Thursday, 8 March 2012

Hermitcraft: Oat Bannocks

I often see in my blog stats that people have landed on my hermit bread (Canadian bannock) recipe while searching for information on Scottish bannock (or "bannocks", as we say; plural). This chagrins me, because hermit bread is nothing like "real" bannock, though a blessing in its own right, and the actual article is as fit to feed an honest man as any sad soft white thing in this wheat-weakened world. In a word, it's a crisp oat flatbread, having no wheat in it whatever. And as Boswell famously pointed out to Johnson, oats build a fine horse.

Therefore, to correct an injustice and educate the uncultured, I provide here-in the key to proper eating.

Oat Bannocks

1 cup rolled oats
More oatmeal for rolling
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon melted butter
Hot water

Set a rack six inches from the top of the oven and dial up 350 degrees.*

Pulverise the cup of oatmeal, with a blender or by rubbing it between your hands, and dump it into a small mixing bowl. Mix in the baking powder and salt.

Add the melted butter and toss well with a fork until it's absorbed and evenly distributed.

Sprinkle a baking sheet liberally with oatmeal.

Slosh a tablespoon or two of hot water into the bowl and mix well. Continue adding hot water a teaspoon at a time until you can press the dough into a ball. It should be slightly sticky, but not goopy. (Bannock dough dries very quickly. If it's a little too wet, let it sit until it reaches the right consistency, normally a minute or two.)

Turn the dough onto the oatmeal-strewn baking sheet. Working fast (see above), roll it around until it's covered with oats. Then shake the baking sheet to redistribute the oats that are left and roll out the dough over them, into a round about the size of a dinner plate and no thicker than 1/8 inch. Start with the palm of your hand, then your fingertips, and finally a lidded jar or other small-enough round thing. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle more oats on it.

Shake the free oats
That's home-made bramble jam.
from around the sides and dump them back into the oatmeal jar. Then mark the round into eight pieces. (Everything in Scotland is marked in eight pieces. I've no idea why. Scones are marked in eight pieces. Shortbread is marked in eight pieces. Teacakes are marked in eight pieces. I'll lay you odds that Sawney Bean's lot marked their victims in eight pieces.)

Bake the bannock until the edges have turned up from the baking sheet and browned, 15-25 minutes. (This varies from oven to oven, and possibly place to place.) When done, turn off the oven and open the door, leaving the bannocks inside to crisp for ten minutes.

Serve hot (best) or cold (still brilliant).

*Before ovens were commonplace, bannocks were typically fried on a griddle, as indeed some still are.

Bannocks can be topped with anything, sweet or savoury, including fruit, custard, marmalade, cheese, kippers, and potted meat. Or plain old butter. Bramble jam, traditional confection of the Scottish working class, makes a tea fit for God's own Elect. For a decadent treat, dollop whipped or clotted cream on chilled fruit and crush a bannock over the top.

Oat bannocks are a primordial, fundamental food, having in common with most poor-man's fare that they're cheap, easy, and infinitely more delicious and sustaining than any posh gob. They're one of my favourite comfort foods, easily prepared, and I've heard no complaints from guests, either.

So there you have it, Scottish bannock searchers: the real deal.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...