Oats are a staple food in Scotland, and like most staple foods they are incredibly versatile. They are generally associated with frugal dishes like porridge and oatcakes, but they can also be such a treat, particularly when their texture and flavour is enhanced by toasting them. Granola is an obvious example of this, making a welcome change from a bowl of porridge. Flapjack is probably the most common way of using oats in a sweet treat and is comforting, cheap and easy to make. Toasted oats are perhaps at their best in cranachan, where their crunch provide a contrast to the soft cream and raspberries.
I’ve made a couple of oat-based traybakes recently. The first is from Roald Dahl’s Even More Revolting Recipes by Felicity Dahl, which is the companion book to Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes. The recipe for ‘Pishlets’ is based on The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me, which I don’t actually think I’ve ever read. They were sticky and gooey, a bit like a super-charged flapjack. Rather than golden syrup, they contain demerara sugar and include both dried fruit (I went for sultanas and cranberries) and fresh fruit (apple and pear).
When I read the recipe, I thought they would be a cross between flapjack and a fruity granola bar, but they didn’t quite turn out like that. Due to the lack of syrup, I suspect, they didn’t hold together as much as I thought they would and I ended up eating them with a spoon, so they were less useful for packed lunches than I hoped. I also found them a bit too sweet for my taste, so would next time add a little salt and perhaps some cinnamon or ginger to boost the flavour a bit. They were still tasty though, and were great for a mid-afternoon energy boost.
The second oat-based recipe I made was rhubarb strawberry crisp bars from Smitten Kitchen. I love rhubarb and have cooked with it a little, but have never before tried the popular combination of strawberry and rhubarb. These bars, which I made exactly as the recipe suggests, were a perfect treat.