The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Oatmeal - a pictorial translation aid!

helend's picture

Oatmeal - a pictorial translation aid!

In response to my digestive biscuit blog I have attempted to photograph the "fine oatmeal" I specified in the recipe. I only know the following versions of oats but hope fellow subscribers can help if this doesn't compute ...

On the left porridge oat (rolled oats) - flattish flakes


On the right fine oatmeal - coarser than ground almonds, with irregular nubbly lumps slightly larger than overall sandy effect.

Sorry about the stray oat flake that have migrated left to right

Hope this helps!


Helend :)


mse1152's picture

That helps loads!


pmccool's picture

I can get either rolled oats (colloquially known as oatmeal here in the US), which are too coarse, or oat flour, which is too fine, at my local markets.  It looks like my best shot at duplicating the texture is to run rolled oats through a blender or food processor until they are reduced to a coarse or medium meal.  Does that sound practical?

I had been thinking of using the same technique with rye flakes to approximate rye chops or a pumpernickel grind, since I can buy the flakes locally but haven't located a source for the chops or the pumpernickel.


browndog's picture

You can buy Irish oatmeal at most grocery stores in the cereal aisle. I believe it is coarser rather than fine, but if you ran that through your food processor I think you'd have a pretty close match. Otherwise buy steel-cut oats in bulk, just about any reasonably supplied co-op has them, and do the same thing. Helen's description and photo are clear enough to work from in judging texture.

As concerns rye chops or pumpernickel, there again the most authentic thing you can do is buy rye berries and grind or proccess them til they're well-chopped but not approaching flour, you're making cracked rye really. Add that to fine rye flour in a 1:1 proportion and that's pumpernickel, more or less. Since flakes may be easier to find, though, you could just go ahead and grind them and it'll be our secret. The chopped berries will naturally be coarser and chewier, but probably not that noticable in the finished loaf after all.

helend's picture

I think that sounds like a good idea, PMcCool.

I have been examining my "fine oatmeal" closely. The faintly coarser granules have a chopped appearance and feel quite hard and gritty with finer, more sawdusty granules too.

Some of my recipe books say you can substitute coarse or medium oatmeal for fine so I guess it is simply a matter of pulsing to get the right feel for your tastes. 

Do you know what steel-cut oats are?  Browndog mentions them and I don't know if these are a possibilty.


browndog's picture

The difference between 'our' oatmeal in the States and Irish, Scottish, and apparently English oatmeal is that we take the oat groat, that is the whole oat, and flatten or roll it. Voila, rolled oats. Steel-cut oats are comparable to rye chops or cracked wheat, the groat has been cut two or three times rather than flattened. I guess the Scots grind theirs? and that must introduce another facet and texture, I can never seem to find out all the details I want about this. Anyhow, steel-cut oats are perfectly available in co-ops or whole food places, plus you can buy Irish oatmeal pretty easily and that is simply, worldly steel-cut oats. Now I am trying to figure out if the Irish 'quick-cooking' oats might be more like your fine oatmeal, Helen. Can you tell us what brand your oats are, or do you buy bulk?

The same is true for rye and wheat flakes, by the way, it's the difference between flattening the whole berry versus cutting or grinding it.

helend's picture

I ususally buy rolled oats in multiple 1kg bags from the supermarket - sometimes they are the "Mornflake" brand, sometimes own brand. They are pretty cheap here approx 80p-£1 a kilo. The traditional brand is Quaker - man in (English word) vest and kilt on the front. I think these are sometimes called Porridge oats and I believe they are Scottish oats. Sometimes the supermarkets sell versions labelled "Scottish" porridge/jumbo porridge oats but I think this is just to impress on you the "traditional" or "heritage" connection - the British Isles are wet enough all over to grow oats well (although Wales is too hilly).

I never buy anything"quick-cooking" so don't know but I seem to remember browsing on the (American?) Quaker oats site that sometimes specifies NOT to use these. I also think they sometimes refer to "old-fashioned" oats??? Anway there are some good recipes on that site but they all seem to use what I would call porridge/rolled oats.

As to oatmeal, I tend to use either locally milled oatmeal if I can get it from the farmer's market or sometimes supermarket own brand/health food shop ....

At the moment I am using "the Oatmeal of Alford" bought from a supermarket (pricy at about £3.40 akilo - but it does go a long way. This is organic and quite well known. They definitely have a website.

I've always assumed that English (Scottish, Irish etc) oatmeal is ground like flour, just coarser. But I know that the more I find out, the less I know - for example - I have never heard of rye chops!




Uberkermit's picture

Alton Brown (host of the Food Network show 'Good Eats') dedicated an entire episode to oats and their variations. If I recall, there's Whole Oats or "Groats", which are literally the oat with just the outer hull removed, Steel-cut oats (Irish oatmeal) have been cut by steel blades, rolled oats (American "old-fashioned" oatmeal) are steamed and then flattened with rollers, and American "quick oats" are rolled oats that have been steamed, flattened with rollers, and then par-cooked.

browndog's picture

Well, Helen! I've learned something today. The oatmeal you have, Oatmeal of Alford, (beautiful site, they don't ship outside the UK, :( ) is Scottish and stone ground. So now we're getting somewhere, though I'm not sure exactly how to duplicate that, other than picking up a couple of rocks and having at it... But I imagine a good turn in the food processor or blender til it feels something like how you described, ought to work.Bob's Red Mills also carries it, I found, and had this to say:

Oatmeal originated in Scotland centuries ago and was different from our modern rolled oats. A coarse meal was produced by slowly grinding the kernel between two large mill stones. Our Scottish Oatmeal is produced in the same old fashioned way and contains all the health giving nutrients of the best quality oats from which it was ground--the germ, the oil and the fiber. The result is a surprisingly unique and flavorful hot cereal.
and from another site:
Scotch oats or steel-cut oats or Irish oatmeal are all names for groats that have been cut into 2 to 3 pieces and not rolled. They take considerably longer to cook than rolled oats and have a decidedly chewy texture.
mse1152's picture

Browndog & Helen,

I forgot!  I use it to make oatmeal scones from this recipe on Bob's Red Mill website.  So it would probably work well in the digestives too.


qahtan's picture


 We buy our oats from health food store at 10 K sack, it is organic large flakes and makes great porridge but takes a while to cook.

The first time I made oatmeal bread I ground the oats to fine, couldn't even tell it was in the bread, so next time I used the flakes as is was/is good, see picture.

 Fine oatmeal is great for Yorkshire Parkin,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, qahtan 


breadlife's picture

Hello qahtan,

I cannot find your recipe for oatmeal bread. Can you post it on The pictures are fabulous