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Grandma’s Scottish Oat Rolls | Sortachef

Grandma’s Scottish Oat Rolls

My grandmother was always a great one for thrift. In her house you could open any drawer to find bits of string, twist ties, rubber bands from every newspaper that landed on her doorstep or old Christmas cards she used by the bucketload for making lists. In later years, she’d show up at our house and – right at that moment when the dinner table was all set to my mother’s exacting standard – announce that she’d brought, say, a pear to go along with dinner. She just couldn’t stand to see anything go to waste.

My grandparents with their beloved dog 'Dinky', circa 1980

Once as a boy, after having been treated by my grandparents to Smorgasbord at the Collegeville Inn, I looked up to see my little Scottish grandma surreptitiously filling her handbag with food. The man who came to clear plates saw what she was doing, but before he could say anything my grandma quickly closed her bag. Then she sat there all sweet and innocent as if nothing had happened. We looked at our plates.

“Lord knows they have enough food here,” she said brightly at last, pushing aside the incident. “The least they can do is spare some for the dog!”

We all laughed. My grandfather shook his head and gave her one of his looks, but I remember him laughing too.

Now, Grandma’s go-to ingredient in the kitchen was oatmeal. Oatmeal featured in her meatloaf. It went into hamburgers to make more patties from a pound. And last week at the cabin, when I was looking for a way to stretch my dwindling supply of flour, I remembered that about her. Sure I could have driven 25 miles to a store to get some more flour. But would my grandma go and do that? Never in a million years!

And so, with my little Scottish grandma looking over my shoulder, I took down some rolled oats and mixed them with hot water. I added my other ingredients once the oats had cooled. After two rises, I made some rolls that were sweet and a bit nutty, just perfect for any occasion. A bit of smoked salmon? Some kale brose, or cock-a-leekie soup?  

Oh, yeah. Grandma definitely would have approved!

Grandma’s Scottish Oat Rolls


Makes 6 or 8 rolls, depending on size

1 ¼ cups of rolled oats, divided

2 cups of hot water (150°)

1 ½ teaspoons of dry yeast

2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons of salt

¼ cup brown sugar

2 Tablespoons of softened butter

¾ cup flour for bench work


Soak the oatmeal: Put 1 cup of rolled oats into a large mixing bowl and reserve the other ¼ cup for later. Pour 2 cups of very warm water over the oats and let them sit for 30-40 minutes until the oats have swelled and the water temperature has dropped to about 100°.

Make the dough: Add yeast, 2 ½ cups of flour, salt sugar and softened butter to the oat mixture. Mix thoroughly with the handle of a wooden spoon, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Let dough sit for 10 minutes and then turn it out onto a well-floured surface and knead for 10 minutes to make a soft dough.

First rise: Cover and let rise at room temperature for 1 ½ to 2 hours until nearly doubled in size.

Second rise: Punch down and invert the dough. Cover and let rise 1 to 1 ½ hours at room temperature until nearly doubled in size again.

Shape the rolls: Lightly grease a cookie sheet and sprinkle it with half the remaining oats. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide into 6 or 8 pieces. Form pieces into slightly flattened balls and arrange them an inch or so apart on the oat-covered cookie sheet. Brush the tops of the rolls twice with some warm water and then sprinkle the rest of the oats onto them. Push down lightly with your hand to make the oats stick better. Cover rolls with a tea towel and let rise for a final 45 minutes.

Bake the rolls: Preheat oven to 400°. Bake rolls for 25 minutes, until the tops are nicely brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 30 minutes on a rack before digging in.

And watch out for little Scottish grandmas at your table. You just might catch them slipping some of those lovely Scottish Oat Rolls into their bags for an evening snack. Just kidding, you know, Grandma!  

Scottish Oat Rolls in their native habitat before baking

8 comments to Grandma’s Scottish Oat Rolls

  • I think these buns sound very grandma-worthy – comforting, homey and delicious! (OK, and thrifty too… but in a GOOD way)
    I love playing with different grains in my breads, but I’ve never gotten around to trying oatmeal. Will definitely have to, now that you’ve inspired me with these lovely fluffy rolls.

  • not that i needed any persuading to eat and/or bake more bread, but this does the trick! those look phenominal

  • What a perfect roll. And what a lovely story! I’m sure your grandmother is super proud of you over these :-) I’m totally going to make these when the weather gets a little cooler. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe and story!

  • My Scottish Grandma would definitely approve as well! The rolls look great. The memory of your Grandma, was wonderful, not to mention similar to an experience with my grandparents! Not only was everything saved, it was organized as well! Thank you for sharing!

  • Yummy and delicious! Indeed! I hope my grandma bake something like this. Anyway thank you for sharing it up. :)

  • I’ll have to remember these Don the next time I am out of flour, but why wait till then.

  • I love the cute little story about your grandmother in the restaurant! Too precious!

    And way to do your grandmother justice with these rolls – they look amazing =)

  • Charlie

    God Love Her!

    Someone should have told her about doggie bags!

    These sound good, I’ll give them a try for supper.

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At Woodfiredkitchen.com, Sortachef takes you on adventures in the kitchen and beyond, with tales to suit. Many of his offerings are woodfired - a flaming good recipe for pizza, bread, or something different. All recipes are original and tasty. Enjoy!
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