Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Congleton Oatcakes purveyor of finest Staffordhire Oatcakes

I thought I would leave a few days to get through the washing and catching up with other routines before reviewing the pictures I took on our holiday in the Peak District. That was a mistake as days have slipped by and it is nearly ten days since we got back.

There are several reasons why I want to start with this topic . I find discovering new food exciting, I had never heard of Staffordshire Oatcakes, so to find hand crafted ones, and delicious, and which can be used as a basis for all manner of meals, is one aspect of our holiday which made it special. I make a point of 'sniffing' out local specialities where ever I go. The Oatcakes are made on a skillet with batter made from oatmeal, flour and yeast, though Ian understandbly kept his recipe secret. I have found a good recipe, but mark my words, if I was within walking or cycling distance, I would go to Ian's shop for mine. Since our return, and probably because I have 'logged' these in my mind, I have seen Staffordshire Oat Cakes on the shelves of our local Sainsbury's though I have yet to compare them to the artisan ones baked by Ian Pugh of Congleton Oatcakes.

We were out for the day from our holiday home in Leek and stopped off to visit Congleton, more of this another time. On our way back to the car a little way from the town centre down Lawton Street, whilst Mr S went into a lovely sandwich shop, I peered into a nearby shop....

Most of the cooking, making and up and selling seemed to be over. The griddle had just been turned off for the day. Ian looked remarkably fresh and was very happy to tell me all about this local speciality.

As Ian stood by a stack of packed oatcakes and pikelets, he explained how they were cooked, what fillings can be used, and he laughed when I asked what they were like to freeze. I bought a pack of oatcakes, and had one of pikelets pressed into my hands as a gift. The pikelets have raisins in, and were wonderful for our picnic,and warmed up in the toaster next morning. That evening I warmed a couple of the oatcakes and wrapped around a compote of wild bilberries, which I had picked from the moors the previous day, with sheep'syogurt....delicious.

I do like wraps, having been brought up in Mauritius with the likes of Dhall Pouris, I make pancakes, and have used Mexican wraps, but oh, how exciting to find a regional speciality. I brought the remainder of the oatcakes home, and froze them. Since then we have had some and yes, they survived all of this, so next time anyone I know who is travelling that way, will be tasked with bringing some back for us. Next time we venture that way, we shall pop in for hot filled ones

As anyone who knows me, I am not one to be swayed by bribery, so my impression of the goods is in no way coloured by this friendly gesture of a pack of pikelets...except that Ian is a man of his word. I was so disappointed not to have seen him in action, he promised to email me a picture of the griddle in full action, and there were several pictures waiting for me on my return.....his spatula is just a blur in this one.