Those who hear the expression for the first time are often puzzled by a reference to Scotland as the “Land of Cakes”. The name conjures up images of sweet desserts laden with icing, but the origin of the Land of Cakes label is actually quite different.
The term “cake” in Scotland almost invariably refers to the ubiquitous oatcake. Once the staple food of the Scottish people, the oatcake was made using just oats and water. The recipe has evolved over the centuries to include baking powder, salt, butter and flour, but it’s still considered a main part of the traditional Scottish diet. Anyone who enjoys a Tours Scotland outing needs only to ask about where to find the best oatcakes. No visit to Scotland could be complete without enjoying a few of these tasty snacks.
Two Scottish poets memorably mentioned the indispensable oatcake. The first was Robert Fergusson who wrote a poem in the late 18th century called, “The King’s Birthday in Edinburgh.” The work includes the line, “Oh, soldiers! For your ain dear sakes For Scotland, alias, Land o’ Cakes.” Later, Robert Burns utilized the same appellation in the line, “Hear, Land o’ Cakes and brither Scots,” in his work, “On the Late Captain Grose’s Peregrinations Thro’ Scotland.”
Although oatcakes were essentially the bread of the Scottish population, they did not refer to it as a loaf because that term implied oven baking and leavening. Oatcakes were unleavened and cooked on a griddle, and people were known to refer to them as a “kaak” of bread. The spelling evolved over the centuries, but the delicious, homemade goodness of oatcakes remains intact.
To learn more about oatcakes and the nation’s colorful history, book an outing with Tours Scotland. are the perfect introduction to an earlier, fascinating era.