Campfire Bannock

Bannock is another one of those old favourites with everybody—at least the eating part.

Making it is really simple, but it impresses everyone in camp when you do it for them. Even plain it is a real stick-to-your-ribs treat, but adding some pretty commonplace flavour enhancers makes your new reputation as a pastry chef.

Bannock can be baked on a greased cookie sheet, cooked as a loaf like bread, fried in lard (or oil), or wrapped around a stick over the coals. It can be done as one big slab the size of your fry-pan, roll size or like Timbits. Take your pick, as they will all please the crowd.

Basic bannock is simply three cups all-purpose flour, one teaspoon table salt, two teaspoons baking powder and enough water added slowly to make a sticky batter that your spoon will stand up in.

Be careful with the water, as it should not flow like pancake batter, or you’ll just get bannock pancakes and no rave reviews.

The batter should need a separate spoon to scrape it off the mixing spoon into the hot lard. If the spoonsful appear too thick, just dip the spatula in the hot oil and massage the batter down to about one inch thick.

Keep an eye on it and when it is golden on the hot side, carefully flip over using another spoon or the flat of a knife along with the spatula. The hot lard can easily burn you, so be gentle with the turn-over to cook the other side.

I usually turn them once or twice more to be sure to cook through the doughy centre. You will have to experiment with the lard/oil temperature as too hot can get the outside done while the inside is not yet done.

Keep the fire fairly hot but not raging, or use a “keyhole” fire and drag some coals out to the front of the fire to cook on.

To add flavour, mix into the batter dried or fresh blueberries or cranberries. Raisins are always a good choice.

Cinnamon powder added and only mixed slightly will give you eye-appealing swirls in the bannock.

You can also add skim milk powder to the basic mix and/or add bran, wheat germ or brown sugar.

Bannock bread is a very simple recipe that bakes up into a heavy bread about the size of a banana bread loaf. The standard mix is:

• 6 cups flour

• 5 tsps baking powder

• 3 tsps salt

• 1/2 cup of brown or white sugar

• 4 cups water

• 2 eggs

• 1/2 cup powdered milk, (raisins also if you wish)

Just mix all the dry stuff together by hand, then mix in the water until suitable consistency is reached. Spoon it into bread pans until half full, sprinkle brown sugar and some granola on top.

Bake at 350F for 1-1/2 or 1-3/4 hours.

Delicious hot from the oven with lots of jam, or reheat in the microwave or in a damp paper bag near a fire.

Make 4-6 loaves at a time, wrap well and freeze for future use.

Whatever style of bannock you make, keep it in a paper bag if no refrigeration is available. Plastic bags get condensation on the inside and make any bread soggy and mouldy.

If no paper bag is available, wrap it in a towel or shirt, but don’t worry—it won’t last long enough to dry out or mould.

Made over the breakfast fire, bannock with raisins, blueberries or cranberries will make a great lunch with coffee, tea, beer, cheese and sausage—or just by itself.

Bon appétit!

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