Inside Bannock Flat Bread
The other day I was watching a video on making bannock bread and I thought that I would share some interesting facts, cooking methods, recipes and a few ideas on how to prepare it. I hope you find this information useful…
What is Bannock?
Modern bannock is simply a type of flatbread, quick bread or Indian fry bread that is baked or cooked in a pot, pan or griddle and cut into wedges often called scones, though I have heard that it is unlucky to cut bannock and that it should be broken instead.
Many scholars believe that bannock originated in Ireland, Scotland and Northern England. However, a type of bannock known as Indian bread thought to have been part of indigenous North American cuisine that could possibly predate contact with outsiders.
Traditionally, bannock was made into a round cake, formed and baked in a round pan or on a wood plank over an open fire. However, there are also methods of baking bannock over an open fire from the end of a long debarked stick. Later in this article, we’ll discuss a few of these methods in more detail.
Many backpackers and campers tend to premake portions of wet and dry bannock mixes and store them in ziplock baggies ready to go. However, if you have access to a vacuum sealer, there are a lot more options available to you.
How to make it…
The base ingredients found in most modern forms of bannock breads are flour (white or wheat), baking powder, salt, lard and water. Most recipes also include a generous portion of powdered milk to lighten up the mixture and give the bread a light, fluffy consistency. Some recipes even call for powdered egg which has the opposite effect, giving the bread a heavier density.
- 1 cup flour (can be all-purpose, wheat, unbleached
- 1 teaspoon powdered milk
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lard, shortening or bacon grease
- 1/2 cup cold water
- Vegetable oil for frying
Bannock bread can be be made sweet or savory depending on your taste with a host of optional ingredients. To sweeten up a recipe, you can add ingredients like sugar, brown sugar, powdered chocolate or flavored coffee, chopped nuts, and even different kinds of fruits and berries. It doesn’t even matter if they are fresh or dried like raisins and dried cranberries. You can also add jams and other preserves to top it with before serving it.
I prefer savory over sweet so when I make it, I like to add ingredients like cheddar cheese and sliced jalapeno peppers for some heat. Sometimes I like to add meats like seasoned ground beef, ground sausage and crumbled bacon when I want to take my bannock bread to the next level. If you are on the trail, simply bring some freeze dried meat and cheese along, reconstituting them as necessary right before adding them to the bread mixture, or save them for later as a topping.
1. In a medium bowl, whisk all of the dry ingredients together thoroughly including any of the optional ingredients like powdered milk and sugar. (This mix can be made in advance and kept in a ziploc or vacuum-sealed bag, or other airtight container for later use.)
2. Next, add in the lard, continually mixing until there are no more lumps. (If you will be using the mix within a few short days, many people add the lard prior to sealing up the mix or skipping the lard altogether.)
3. Slowly pour in the water while stirring, until the dough begins to firm. You may not need to use all of the water. If you are cooking the bannock on the end of a stick, you will need a firmer consistency.
4. Mix the dough by hand for a minute or two, but do not knead it unless you want it to become dense. If it is too thin to mix by hand, you can just mix it in the bag.
5. Divide and flatten the dough into small round discs. The thinner they are, the faster they will cook.
6. Cook the bannock bread, one of several different ways:
a. Fry in a greased skillet over medium heat, turning once, until is is cooked thoroughly.
b. Bake over low heat, turning once, until is is cooked thoroughly. You can also tip the skillet to face the heat once the bread has firmed enough to do so.
c. Bake over low heat using a stick. Roll the dough around the end of a stick no thicker than 1-1/2″ in diameter and place over heat keeping the flame at least 18″ away, turning once, until is is cooked thoroughly.
d. Bake on a rock or plank set near the fire, turning once, until is is cooked thoroughly.
e. Bake directly in the ashes of the fire. This is also known as an ashcake.
As you can see, there are many ways to cook bannock flat bread, and even more recipe variations to experiment with. But I’ll leave you with a word of advice, try your recipe out long before you head out on the trail. You’ll likely be glad you did so. It is amazing how the combination of certain ingredients and cooking methods can have such an undesirable effect.