Manna Café Oatcakes (Oatmeal Pancakes)

Some recipes are just too good to be lost to time, too special to be kept secret. Today's easy one-bowl pancakes come to you out of kindness and hospitality. From the owners of a neighborhood restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin which for years placed stacks of hearty American-style oat pancakes before hungry patrons. From the Kitchen Parade reader who remembers the restaurant and its pancakes so fondly. For all for us.
Lucky us!

Manna Café Oatcakes ♥ Famous oatmeal pancakes from the much-missed restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin.

American Pancakes Made from Scratch with Lots of Oats and Minimal Flour. No Blender, No Mixer Required. No Banana! Perfect for Family Breakfasts Both Sweet and Savory. Budget Friendly. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Easy Weeknight Supper, Hello Pancake Night. Vegetarian.

~ PIN This ~

  • "These are magnificent!" ~ One Very Happy Husband
  • "Wow. So Good. They were perfect." ~ Sue from Alabama

The Breakfast Gods Know.

I hardly need one more pancake recipe. I have my mom's, my sister's and even already oatmeal pancakes sweetened with banana.

But when a reader titled her email "The Oatcakes of My Dreams" – well, I paid attention. Thank you, Mary B! And that was before learning that ...

  • Mary's dreamy oat pancakes were a signature dish at Manna Café & Bakery near her home in Madison, Wisconsin.
  • That is, until the Café closed after 15 years, leaving Mary and fellow pancake lovers longing for stacks of Manna's earthy, textured hotcakes.

My own was an inexplicable loss but somehow I too felt nostalgic about the closing of a favorite neighborhood spot. Worse, a road trip to the homey place with memorable pancakes was forever ill-fated. What, wouldn't everyone drive 400 miles for remarkable pancakes?!

But then? I fell deep into the Manna Café rabbit hole pancake plate. Because it turns out ...

  • After the restaurant closed, co-owner Barb Pratzel wrote a book, part memoir/part cookbook, almost 400 pages of stories and recipes.
  • Moreover, her co-owner and husband Mike is the Wisconsin branch of a St. Louis family which ran St. Louis' famous kosher bakery, Pratzel's Bakery, a St. Louis institution for almost 100 years before it too closed.

Wait, what? Pratzels Bakery? You mean the place with such memorable rye bread I made special trips, almost pilgrimages, just for bread? Yeah. That Pratzel's.

And you wonder why I absolutely completely resolutely needed another pancake recipe? And another cookbook?! Maybe you do too?!

MORE INFO About Manna Café, see Madison's Cap Times lovely story, including how the cookbook came to be, Make It Like Manna: Cookbook Captures Bygone Madison Cafe.

ORDER THE COOKBOOK It's available only from Little Creek Press, a small Wisconsin publisher, see Manna Café and Bakery Cookbook: A Memoir of Two Businesses, a Community and the Food That Connected Them by Barb Pratzel.

MORE INFO About Pratzel's Bakery in St. Louis, Pratzel's Closes After 98 Years.

Manna Café Oatcakes ♥ Famous oatmeal pancakes from the much-missed restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin.

About This Recipe

  • Manna Cafe's Oatcakes are similar to other pancakes except they're made with oatmeal (also called rolled oats, which are whole-grain) plus a small amount of flour. Off the griddle, they're thick and dark brown, full of texture with an almost nutty oat flavor, somehow soft but sturdy.
  • Distinctive Ingredients = Rolled Oats, that's just uncooked old-fashioned oatmeal, not quick oats (though honestly, I think quick oats would work fine but the texture would be different) nor instant oats (which wouldn't work)
  • Short Ingredient List = the oats + butter + sugar + eggs + vanilla + buttermilk + flour + baking powder + baking soda + salt
  • For serving, gather up whatever you love to put on pancakes, butter, syrup, fruit, etc.
  • This is pantry-friendly recipe, don't you have all the ingredients in your kitchen right this very minute?! Hint: so are most pancakes!
  • For cooking, you'll need a large skillet, preferably non-stick. Do know, a skillet works fine but you'll only cook three or so pancakes at a time. We usually pull out a griddle, either electric or cast iron, they're usually good for nine or so pancakes at a time.
  • Timing wise, plan ahead a bit because the batter must rest for 45 minutes between mixing and cooking. UPDATE A reader makes the batter the night before, refrigerates it and reports great results!
  • As written, the recipe makes 16 medium-size pancakes but it's easily cut in half, that just might work for anyone who is Cooking for One or Two.
  • So good! I hope you love these!

  • If your pancake eaters are chomping at the bit, try my Triple-Banana Oat Pancakes. You'll need a blender but there's no need to let the batter rest.
  • Not quite what you're looking for? Check out my other breakfast & brunch recipes, scroll down a bit for more pancake ideas. Better still, let me open your mind to this concept, Make Tonight a Pancake Night!
Manna Café Oatcakes ♥ Famous oatmeal pancakes from the much-missed restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin.

Oatcakes vs, Um, Oatcakes

Manna Café Oatcakes are oat-based American-style pancakes, cooked on a griddle and served hot with butter and maple syrup or your own favorite pancake condiments.

Scottish Oatcakes look like cookies but are actually thick rolled crackers made with oats. They're sturdy and while savory, slightly sweet. They'd make a great second cracker for Charcuterie for Two!

Look for Scottish Oatcakes in the cookie section at grocery stores or if you'd like to make your own, I like the looks of this recipe from Bob's Red Mill.

Manna Café Oatcakes ♥ Famous oatmeal pancakes from the much-missed restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin.

How to Make Manna Café's Oatcakes

The detailed recipe is written in traditional recipe form below but here are the highlights in three easy steps. If you can make pancakes, you can definitely do this!

  • MIX THE BATTER in just one bowl, no special tricks, no need for a blender or a mixer. Just look how much oatmeal!
  • LET THE BATTER REST while you prep the rest of breakfast, go back to bed for a short nap, ride the exercise bike ... you'll know what's right. (One reader even makes the batter the night before. How handy is that?!)
  • MAKE PANCAKES! We love our cast iron griddles but for a crowd, I'd pull out the electric griddle (affiliate link).
Manna Café Oatcakes ♥ Famous oatmeal pancakes from the much-missed restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin.

You Might Wonder Be Wondering ...

Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

  • Are Manna Café Oatcakes just pancakes made with oatmeal? Yes! This recipe, anyway, is for American-style pancakes fortified with a high proportion of whole-grain oats.

  • Why does the batter need a rest period? Mix the batter, then let it rest for 45 minutes. (Maybe you go back to bed for your own little rest? LOL) During this rest time, the whole-grain oats soak up moisture and soften. This means that once the pancake batter hits the hot griddle, the oats can fully cook in the few minutes spent on the heat. Without the rest period, I suspect your pancakes would be filled with tough oat pellets.
Manna Café Oatcakes ♥ Famous oatmeal pancakes from the much-missed restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin.

For Best Results

For my weekly column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I interviewed chefs and translated their restaurant recipes for home kitchens. The most iluminating question? "How can a home cook ensure the same results?" So now I ask that question of myself, too, for my own recipes. Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

Buy the Right Oats Look for oatmeal that's obviously a grain of oats, just dried and flattened. Bob's Red Mill has a good one. Me, I'm a longtime Quaker Oats fan, choose Quaker Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats, look for it in tall cardboard tubs in the cereal aisle. (Here's a real insider tip. Buy Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats at a regular grocery store, not at Sam's Club. They're labeled the same but the Sam's version is closer to loose quick oats, not the lovely whole-grain texture of rolled oats. Not smart, Quaker. Agreed?) FYI this recipe is not suited for anything labeled "Instant Oats" which typically are parcooked and contain sugar and other flavorings.

Melt the Butter in the Microwave To mix the batter in a single bowl, I've written the recipe so that the butter gets melted right at the start. I usually do this in the microwave. To prevent the butter from splattering all over, I cut it up into pieces and cover the pieces with the butter wrapper. Then, this is important, run the microwave in spurts, 10 or 15 seconds at a time. Then I have you cool down the hot butter by stirring in the sugar, importantly, this is before adding the eggs which would cook if added to hot butter. Smart, eh? You can often make simple adjustments like this to your own recipes, just watch for similar opportunities.

Do Allow Time for the Batter to Rest Some oatmeal pancake recipes have you run the oats through a food processor to make "oat flour". The upside to the blender technique is that the floury-ish oats can then quickly absorb liquid, no need for a rest period. Here, the oats are left whole, this gives the Oatcakes their characteristic texture but it does take about 45 minutes for the oats to plump up with buttermilk. (Good News! A reader reports great results when making the batter the night before. Just refrigerate it and in the morning, you're good to go!)

Size Matters The pancakes are just a little tricky to flip. It helps to use a metal spatula and a griddle without sides, also to make pancakes smaller than you might be used to with a scant quarter-cup of batter.

Manna Café Oatcakes ♥ Famous oatmeal pancakes from the much-missed restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin.

Hungry Yet?
An Easy Breakfast, Brunch (or Supper?!) Pancake Menu

Baked Bacon
Manna Café Oatcakes
(recipe below)
with Soft Butter & Maple Syrup
Fried, Scrambled or Poached Eggs
Fresh Fruit or a Fruit Salad
Hot Coffee or Sugar-Free Chai Tea

Manna Café Oatcakes ♥ Famous oatmeal pancakes from the much-missed restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin.

What Makes Oatcakes Special

  • ... thick and full of texture but still very much pancakes
  • ... high proportion of whole-grain oats
  • ... budget-friendly, no crazy ingredients or specialty flours
  • ... light in weight but somehow more substantial
  • ... sturdy and filling but somehow still soft
  • ... worthy of dreams? you'll need to try to decide!

Bookmark! PIN! Share!

How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If another pancake recipe inspires you, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

Manna Café Oatcakes ♥ Famous oatmeal pancakes from the much-missed restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin.

~ PIN This ~

(Oatmeal Pancakes)

Mixing time: 10 minutes
Rest time: 45 minutes or more
Cooking time: that depends!
Makes about 4 cups batter, enough for 16 medium-size (four-inch) pancakes, recipe easily halves

Plan ahead, the batter needs to rest for 45 minutes (overnight works too).
  • 4 tablespoons (56g) salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups (480g) buttermilk (shake it first!)

  • 1/2 cup (62g) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 cups (180g) rolled oats (aka uncooked oatmeal, but not quick or instant oatmeal)

  • Butter, for the skillet or griddle
  • Butter and maple syrup, for serving

MIX THE BATTER In a microwave-safe bowl that's large enough for all the batter, cut up the butter and if you have it, cover the butter with the butter stick's wrapper, this prevents spraying. Melt the butter in the microwave for 10 or 15 seconds at a time, just until melted.

Use a large fork or spoon to whisk in the sugar, cooling the butter down; check it, make sure the butter-sugar combo is cool enough it won't cook the eggs.

Once the butter-sugar mixture is cool enough, whisk in the eggs and vanilla, mixing until there's no sign of either yolks or whites. Whisk in the buttermilk.

If you like, in a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt (doing this separately ensures even distribution) and mix this into the egg-buttermilk mixture. (If you prefer, you can just measure these four ingredients across the top of the egg-buttermilk mixture, then gently stir them in most of the way. This technique is a dish saver!)

Add the oats and stir in just until all signs of the flour disappears and the oats are evenly distributed.

LET THE BATTER REST Let the batter rest on the counter for 45 minutes, some while more is fine. (If you like, let the batter rest overnight, just refrigerate it.) Cook some bacon! Throw together a fruit salad! Pour a coffee! Read the paper! Call your sister! You know what to do ...

MAKE PANCAKES! Heat a heavy skillet or griddle (my favorite is a cast iron griddle) on medium heat until hot. Give the pancake batter one last stir.

Rub the surface of the griddle with butter, then scoop out scant quarter-cups of batter onto the griddle, shaping the edges a bit with the tip of a spatula if you're particular about appearance. Let the pancakes cook without moving for a couple of minutes, once the edges begin to brown, use a spatula (a metal spatula seems to work best) to lift an edge to check the underside. If it's golden brown or brown, flip it over, again shaping the edges just a bit. Let the underside brown.

Repeat with the remaining batter, rubbing the surface with a bit of butter each time, adjusting the heat down as the skillet or pan gets hotter with multiple batches.

SERVE the pancakes hot, straight from the griddle, topped with a little butter and drizzled with maple syrup.

TIMING TIP The Manna Café cookbook advises that it's okay to rest the pancake batter more than 45 minutes. But don't short on the timing, those 45 minutes are important, allowing time for the oats to hydrate and soften as they soak up moisture.


#1 UNTESTED I think it would work just fine to mix the batter the night before – leaving out the baking powder and baking soda for now – and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight. Then, in the morning, stir in the baking powder and baking soda and get to makin' pancakes!

#2 SUCCESS WITH AN OVERNIGHT REST! I haven't tried this yet but a reader reports that it works great to mix all the batter including the baking powder and baking soda and then refrigerate overnight. After all, this Make-Ahead Bran Muffin Batter lasts for five weeks in the fridge! I see folks raving about oatcakes where the batter is allowed to ferment overnight in the fridge.

LEFTOVERS Leave leftover Oatcakes out on the counter that first day, hmm, they kinda just disappear, one by one! Otherwise, refrigerate leftovers and eat up within a day or two, just microwave briefly to rewarm. Good news, Oatcakes stay moist and don't dry out like regular pancakes.

GO SAVORY? For savory Oatcakes, drop the sugar to 1 tablespoon and omit the vanilla. This is our choice when serving more like a breakfast bread than a sweet pastry. That said, even as written, Oatcakes aren't particularly sweet with 2 tablespoons sugar nor vanilla-y with 1 teaspoon vanilla, so as written, the recipe will satisfy both those who are going to eat the butter-syrup way and those who're going to eat with eggs, sausage and other more savory foods.

FOR MORE INFO If you "skipped straight to the recipe," please scroll back to the top of this page for ingredient information, ingredient substitutions, tips and more. If you print this recipe, you'll want to check the recipe online for even more tips and extra information about ingredient substitutions, best results and more. See .
Adapted from Manna Café and Bakery Cookbook: A Memoir of Two Businesses, a Community and the Food That Connected Them by Barb Pratzel. Sorry, I know we all appreciate the quick orders from Amazon but unless you live in Madison, Little Creek Press is the only place to buy the cookbook. Good news, though, there's a really nice woman who's the publisher! And a heads up. If you order a cookbook, payment is made through PayPal. Before ordering, be sure to check your PayPal account profile to see if the contact and address information is right. Mine was about ten years old, which is how I happen to know about the nice lady!

If You, Too, Have a Thing for Pancakes ...

for even more pancake recipes, just scroll down a bit in
~ breakfast & brunch recipes ~
Make Tonight a Pancake Night ♥ Move over Taco Tuesday and Pizza Friday!
Cornmeal Pancakes with Warm Blueberries ♥, a simple but sumptous combination, special for breakfast or supper.

Lifetime Pancakes ♥, my sister's recipe for light, fluffy pancakes, scaled from a tiny batch for one or two to a large batch for a big family (or hungry teenagers).

Triple-Banana Oat Pancakes ♥, just wholesome oats, banana and egg. Taste and texture just like ordinary pancakes!

Seasonal Pancakes

~ Pumpkin Pancakes ~
~ Carrot Buttermilk Pancakes ~
~ Spinach Pancakes ~
~ more breakfast & brunch recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ oatmeal ~
~ buttermilk recipes ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. I'm wondering if the sugar is necessary to the batter (I know I can omit the vanilla). I would like to take these in a savory direction, I'm thinking of topping them with sauteed or roasted veggies, cheese, and maybe even a fried egg.

  2. Anonymous2/15/2023

    T ~ You're quick! :-) Yes, the sugar is optional though it does contribute to the color. And I love that you're leaning into savory pancakes, we do too especially with eggs. If you do meat, I once made very memorable savory pancakes topped with pulled pork, some pickled onions and a little cotija. WOW. ~Alanna (Silly Google. Makes me comment anonymously on my own site.)

  3. Anonymous2/19/2023

    Would it be possible to omit the sugar and use honey as a sweetener? I have food intolerances and do better with honey

    1. Anonymous ~ Yes, I think so, especially since the amount of sugar is quite small. I hope just a couple of tablespoons adds a nice honey flavor to the pancakes! Let me know how it goes! PS Sorry for the slow reply, I was away from my laptop for the long weekend and had zero success replying on my phone. Dang tech! :-(

  4. Hey Alanna, Have to let you know we tried the Manna oatmeal pancakes. Wow. So good. I actually made them the night before and put them in the fridge. They were perfect. I will try them again and maybe every time! I am going to try the Mexican eggs tomorrow. I have some chilis to use up so will try Diana's.

    1. Sue ~ That's such great news, thank you! I know other readers will appreciate knowing that resting the batter overnight works as much as I do! Thank you for taking the time to let everybody know.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna