Nova Scotia Oatcakes Recipe

Homemade Oatcakes
Molly Watson
  • 25 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 16 Oatcakes (16 Servings)
Ratings (73)

Nova Scotia-style oatcakes are popular throughout the province, but especially beloved in Cape Breton. They aren't necessarily presented as anything special and are often sold just stacked on plastic-wrapped trays in grocery store bakeries. 

They have a magic al that is sweet, but not too sweet, and a bit salty. Part dessert, but mainly a snack. Cookie-like, but sort of cracker-like too (they are very much like hobnob biscuits). These oatcakes are perfect with a cup of tea or a cup of coffee. Serve them as a simple dessert or grab them as an on-the-go breakfast. They are flexible little numbers.

What You'll Need

  • 2 cups rolled oats/traditional oatmeal (not quick cooking, not instant)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup shortening or butter
  • 1/4 cup very hot or boiling water

How to Make It

  1. 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 two knives, a large fork, or your fingers to work the fat into the dry ingredients.
  2. Pour in the hot water and stir until everything comes together into a thick, sticky dough.
  3. You can roll the dough out on a well-floured surface and 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. 
  1. Bake until golden, about 12 minutes. You can take them out now for chewier oatcakes or reduce the oven to 325 F and bake until lightly browned, about 10 more minutes, for crisper oatcakes.
  2. 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 rectangle or triangle or whatever you've cut them into!).
  3. Keep the oatcakes stored in an airtight container up to a week or even two, depending on the heat and humidity in your kitchen. They also freeze well (although they're so easy to make there's not a lot gained by freezing them).