One of the main things that we like to do within the Beamish Food Team is represent our lovely North East England surroundings through food. The item that, for me, really epitomises the food of the North East is the stottie. If you have never heard of stotties before, they are simply a type of bread that is pretty much only found in Tyne and Wear and County Durham. Although they are not made as regularly at home as they used to be, stotties usually can be found in any local bakery or supermarket!
Even the name can show variations within the region, in most places it’s just a stottie, but travel around and you’ll hear stottie bread or even stottie cake being mentioned. We like to make things individual up here! It is one of the items that people who move away from the area seem to miss and hunt down when they are visiting, there is nothing else quite like a stottie, with its flattened shape and slightly chewy, close texture.
The word stottie comes from the Geordie word “stot” or “stotting” which basically means to bounce off something. For example you can say “stotting down” for heavy rain or “stotted off” for bounced off, and for some reason “stotting” also means in a bad mood, not that we ever have need to say that here at Beamish!
How does this relates to a type of bread you might ask? The stottie would have been baked on the bottom of the oven, hence its flat- bottomed shape and particular colouring and as “stott” means to throw, the idea was that the dough was “stotted off” the bottom of the oven. The texture of the stottie is partially due to the fact that it would be a mixture of the leftover dough, so it would have already been partly proved so would not have proven to its full potential when in the stottie shape. This means it would be doughier than a normal loaf proven in the usual way.
If you visit The Pit Village, you can see a communal bread oven behind the cottages on Francis Street. This is exactly the type of oven that you would have cooked a stottie in, used by everyone in the community and definitely working class. This is why, if you visit Joseph Herron’s Bakery in our 1900s Town, you won’t find us making stotties instead of our usual cob loaves, we are far too posh and middle class for that!
You can often find stotties in our many food outlets, so you can get your fill of North East specialities while you are here, especially good with ham and pease pudding! There are loads of other delicacies specific to our region, and I want you to know about them all, so I will be including them in posts to come.