Bannock. It is one of those foods that bring back happy memories of my childhood days at summer camp, when I was first introduced to cooking over an open fire. It makes me smile when I remember how proud I felt after making the dough, cooking it myself and eating it piping hot, slathered in jam.
Now, as an adult, I still feel so alive when I get outside and cook over an open fire. There is something so satisfying with having to coax a fire alive, listening to the sizzle of things cooking (or burning!) and the smell of smoke. Everything tastes better when it smells like wood fire smoke.
The other day, I introduced my kids to the wonder of the bread they can cook on a stick- bannock. Now some people know what I am talking about, and they have their own memories of cooking it over a fire. And others may wonder “what the heck is Bannock?” So here is a quick explanation of what bannock is. And if you already know, and your mouth has been watering just thinking about bannock, read to the end and I will share my recipe with you!
Bannock is a very diverse food that refers to a leavened or unleavened bread that can be baked or fried, made from a flour of some kind. That narrows it down, eh? In different countries it can be known as soda bread, scones, biscuits or flatbread.
But the bannock I know and am sharing with you today has been embraced in the First Nations, Inuit and Metis heritage.
This bannock in generally made from wheat flour, with baking powder added as a leavening agent, and salt, lard and water (or milk). Then it is cooked in oil or rendered fat (or without) in a pan over the fire, or cooked on a stick over the fire.
Both ways are delicious, but I am going to share with you my favorite way—on a stick, over an open fire. I like the stick method of cooking for several reasons:
1. I can make it without a pan. I don’t need to pack a pan, or clean it after!
2. There is very little mess. There is no splattering oil, or oil catching on fire.
3. It is healthier. Since it is essentially not deep-fried, it is a healthier option.
4. The kids can help cook it. Even the young kids can stand back from the fire and cook their own meal on their very own stick.
So, now to the recipe. I usually triple the recipe for our family.
1 Cup Flour (white or whole wheat or a mixture of both)
1 tsp Baking Powder
¼ tsp salt
1 Tbsp oil, butter or lard
Water (about 1/4 cup)
Note: (you can add many things to the basic dough if you like. Cinnamon and sugar, Italian seasonings, shredded cheese, or be creative!)
1. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
2. Mix in the oil or butter by hand until it is crumbly. Start adding water and mix.
3. Continue to slowly add water and mix until your dough is fully mixed but not sticky. Give it a few kneads and let sit for a few minutes. (I added some shredded cheddar cheese to this batch in the pictures)
At this time you need to find a stick. Find a stick about 3 fingers wide and a couple feet long at least. Strip off the bark with a knife and singe the stick in the fire to ‘clean’ it. Now, take your dough and roll it into a snake shape and wrap it around the stick.
Start at one end of the stick and coil it around, working your way up the stick. Making sure to tuck the ends in so it doesn’t unravel when you cook it.
Hold your stick of bannock over hot coals and turn till it gets brown.
Don’t cook too fast, because you don’t want the outside to burn and the inside to still be doughy! When the bannock is golden brown (or even a bit burnt), very carefully (it will be very HOT!) take the bannock off the stick. Break it off in chunks or try to slide the stick out.
Spread with butter, jam, or honey. Eat with cheese and meat. Dip in a stew. Or just eat it plain. (it is still delicious!) Throw your stick in the fire or save for another time.