“Sod the purists!” is fast becoming our mantra here at Munching Matilda and, frankly, why not? There’s always room to have fun with a few classics and, dare we say it, even improve them with a few twists and flourishes. This week, the purists we may well be offending are those from the north-east for whom stotties will always be a plain disc of bread-like substance.
Still, I am pushing on regardless with my variation on stotties in which I use potato to help the dough along – and add carrot, cheese and rosemary for extra flavour. In short, I had some carrots I needed to get rid of before they became flaccid and depressing. It’s all part of our war on food waste here at Munching Matilda – there is almost always something you can do with the stuff you find in the fridge that will beat throwing it away. I’ve started taking this to the next level by saving my vegetable scraps for vegetable stock, which is going really well. I got seven freezer bags of stock from my last stock cooking jamboree, I currently have three bags left and I should run out just in time to make another giant batch.
But I digress. I’m here to show you how to make stotties with a twist. I first tried stotties at the famous Centurion bar at Newcastle Central station. It is a magnificent bar of tiled magnificence and if you’re ever in the Toon, I urge you to visit, even if it’s just for a pre-train coffee. I was served with a very satisfying stottie indeed – warm, crusty on the outside and soft in the middle. I’d been meaning to teach myself to make them for years. My husband regaled me with tales of his grandmother’s stotties, so the pressure was on to meet the stottie standard of the late, great Betty McMillan. I’m not sure what she would have made of my carrot, cheese and rosemary additions, but I still hope I did her proud.
A tip via Betty that my husband passed on to me was to watch the cooking time very closely. And he was right – stotties can very quickly go from a squishy ball of dough in the oven to a cremation. It is the bread equivalent of cooking with sugar on a hot stove. One distraction and it could end in tragedy. As my Terrible Oven generally cooks unevenly and runs too hot, I found 15 minutes was enough time in the oven, but most recipes recommend 20 minutes. All I can advise is to not stray too far from the oven during the cooking time and hopefully you too can enjoy stottie success. I served these with a creamy celery and pea soup, which made for a hearty Saturday dinner – even my usually soup-averse husband agreed.