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Baking Bannock

Posted by Darren Bush on 4/15/2014 to Cooking

A few years ago (1992 to be exact), a woman who worked with me, Frieda Schroeder, came into the office after running across an article in Outdoor Life on dutch ovens and skillet cooking. She thought I would like it. She was right.


Until then I had been using a bannock recipe that was from Calvin Rustrum and wasn’t all that tasty — it was a chemical bomb using horrendous amounts of baking powder and no shortening, so it was dry and metallic tasting. Ugh.


I took the recipes from the article home and whipped up a few batches of bannock on the stovetop. It was very, very good. What’s better is that the basic recipe is also good for pancakes, fish batter, etc. Think Bisquick or Krust-eze without 10,000% of your daily recommended dosage of sodium. Good luck and have fun.


Basic Bannock Mix


1 cup flour (white or of a mixture of white and whole wheat

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup dry milk powder

1 tbsp. shortening

Make mix at home ahead of time. Sift dry ingredients, and cut shortening in with a pastry cutter or two knives until you have a granular, corn meal-like mixture. Package in zip-lock freezer bags. I like the ones that have the little slider-like thing.


I’ve found that you can make large batches at once and make enough bannock mix for a trip in about fifteen minutes. Just make sure you sift the dry ingredients well so you don’t get leavening problems.


Bannock


1 batch bannock mix

Water (filter it)


Oil your skillet (cast iron works best) and preheat over a campfire. Place the mix in a bowl and add enough water to make the dough hold together. You can also pour water into the bag and squoosh it around in the bag (squooshing is a technical term) and then squeeze it out of the bag into the pan, which has the advantage of not dirtying another bowl, but the disadvantage of losing a perfectly good bag because washing them is a pain in the rear. Because the water and baking powder form carbon dioxide to make the bread light, the faster you go from mixing to skillet, the lighter your bannock will be.


If you have a lid, go ahead and try to cook it like a dutch oven and put coals onto your skillet lid. Otherwise, you can turn it over to cook the top (carefully!) or else when the bottom is done, prop the pan up against a log with the top facing the fire. This is my favorite sort of “semi-reflector-oven” sort of way. I believe it also makes a lighter bannock. Serve with honey (you did bring honey, right?).


Bannock Pancakes


1/4 cup sugar

1 egg (optional but nice)

1 batch bannock mix


Combine all ingredients, whisk just until most of the lumps are gone. Totally lump-free pancakes do not belong in the outdoors, and besides, over mixing makes them very tough. Cook like the rest of the pancakes you’ve ever cooked.


Bannock Batter Fish Fillets


Fish fillets (or chunks if you caught a Northern)

Vegetable Oil

Flour for dredging

Salt and Pepper

1 cup flat beer (whisk with fork to lose carbonation)

1 batch bannock mix


Mix salt, pepper, and flour to taste. Drag the fish fillets (or chunks) through the flour mixture until thoroughly coated. Dip in the bannock batter and fry in preheated vegetable oil (350 degrees works well — hot but not smoking). When pieces are cooked they’ll float.


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