Oat meal and oat flakes

Oats-thumbThere are two important forms in which oats are used in baked products. Oatmeal (sometimes known as groats) is a coarse branny flour and oat flakes, or rolled oats.

Oatmeal is often milled between stones and the separation of bran and endosperm is never as complete as in wheat flour production. Typically it is a coarse type of flour.

Oat flakes are produced from cut pieces of cleaned grain which are graded to ensure an even sized production of flakes in the subsequent rolling process.

The flakes can be rolled to a desired thickness. Typically they are about 0.45mm (0.018 inches) thick and about 8 mm (0.3 inches) in diameter. Other flakes used in biscuits can be as much as 0.8 mm (0.03 inches) thick.

The high fat content of oatmeal and oat flakes may cause problems with rancidity in storage. To reduce this problem a technique of heat treatment of the grain before milling, known as stabilisation, has been developed. This inactivates the fat splitting enzyme, lipase, which is released when the germ is damaged, and considerably extends the shelf life of the meal or flakes. However, because of the relatively high fat content of oats, oat flakes and oatmeal should be used as soon as possible otherwise rancidity and off flavours will develop.

Oatmeal or oat flakes have a protein content of about 12%, fat of about 7% and moisture between 9 and 10%.

Oatmeal and flakes may be used in short dough biscuits and oatcakes. They are not used in hard doughs because they disrupt the gluten structure and cause the dough to be non extensible.

Oatmeal biscuits are dense and short, rather friable, biscuits with a distinctive flavour. Typically they are made by mixing oatmeal with roughly its own weight of wheat flour and then processing as for short dough biscuits.

Oat flakes are very attractive in cookie or wire cut biscuits because they add texture and flavour. Here again, the dough is short and particular attention should be paid to the dough consistency as oat flakes have a very slow water absorption and often different deliveries have marked differences in absorption characteristics. This is probably associated with the conditions of the stabilising process at the mill.

Oatmeal and oat flakes are always supplied in paper sacks. They should be stored and handled in similar conditions to wheat flour and bran.