The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter

Recipes from the Land Between the Lakes

The Tale of Oak Cake Crag (#7)

The Tale of Oak Cake Crag (#7)
(click for pdf [printable] version)

These are the recipes that are included in The Tale of Oak Cake Crag (#7). Authentic Lake District foods are usually calorie-rich and based on locally grown meat, poultry, vegetables, garden-grown fruit and berries, and dairy. Mutton and lamb are favorite meats (cattle are mostly kept for their milk, rather than meat).

Oat Cakes / Potato & Sausage Soup /
Mathilda Crook's Mother's Soda Bread Recipe / Parsley's Honey Cake /
Mrs. Jennings' Apple Pudding /

Oat Cakes
oat cakes

The oat cake has been the mainstay of Scottish breads for centuries, going back at least as far as the Roman invasion and likely before. It is traditionally made almost entirely of oats, the only cereal grain that thrives in northern Scotland. Oats made up the Scottish staple diet of porridge and oat cakes, a dietary pattern which flourished across the north of England. The oat cake is a flatbread, like a pancake, made from oatmeal and sometimes flour as well, and cooked on a griddle or baked in an oven. (You may also be familiar with its cousin, the Johnnycake, which is made of cornmeal and was often cooked on a board, shovel, or even stones, just as it had been done in Scotland long before.) This version is baked.

1 cup oats or quick-cooking oats
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup shortening
2 To 3 tablespoons cold water

Mix oats, flour, baking soda, and salt. Cut in shortening with a fork or pastry blender until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add water, 1 tbsp at a time, until a stiff dough forms. Roll 1/8" thick on lightly floured surface. Cut into two-inch rounds or squares. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375°F until set and barely brown (12-15 minutes). Serve warm or freeze.

Potato & Sausage Soup

Potatoes were grown in every garden and were served at every meal. This modern recipe includes celery, but at Hill Top Farm, it would likely have been made with celeriac, which was grown as a root vegetable and valued for its celery-like taste. Also called celery root or turnip-rooted or knob celery, it contains much less starch than other root vegetables and was an important addition to soups and stews.

1½ pounds mild sausage
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 cup milk
4 medium white potatoes, peeled and diced
1½ cups yellow cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, brown sausage, chop into small pieces. Remove sausage from pan and drain off fat. Set aside. Melt butter in saucepan. Sauté onion, celery, and garlic. Add broth, water and potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain. Mash about half the potatoes in the pan. Leave the remaining in chunks. Add sausage and stir until heated. Just before serving, add cold milk, stirring constantly. Add cheese and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper.

Mathilda Crook's Mother's Soda Bread Recipe
soda bread
Photo: via Pinterest from

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons dried herbs (a combination of thyme, marjoram, sage, chives, and rosemary)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk
¼ cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325°F (165°C). Grease a 9x5" loaf pan. Combine flour, baking powder, oats, salt, baking soda, and dried herbs. Blend egg and buttermilk together, and add all at once to the flour mixture. Mix just until moistened. Stir in melted butter. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the bread comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. For best flavor, wrap in foil for several hours, or overnight.

Parsley's Honey Cake

½ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup butter
¾ cup honey
2 tablespoons cold water
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Heat the sugar, butter, honey, and water in a large pan. When the margarine has melted, beat in the eggs and vanilla. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt and add to the sugar and egg mixture in three additions, beating well after each. Pour into a greased 8" square or round pan. Bake at 350°F for about 40 minutes. Frost while warm.

Honey Frosting:
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon cold water
¾ cup confectioners. sugar

Mix honey and water, stir in sugar. Pour over warm cake.

Mrs. Jennings' Apple Pudding

Beatrix Potter's Letters Beatrix Potter bought Hill Top Farm in 1905. There were already a number of apple trees on the place. She wrote to Mille Warne the next fall that she was busy with gardening chores, including "putting liquid manure on the apple trees." In a letter dated October 6, she drew a picture of herself shoveling manure with a long-handled scoop. "The apples on the old trees prove to be very good cookers," she added. "We have had some for dinner." Miss Potter might have liked them baked in this traditional apple pudding.

1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¼ cup butter
1 cup water
1 1/3 cup sifted all-purpose flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup brown sugar
¼ cup butter, melted
½ cup milk
2½ cups sliced apples mixed with 1/3 cup brown sugar

In a saucepan, combine 1 cup brown sugar, and cornstarch, ¼ cup butter. Stir in 1 cup water; cook over low heat until thickened. Pour mixture into a lightly buttered 10x6" baking dish. In a bowl, combine sifted flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 2/3 cup brown sugar. Blend in melted butter and milk, stirring just until dampened. Stir in the sliced apples with 1/3 cup brown sugar. Pour apple batter over syrup in baking dish. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.

Click here for pdf [printable] version of these recipes

Check out some other Cottage Tales recipes:
The Tale of Applebeck Orchard (#6) / The Tale of Castle Cottage (#8)