Rickety Uncle (extremely simple oat bars)

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You could try using butter as your fat and wait for the cooked mixture to cool before removing from the tin. Also, maybe a whisked egg WHITE might help but wouldn't change the flavor.
I was given the Rickety Uncle recipe by my aunt, who was closer to my age than to her sister's (who was my mother). I suspect that she got it from my grandmother, who probably got it from the United Farmers of Saskatchewan recipe book of 1940, which you can see here on page 47 (you will probably have to cut and paste):


I think the problem with crumbliness is a function of two things, the ratio of sugar to oats and the kinds of oats. The original recipe has a 2:1 ratio of oats to sugar, but the ones published recently have less sugar. I think the caramelized sugar is what holds the oats together, and so more sugar is helpful. As well, there is a question of which kinds of oats. I personally prefer the large-flake unprocessed oats, for flavor and texture, but it may be that quick oats will hold together better.

I personally have never found the need to use a binder like flower or eggs.


Thanks for showing us that cookbook. I love the fact that they show no temperatures for baking. Use a moderate, hot, warm oven. My mother cooked and baked with a Crawford stove that burned wood and had no thermometer on the door of the oven. I remember her putting her hand in to tell if it was hot enough for baking. To this day I can tell you when the oven reaches 350º F. even though there is not need today. Some of those recipes look real interesting. I saw a lot that have brought a long session of discussion to this forum. Our mothers knew how to cook with everything they had and everything was used. No waste.

Do we have a reference area where we can go to such as this cookbook? It would answer a lot of questions and it should have a place of it own. So often I have seen others like this on this forum that should be listed in a place of reference. :angel:
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Do we have a reference area where we can go to such as this cookbook? It would answer a lot of questions and it should have a place of it own. So often I have seen others like this on this forum that should be listed in a place of reference. :angel:

Under Cooking Resources, there's a subforum for Cookbooks.
I was wondering how I would have to adjust this entire recipe to make a Rickety Aunt out of the Rickety Uncle - by adding chocolate (I know, I know, don't say anything, okay :LOL:).

Ron M in particular sounds as if he understands the chemistry of cooking a lot more than I do. Maybe he can help out. All suggestions are welcome. - Daizy/Dizzy
Rickety Uncles

Warm Greetings,

The suggestion I have for not having your Rickety Uncle's crumble and become granola is to use quick or instant oats. I learned this the hard way as the only time I ever had a problem was when I used the Old Fashioned type.

I grew up with this wonderful dessert and only recently discovered that the name was Rickety Uncles. (always called it Butterscotch Oatmeal Squares).

Here is my recipe I was given in the early 1960's

One cup brown sugar firmly packed
Two cups Quick Oatmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
One teaspoon Baking Powder
One teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 cup of Melted Butter

Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown wait five minutes and then cut into squares. (must do) Sometimes I take part of the Oatmeal and put it in the blender to a fine grind. I notice that most of the recipes for this do not include the vanilla or baking powder. It is the only way I have made them.
Notes on Rickety Uncle

My late aunt Gaylynne gave me this recipe, essentially identical to the one in the 1940s cookbook, which she probably had from her mother, my grandmother. I realize (belatedly) that I've posted about this before, but I've just made it again and have a few notes. Apologies for any repetitiveness. It's all because of corona-virus isolation and a need to cook to fend off boredom!

Lots of people have written about this recipe, expressing problems, e.g. too crumbly, and I think it's a question of ingredients and process. Here are my notes.

- it's best to think of this recipe as candy with embedded oats, rather than as a cake or squares

- the objective is to caramelize the sugar and butter, to a point that they bind the oats but before they burn -- a fine dividing line!

- it is therefore necessary to use the full complement of butter and sugar relative to oats, otherwise you won't get the caramelization; of course, variations are possible in terms of proportion, but not too much; some versions of the recipe had margarine, and I'm sure it would work fine

- there are different kinds of brown sugar, and it makes a difference; where I live, you can get yellow sugar (brilliant yellow sometimes), dark brown sugar, natural brown sugar and demerara sugar. I grew up with the yellow, and it works ok, but I think that the darker grades work better,. Haven't tried demerara in this recipe.

- I've tried different ways of mixing, including melting the butter before combining with the vanilla and sugar, and then adding the oats; I think creaming the butter and sugar and vanilla first works best; I do it by hand, no need to beat in eggs, and a few small lumps of uncreamed butter are inconsequential; melting the butter first works, but for some reason it doesn't seem to produce as good an end result

- after combining the butter/sugar/vanilla, I mix in the oats by hand

- but which kind of oats? I like the flavor of old-fashioned slow-cooking rolled oats, but they are large and sometimes seem to inhibit the binding of the caramelization; I've taken to using an equal combination of old-fashioned and quick-cooking (not instant) oats; I might settle on a ratio with more of the old-fashioned kind; no reason not to use all old-fashioned or quick, if that's what you've got, but the end consistency will vary

- the original recipe said a "hot" oven; I find that too hot will result in browning of the edges in the pan, and prefer 350; for this recipe, with 4 cups of oats,1 cup of butter, 1 tsp vanilla and 2 c of sugar, I cook in a 9x13 pan for about 15 or 20 minutes; monitor closely to make sure it doesn't over-brown at the edges.

- the original recipe had half those quantities in an 8x8 pan, and that works fine.

- I think it's important not to make too thick, e.g. the full 4 cups of oats recipe in an 8x8 pan, which would look more like a cake; caramelization won't happen properly.

- when it's cooked, take out of oven and immediately cut into the kind of units you want; don't use a knife, but rather something like a fine metal spatula blade, pressing down to score the "batter" to the metal of the pan; dragging a knife will distort the squares, leading to crumbling; you need to do this quickly, if properly caramelized it will start to firm up right away

- there are many variations possible, but I don't find any of them improve on the basic
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RonM There is a recipe almost Identical to this, from Maida Heatter's first Book of Great Cookies - Aspen Oatmeal Bars. This one has a tsp of baking powder added, but otherwise, it's the same. And many of the things you noted were the same experiences I have found, when experimenting with it. It bakes well in a 9 x 13 pan, when doubled. The quick oats work better - old fashioned oats result in a cookie that is too crumbly, and does not hold together well. All dark brown sugar (molasses flavor covers up the butterscotch flavor) is not as good as light brown, but half and half is the best! Line the pan with foil or parchment. And I cut them (and many other similar cookies) with an old cleaver I got many years ago, made of bright SS, that simply didn't get sharp! So I've used it for cutting cookies ever since.

Something I am going to try with this recipe is rolled barley, and some palm sugar. I'll post my results.
This is the same basic recipe for a crumble topping for Dutch apple pie, or on top of a crisp, such as peach, or pear crisp, or apple crisp. In the rickety uncle recipe, it is simply baked and served straifht up.

To enhance the flavor, add cinnamon, and/or nutmeg, and a half tsp. salt.

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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