How To Make Bannock Bread
Bannock bread, one staple recipe no self respecting outdoorsman/survivalist/prepper can live without. I hate to call this a recipe post, as the bannock recipes are as numerous as flame wars over the best rifle for TEOTWAWKI.
Basically, bannock is a quick bread – it can be applied to any flat roundish food made out of grain. – Scones are wedges cut from bannock. The origin of the term comes from Roman soldiers. Panicium is Latin for “baked dough” soldiers being soldiers shortened it to pannis – over the years panic or panis which got bastardized to bannock over the years.
When the Scots immigrated to America, an began work in the fur trade they introduced bannock to Native Americans who quickly adopted bannock as fry bread. This adoption leads to using acorn flour to replace or stretch the use of wheat flour in bannock recipes.
Our “recipe” uses flour, a little acorn flour, shortening, salt and baking soda. Some us oil instead of shortning, or add eggs, nuts, or berries. Bannock can be wrapped around a stick and roasted over coals, cooked on a hot rock, directly on clean coals, but I prefer a cast iron skillet over my stove.
Backpackers often mix the dry ingredients and shortening and carry it in plastic bags like bisquick (which is basically is) Then they can just add water at their campsite and have homemade food easily, cheaply, and most importantly lightweight.
Basic Bannock Mix
1 cup flour (white or a mixture of white and whole wheat)
1 tsp. baking powder (don’t add too much baking powder unless you like the taste of aluminum)
1/4 tsp. salt
1. Oil a cast iron skillet (a Dutch oven will work, so will a griddle)
2. Mix the mix with water. If you have your mix in a plastic bag, you can simply pour water in the bag and mix it by kneading the bag. I do not have a measurement for the water because it depends on a lot, like you taste, the humidity, and the direction of the sun in correlation to the clouds. Basically you don’t want a dough (unless your wrapping around a stick). You don’t want it think like pancakes, unless that’s your thing. It should be like muffin batter or spackle. Just remember, you can add more water easier than you can take water away.
3. Dump the mix into your pan (it should be hot, but not scalding – the oil should not be smoking).
4. Eventually, you will need to flip your loaf – wait until it begins to look cooked – it’s a subjective thing like cooking pancakes, you will just have to develop a feel for it.
This is a pretty simple food item to make, so easy that it is a staple Boy Scout camp recipe; however, until you get the hang of cooking over a fire, your first couple may be burnt or gooey on the inside.
When I was a little boy my mama would send me off to Grandma Marshall and Grandpa Jim to spend summers in Arkansas. It was a great place for a young boy from Southern California to spend 3 months – in the South. I remember thunderstorms on a hot summer’s afternoon, beating down on the old, tin roof and cooling things off just a bit until the sun came back out. Boy, then it got muggy! I ran around the yard at dusk catching fireflies in an old Mason jar Grandma Marshall gave me, and it’d light up the table by my bed until I was fast asleep. I recollect laying near the pile of potatoes in the cool, old root cellar out back when it was too hot to play outside. I think of all those fruits and pits I scraped off my shoes from that gigantic tree that dropped apricots so thick we couldn’t help but mush ‘em under our feet. But the thing I remember most about staying with Grandma and Grandpa was the sweet odor of burning hickory in the old wood stove before the sun ever popped over the hills or a rooster even made a peep. And biscuits cooking. Mmmmm, biscuits. I couldn’t stay asleep from the smell of those biscuits baking in that oven if I tried. I’d get up and run into the kitchen where Grandma Marshall was standing under that lone, light-bulb hanging down from the ceiling on a wire. Jumping up in a chair, I’d watch her roll those biscuits on that floured breadboard and cut them out with an old drinking glass; I grew up to learn later that was the jar that Grandpa’s snuff came in. But she had a whole matching set. Grandma loved to make breads. Corn pone, Johnny cakes, hush puppies, monkey bread, hardtack, fry bread, soda bread and (yum) shortening bread. And every one of them came with a story about where she got the recipe or how that bread came to be. She’d tell me about war bread and depression cakes. How hardtack got its name and about her mama baking Civil War tooth dullers. And she’d sing me an old folk song: “Mammy’s little baby love short’nin’, short’nin’, Mammy’s little baby love short’nin’ bread. Put on de skillet, put on de led, Mammy’s gonna make a little short’nin’ bread.” - E. C. Perrow, 1915 So that’s what Southern Historical Bread Recipes – 300 Years of Delicious Bread Making is about. Making breads and pastries, the recipes and some of the stories that go along with it. Bread making is meant to be fun and a time for everyone to gather around the old kitchen table and laugh, sing and tell stories while Mama rolls out the dough. We lose some of our stories and songs over time, so this is a chance to keep some of our centuries old traditions, stories and recipes alive. So come on in. Sing, laugh, tell stories and taste some good, old-fashioned, Southern breads of all kinds.