Oatcakes with lemon and za'atar

Oatcakes are a healthy alternative to crisps and shop-bought crackers. And you can make them yourself.

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A conscientious eater will no doubt veer away from consuming too many crisps, on the premise that this processed snack is a nutritionally poor one, but high in saturated fat, calories and sodium. As we all know, it's easy to devour a large packet without really registering what you're doing.

Crackers may seem like a healthier option but they are by no means completely innocuous. Unless you scan the contents and nutritional information of shop-bought varieties with an eagle eye you can easily be misled. They are often surprisingly calorific, made with refined flour (which has a high glycaemic index and causes a rapid rise in blood sugar levels) and can contain trans fats.

While healthier, wholegrain crackers are available in shops they are often expensive and/or disappointing in terms of taste. Making your own crackers may seem like a hassle but the recipe below is really simple.

It can also be easily adapted with the addition of different herbs and spices or types of flour and grains (for example, you could swap the flour for sesame seeds for a change or use millet to make a gluten-free version).

Oats are an excellent, heart-healthy ingredient. They are low in fat and are a good source of soluble fibre, which can help to lower cholesterol. The crackers below have a wholesome, nutty flavour and the za'atar gives them a bit of a kick. They can be cut into rounds, sliced into strips or baked as a whole sheet and broken into pieces once cooked.

Oatcakes with lemon and za'atar

Makes: 20 round crackers (5cm diameter)

200g fine stoneground oatmeal
100g wholemeal plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons mustard seeds, toasted
teaspoon sea salt
zest of 1 lemon
5-6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
100-120ml water
1 tsp za'atar


Preheat the oven to 180C/ fan 160C/ gas 4. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the oatmeal, flour, mustard seeds, salt and lemon zest together in a large bowl, food processor or stand mixer with a dough attachment. Add the olive oil, stirring it in with a fork if you are doing this by hand. At this point the mixture will be quite crumbly. Gradually add the water and mix until the dough comes together to form a ball.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour and roll the dough out to about 5mm thick. Sprinkle over the za'atar and cut the biscuits into desired shapes. Place on the prepared baking tray and cook for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned.

Remove from the oven, leave to cool for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

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