The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Clap Bread Recipe

CountryBoy's picture

Clap Bread Recipe

I am sure all of you folks are way too busy to read Elizabeth Gaskell's book entitled Mary Barton, however, I am reading it and she mentions Clap bread as a local bread for early 19th Century Manchester, England.

I checked Google and they have nothing.  Would you?

AnnieT's picture

Country Boy, Elizabeth David mentions it in English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Kendal Oatcakes or Clap Bread, 1698. Looks as though the "clapping" was pounding the dough on a shaped wooden board until it was as thin as paper, then "they have a plaite of iron the same size with their clap board and so shove off the cake on it and so set it on the coals and bake it...". Don't you love the "shove"? I see in the index she also calls it riddle bread. No recipe is given, just flour and water. So this was much earlier, and maybe someone can come up with the recipe, A.

CountryBoy's picture

 AnnieT , many thanks for the info.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

That discriptions sounds like wafers to me.   I have seen the antique irons in museums and demonstrated at fairs.  With dough or batter.

Today variations of the waffers can be purchased in all sizes and are used under tortes (as cake bottoms) filled with cream and stacked on each other to make desserts, bar cookies, etc.  Most often sold already filled as waffer cookies (those dry delicacies that stick to the roof of your mouth) or sandwiched with ice cream.  

Could they be the fore-runners to waffles as we know them today?   maybe more under waffeln, waffelblätter, oblaten, Schweitzer waffeln.  

Mini O

manuela's picture

Lancashire dialect (1875) they define clap bread as made of oats.

The definition the book gives is: A thin cake of oatmeal unleavened. Also called haver-bread and clap-cake.

It is also mentioned in an American book by W. A. Alcott (1848) called The Young House-Keeper; or Thoughts on Foods and Cookery.

My understanding is that it refers to oat cakes made with water, salt, perhaps lard, pounded thin and cooked on a griddle.


if you look for haver-bread you will find several recipes, such as:

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Thanks for sharing.

PaddyL's picture

This is from Theodora Fitzgibbons' The Food of the Western World.

"Haver, from the Norse havre (oats), the name in the north of England, particularly the West Riding of Yorkshire, for a thin oatcake or loaf.  It was introduced into Yorkshire by the armies of John of Hainault in the 12th century.  Later on, the Lancashire Regiment were known as "Havercake Lads".  The haver consists of fine oatmeal, yeast, and warm water, and originally it was baked on the flat, hot hearthstone from which the ashes were brushed back.  The bread keeps very well and used to be stored in "haver racks", shaped like a large square harp, which were suspended from the ceilings of cottages.  In the South, a similar smaller oatcake is called a clapper, from the practice of making it very thin by clapping it between the two hands."

You could probably adapt an oatcake recipe by making it very thin and frying it.

CountryBoy's picture

You are all so great.

You have out done Google!

I never saw that done before!!!

Many thanks!!!!

PaddyL's picture

There's still lots of room out there in our world for books!

Anna Lauren's picture
Anna Lauren

In an old rhyme book I have called Katch me aand Kiss me and Say it Again by Clyde and Wendy Watson,  there is a rhyme about clap cakes, it says

"Clapcake, Clapcake

Butter & Milk

Honey & Ginger

Whipped to Silk

Oatmeal, Cornmeal

A penny-pinch of Flour

Clap us out a Clapcake

And bake it for an hour"