If you don't know what stotties are, get the basics about this delicious cake from Northeast England with this primer. And if you've had the pleasure of enjoying the food before, learn more about its origins. If you live outside of England, find out how stotties compare to cakes in your neck of the woods.
The Origins of the Stottie
Foods like stotties can be found all over the world. Also known as stottie cake and spelled "stotty," the cake is a large, round flatbread. Sometimes, stotties are as large as 30 centimeters, or 11.8 inches, in diameter!
The cake originated in the part of England just outside of Newcastle. The word "stottie" comes from the term "to stott," which in the local Geordie vernacular means "to bounce." The Geordie dialect has origins in the tongue spoken by the Anglo-Saxon settlers of England. It also has Scottish and Irish influences and is today associated with English people who have a working-class background. That's fitting, given that stotties were most popular among working-class Brits. The cake has even been described as a "pillar of poverty cuisine."
Today, more privileged Brits eat the food as well, but there's debate about which group makes it correctly. While the working-class prefers stotties to be crusty, mass-produced stotties tend to be softer.
So, what's the connection between stotting, or bouncing, and this cake? Well, traditionally, makers of the cake bounced it on kitchen floors to determine if it was the right texture. Cakes that failed to bounce were tossed out. But due to concerns about hygiene, this practice has fallen by the wayside.
How the Food Was Made Traditionally
Originally, the stottie was a quite heavy, chewy bread made from leftover dough on the coolest part of the coal-fired oven, according to British newspaper the Independent. Thanks to modern bread cooking techniques, however, the cakes are now much lighter. Special mixers knead the dough to the ideal texture, as the stottie does need to be solid enough to hold a hefty filling once it's split. Egg and bacon are particularly popular fillings for stotties. In this way, it's similar to savory, doughy dishes like quiches, which often use the same foods as fillings.
The Newcastle bakery chain Greggs of Gosforth is well known for making stottie cakes and keeps a tight lid on its recipe for the dish. That said, anyone can make a stottie if they have the very simple ingredients needed: flour, salt, sugar, yeast, white pepper, and water. If you've made any sort of bread before, this should be a cinch, though mastering the texture may be tricky.
Stotties Outside of the Newcastle Area
Stottie may be the name for such cakes in Newcastle, but similar bread cakes are made in other parts of the United Kingdom. Rather than stotties, they are typically referred to as oven cakes, oven bottom cakes or bread cakes. No matter what they're called, these cakes are delicious!