Oat Cakes are most definitely a Canadian Heritage Food.
Even though they been documented as existing in Scotland since at least the time of the Roman conquest of Britain in AD 43, and likely before then. Oatcakes have also been described as being the “mainstay of Scottish breads for centuries”. Jean Le Bel, around 1357-60 describes the Beguine nuns making “little pancakes rather like communion wafers”. This is thought to be an early description of a Scottish oatcake. (Wikipedia)
The Canadian version varies, but all differ from the original Scottish oatcakes and is another food that has evolved from one’s homeland to become a unique Canadian food. Theoretically, Cape Breton and Pictou are famous for their oatcakes in Nova Scotia. My first oatcake was on the South Shore in Nova Scotia, at The LaHave Bakery. They are also famous for their oatcakes and after having one, I know why!
I was just taking one more round at the bakery as there is just so much to see when I spied the basket of oatcakes. I must. Yet, I was not hungry, we had lunch just ahead of us, and so much packed in the car, so I changed my mind, and bought only one. Big regret. Buy. As. Many. As. You. Can. Pack.
Being an oatcake virgin, I had no frame of reference for how they were “supposed to be”, but did ask if they were known for their oatcakes before buying one. “They are our number one seller. That’s what brings people here. Everyone asks for our oatcakes.” Even Vanja was yumming and mmmming. These were sweet. Not like a cookie, but cookie-esque. The texture was flakey, but not crumbly. Not moist, not dry. I tried to take a cross section so you could get a sense of the texture, visually.
The flavour – in my favourite non-descript word – scrumptious. I would guess brown sugar, oats, whole wheat or spelt flour. The biscuit-cake-cracker-cookie actually gave me a sense of eating something really healthy and good for me. I need the recipe. Sadly, and ironically, we never came across oatcakes again, our entire trip until the day before coming home at the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market. The Lavender Oatcakes at the Lavender Booth were good. The Hutterite ones were like hard and dry bread-bun-biscuits. Completely different. There was nothing like these oatcakes anywhere in Cape Breton during our time there. Could not find one. I am craving oatcakes, do not have a recipe and would really appreciate it if you are reading this and have a recipe you love that you would share with me.
Walked in the door, and immediately in front of us is a huge gorgeous old room that you just want to stay in and play in. No matter how old. Two counters, one at each end of the room: right and left.
Adjacent to this large room is a bright narrow room for sitting and eating which used to be the drafting room.
Immediately to the right of the front door, just before the drafting room, are these charming stools at a bar overlooking the front street.
The door we came in is to the left, above. You can see each counter and the large room filled with old counters, flooring, shelving, counters and a cash register like one not seen since my childhood.
It simply deserved a moment.
We had just left Lunenburg in the morning, had a lovely scenic drive through the countryside, to Hirtle Beach, and came over in the ferry: a great little shortcut. Time for morning coffee.
The coffee was really, really good coffee. It was hard to find espresso in the country side in Nova Scotia or anywhere in the Atlantic Provinces that we visited, so we were thrilled.
The view from the coffee counter to the other counter.
We sat in the back corner of the old drafting room, admiring the old cabinetry.
And the menu. I wanted the soup, the Haddock Burgar, the Brunch and an assortment of their dessert pastries.
They sell some very special local preserves, but I just could not. I was so hoping the craft co-op was open as each Summer The LaHave Bakery lower level hosts some of the finest craftspeople in the area and they sell samples of their work. I was dying to see the wooden carvings. They also house beautiful hand-made quilts, hand-made leather footwear and so much more. Of course, it was opening up that weekend. Ah, shoulder season.
Charming little vignettes were everywhere.
Can you imagine buying eggshell plant food? Someone had a smart idea.
Local handmade Canadian knives!
And the preserves were endless. I was able to taste some. Want. Longing. If you are traveling during the Summer, and planning a visit to the LaHave Bakery, they are “part of a proud artistic community within the historic South Shore region of Lunenburg County.” And will make suggestions for other stops along your travels. The LaHave Bakery is 15 mins from Bridgewater on the Lighthouse Route (Rte 331). Being close to the LaHave River ferry drop off point, it’s also a quick trip .