Homemade oatcakes, poached pears and cheese selection

These sweet, scented pears in a syrup of dessert wine and brandy make the ideal accompaniment to good cheese and crumbly oatcakes from Valentine Warner
By Valentine Warner
Homemade oatcakes, poached pears and cheese selection
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Cook Time:
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Effort: easy


For the oatcakes

  • 125 g fine oatmeal
  • pinches bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp lard, melted, plus extra for greasing
  • hot water, to bind

For the pears

  • 4 pears
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 x 375ml bottle dessert wine
  • 100 ml brandy
  • 1 orange, pared zest and juice only
  • 1 lemon, pared zest and juice only
  • 2 bay leaves

Tips and Suggestions

Valentine recommends the following cheeses to accompany the oatcakes: Cropwell Bishop Stilton, Mont dOr, Mrs. Kirkham's Lancashire, Cambus OMay.


1. For the oatcakes: preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Lightly grease a baking sheet with lard.

2. Mix the dry oatcake ingredients together in a bowl, with a pinch of salt, then stir in the lard and enough hot water to bind the mixture into a firm dough.

3. To shape the oatcakes, place the dough between two sheets of baking paper and roll out to a thickness of about 0.5cm. Cut into triangles or rounds, or any shape you like, then transfer to the baking sheet. Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until crisp and golden and slightly curled at the edges. Leave to cool for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

4. For the pears: peel the pears and put them into a large saucepan. Sprinkle over the sugar then pour in the wine and brandy. Add the lemon and orange zest and juice and bay leaves.

5. Place over a medium heat and bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 30-45 minutes until softened but still holding their shape. Remove the pears from the syrup and leave to cool. Reserve the syrup. If the syrup is too thin, return to the heat and boil for a few minutes to reduce to a syrupy consistency.

6. To serve, arrange the cheeses on a platter or board and serve at room temperature with a stack of oatcakes alongside. Sliced the pears into quarters, drizzle with some of the reserved syrup and serve with the cheese and oatcakes.

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