Bardo’s Bakery: Oat Cakes

December 4 of 31 December-ish posts

Some kids dream of running away to join the circus. (Well, at least that’s what they do in movies, right?)

Some adults dream of quitting their jobs and starting a business.

If I could run away today (with a few hundred grand in my pocket to help the plan) I would probably run down the street and open a bakery.

What do you wish you’d
done more of this past year?

Maybe I watch too many baking shows on Netflix, but it occured to me this year that I should bake more. My run-away-and-bake plan would likely get some assistance with more experience, after all, no?

We keep a lot of ingredients and tools around the house, so this doesn’t represent much more than an investment of time and energy. I usually don’t need to run to the store for anything, save for some special or weird ingredient. I don’t need to gasp in exasperation at a recipe because I don’t have a certain gadget or implement. On most days I could turn off that television and go bake my own cookies, pie, bread, or other interesting treat.

I didn’t do that as much as I should have this year.

And given the year I had … wondering what if, pining over a sore knee, being stressed at work … some fresh baked chocolate chip cookies would have gone a long way too, no?

I didn’t always sit idly this year and lazily ignore the oven, though.

Yesterday, having picked the cupboards bare of any really delicious snacks, I recalled that a super-simple treat was just about 20 minutes of work away. Oat cakes are apparently a Canadian East Coast staple, though I haven’t been there since I was a kid and can’t really confirm that.

Either way, they are super simple, and tasty in a hearty, wholesome kind of way that catches you off guard when you hear the name “oat cakes” and think it’s probably some kind of farm animal food or something.

No, oat cakes are yum! And if you don’t believe me then go right now, scroll down to the recipe below and spend less than half an hour to make a batch and see for yourself.

Meanwhile, I’ll be planning how to get off the couch and into the kitchen with a little more frequency in 2023.


2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsalted butter (crumbled or grated)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup boiling water

Preheat your oven to 375F and then in a large bowl combine the oats, sugar, flour, salt and baking soda. Once combined work the butter into the mixture with your fingertips to create a coarse, crumbly consistency. Finally, add the hot water and blend some more until everything comes together as a sticky dough.

Oat cakes can be shaped any way you’d like, as cookies or bars, but I like to spread the whole mixture out on a cooke sheet and roll it between layers of parchment until it’s a consistent 1/4 inch thick. On the sheet I use a table knife to score lines about half way thru into roughly rectangular shapes.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the desired doneness is reached. The cakes will be very crumbly until they’ve cooled completely.

Keeps for a few days on the counter… if they even last that long before someone eats them!

Sourdough Science Saturday

My starter is a little over two and a half years old and as I alluded to in my previous post I’ve baked about two hundred and fifty-ish loaves of bread with it, pre- and during pandemic.

You would almost think I would understand it better.

About an hour ago I pulled my Thanksgiving loaf from the oven and it turned out great.

All around, I followed my basic twenty-four hour prep-and-proof plan, the process I’ve been fine tuning for years even before this starter, and which works for me fairly consistently.

Only it sometimes doesn’t.

Like this summer.

This summer we had a heat wave for a solid month where the temperatures outside rarely dropped below twenty-five degrees at night and routinely stuck in the mid-to-high thirties during the day. Also, it rarely dropped below twenty-five degrees in our house (including the kitchen) which was a nightmare, the waking kind, because I could hardly sleep in those conditions.

All the bread I baked during this month flopped.

Poor rise. Dense crumb. Edible … but not enjoyable.

And at the time I got it into my head that the heat was putting my yeast into some runaway proof and I was missing the window to bake it and get a good loaf.


I’ve had a few months to think about this, and my nineteen degree kitchen (where I proofed today’s loaf to within one standard deviation of perfection) only added another layer of evidence to my theory.

“You’d think the yeast would have liked the heat.” Went the conversation with my wife. “But I think my yeast aren’t loving it.”

Not all yeast are created equally, after all. In fact, there are fifteen hundred known varieties of yeast, and the yeast that come in the little envelope from the grocery store may have very little lineage in common with the yeast I caught in my kitchen two and a half years ago.

The yeast from the store are bred to grow consistently, quickly and thrive at warm temperatures.

I’d be willing to bet that whatever yeast I found thriving in my kitchen air and trapped in my starter probably prefer, say, a dry central Canadian climate and do quite well in my nineteen degree kitchen. Wouldn’t it make sense, after all, that the most common yeast floating around my house were probably plentiful enough to be caught because they actually favoured … preferred … had maybe even adapted to … the conditions of my house?

So, back in June when my house was eight or nine degrees warmer than normal, those nineteen-degree-loving yeast … well, they made some garbage bread.

And today, when my thermostat is regulating the house to optimal conditions for both me and my yeast … well logically they made a loaf of awesome bread.