

This recipe works best with rolled oats (also called old-fashioned oats). Quick and instant oats are cut smaller and steamed longer, which allows them to cook more quickly. In a pinch, you could try quick oats in oatcakes. The flavor would be similar, but the texture will be considerably different.

What's the Difference Between Scottish and Nova Scotia Oatcakes?

Oatcakes have Scottish origins, and many settlers in Nova Scotia emigrated from Scotland. It is only natural that they brought a favorite snack with them. There are a few differences between the two styles of oatcakes. The most noticeable is the shape: In Scotland, they're often round, while squares or rectangles are favored in Nova Scotia. Scottish oatcakes also prefer Scottish oatmeal or steel-cut oats for a finer texture and use little or no sugar. Nova Scotia-style oatcakes prefer rolled oats and are sweeter.

Are Oatcakes Healthy?

Nova Scotia-style oatcakes have some healthy aspects. Oats are a good source of fiber, which can help with digestive health and make you feel full  . Adding oats to your diet may also benefit heart health, and they are rich in vitamins and minerals such as phosphorus, thiamine, magnesium, and zinc. While oats form a good base for this recipe, the other ingredients add to the calories and carbohydrates. When compared to other homemade cookies or sweet snacks, they may be a slightly healthier choice.

Scottish Oatcakes


1 tsp cracked black pepper

50ml extra virgin olive oil

Take half of your porridge oats and tip them into a food processor, along with the salt and pepper. Whiz until relatively fine and tip into a mixing bowl.

Add the remaining porridge oats into the mixing bowl, stir briefly and pour in the olive oil. Incorporate the olive oil a little before pouring in a little boiling water – around 2-3 tbsp – enough to transform your oats into a soft, malleable dough.

Gently knead your dough for 30 seconds, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll gently until 5mm thick.

Take a 6cm round cutter and cut out 18-20 oatcakes. Preheat the oven to 160C/180C(fan). Pop the oatcakes onto a lined baking tray and bake for around 15 minutes, until they are crisp and a little browned.

Cost: Let’s face it, oats are cheap. The most expensive ingredient is the olive oil. This recipe is cheap. Indeed, this batch of delicious, olive-infused Scottish oatcakes should set you back no more than around 25p.

Scottish Oatcakes

While some Scots may not like a Sassenachsuch as myself calling these savoury biscuits Scottish oatcakes, I really don’t have a choice.

That’s because I live in north Staffordshire and if you say ‘oatcake’ here people immediately think of Staffordshire Oatcakes . Not biscuits, but oat pancakes often stuffed with bacon or sausage and cheese, usually eaten for breakfast.

So, although you may think of these simply as ‘oatcakes’, I really do have to call them Scottish Oatcakes.

It seems that oats became the staple cereal in Scotland due to the country’s cooler, damper conditions. This meant the land was better suited for growing oats rather than the wheat more common further south.

Consequently, many oat-based dishes, including porridge and oatcakes, came to be associated with Scotland.


You’ve probably seen various types of oats and oatmeal in the shops. But it isn’t always obvious what the differences are.

So, here’s my quick guide to all things oaty.

The first stage in processing whole oats is to separate the kernels, or groats, from the outer husks. After cleaning and drying, these are prepared in various ways to create different products.

  • PINHEAD, COARSE or STEEL CUT OATS These are the most minimally processed oats. Steel blades are used to cut the groats into pinhead sized pieces. These have a chewy texture and, if you’re making porridge with them, it’ll take longer to cook.
  • MEDIUM & FINE OATMEAL These are made of ground oats, milled to different degree of fineness.

  • ROLLED or JUMBO OATS Here the oats are steamed and then pressed between rollers. These are the oats I buy most of the time: they still have good texture but don’t take as long to cook as pinhead oats.

  • PORRIDGE OATS These are processed in the same way as rolled or jumbo oats but are rolled thinner and flakier. When used for making porridge, I find them too smooth for my taste. But they do cook more quickly.

Faced with these different types of oat, the next question is obviously…


The short answer is, any of them alone or in combination.

Obviously, the finer oatmeal and porridge oats will give you a finer textured oatcake. Coarse or medium oatmeal plus rolled oats will create a ‘rougher’ one.

Tip: you can make your own oatmeal by whizzing up rolled or porridge oats in a food processor.

For the Scottish Oatcakes you see in this post, I used a combination of medium oatmeal and rolled oats. I whizzed up the rolled oats (in a coffee grinder, actually) but not too finely. I think it’s nice to have some largeish pieces of oat remaining for a rustic feel and more interesting texture.

If you’re only going to buy one type of oat, then I’d go for rolled oats due to their versatility.


Making Scottish Oatcakes really is dead simple.

All you do is season your oats/oatmeal with a little salt, then make a dough by adding olive oil or melted butter plus boiling water.

I’ve made some batches with olive oil and some with butter. Personally, I think there’s next to no difference. The ones with butter were perhaps slightly richer, but this was barely noticeable. Both versions had good flavour and were nicely crunchy. So just use whichever fat you prefer.

The dough should be firm but not sticky. I experimented with resting the dough, but found it became crumblier and more difficult to work with.

Dust your work surface with oatmeal or flour, then roll out the dough no more than 3-5 mm thick. Cut out rounds 5-6 cm in diameter, re-rolling the scraps to make more oatcakes.

It’s worth noting that oats can be quite ‘thirsty’. This means that when bringing together the dough scraps to re-roll, I sometimes added a touch more water as it’d gone dry.

The dough is quite forgiving though. If, when rolling out, the edges start to split, just push everything back together and keep going.

Into the oven on a lined baking tray, Scottish Oatcakes should only take 30 minutes to cook. I turn them over after 20 minutes.

When they’re lightly golden and cooked all the way through, cool the oatcakes on a wire rack.

Store in an airtight container when completely cold.


Oatcakes were traditionally a major source of carbohydrate so would be served with all sorts of meals. They can also take the place of bread or toast at breakfast and are good alongside soups.

But I love Scottish Oatcakes best with some really good cheeses.

Here there’s two local ones from the Staffordshire Cheese Company : Buxton Blue and Cheddleton Original, plus a French sheep’s cheese.

I should also give a shout-out here to my lovely Whispers of Wood cheese knife. A beautiful thing to own, it cuts cheeses (and charcuterie) effortlessly without marking wooden boards or scratching plates.

Smooth cream cheese is also a nice contrast to the pleasantly rough and rustic oatcakes. A blob of homemade chutney like my five-star rated Smoky Tomato- Chilli Chutney makes it extra special.

Of course, packet oatcakes, like other savoury crackers and biscuits, can be bought everywhere these days.

But, as with so many things, you can’t beat the flavour and satisfaction you get from homemade. You’ll also be avoiding the environmentally disastrous palm oil found in many brands of oatcake.

For very little effort and cost, you can enjoy wonderfully wholesome and delicious Scottish Oatcakes.

Have you made this Scottish Oatcakes recipe?
Leave a comment & don’t forget to rate the recipe!


The perfect oatcakes

(Makes 9)
200g medium oatmeal, plus extra for dusting
50g pinhead oatmeal
25g porridge oats
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp brown sugar
75g butter, diced
75ml boiling water

Felicity Cloake's perfect oatcakes. Photograph: Felicity Cloake for the Guardian

Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark six. Mix together the oatmeals and oats and spread out on a lined baking tray. Bake for about 15 minutes, shaking the tray occasionally, until they start to smell toasted.

Tip into a mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly, then whisk in the salt and sugar. Stir the butter into the boiling water until melted, then stir this into the oats to make a sticky mixture. If it seems too wet to hold together, add a little more of the medium oatmeal, but it should be quite damp.

Butter the lined baking tray. Dust a work surface with medium oatmeal and put the mixture on there. Pack together well and flatten or roll out with a well-dusted pin until it is about 5mm thick.

Cut out rounds of the size of your choice, then use a palette knife to carefully lift each one on to the tray, still in the cutter as they will be fragile. Space them out well, and re-roll any scraps until all the mixture is used up.

Bake for 20 minutes, then very carefully turn them over and bake for 10 more minutes until they feel hard and dry on both sides. Gently transfer to a wire rack to cool, then store in an airtight tin.

Oatcake fans: do you prefer the Scottish crispbread, the Staffordshire pancake or quite another regional sort altogether – or are they one step up from the dreaded rice cake in your pantheon of worthy but dull foods? And what do you like to eat them with (weird and wonderful toppings welcome)?

This article was amended on 28 August 2014 and 5 November 2015 to correct the palate/palette homophone. The earlier version also referred to Macroom, Co Mayo rather than Co Cork.