Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bannock: A World Food.

    A few days ago Darlin posted on baking some bannock and she had some awesome pictures of her production. Now I like bannock so her post got me thinking about my experiences with bannock.

     The basics of bannock are flour, water, baking powder and salt. After that, all bets are off. There are literally thousands of bannock recipes.The things that go with your bannock are endless. The history of bannock is very, very old. Unleavened bread is mentioned in the bible and has a place in religious practices. In biblical times , I don't think they could run to the store for some Flieschman's yeast or pick up any Blue Ribbon baking powder either. All cultural groups have some form of bannock. Aboriginals had a form of bannock before the Europeans came. They had certain roots the were ground up to make something similar to flour. 

    Baking powder biscuits are a form of bannock and they are baked in the oven. Many bannock recipes can be baked. My Mom furiously baked some baking powder biscuits when she was caught without bread and someone was coming to visit.

    Now to get to my experience with bannock. I was exposed to bannock when I spent 5 years in the Arctic.  The Inuit and Indians used bannock on a regular daily basis in their homes but their experience with bannock was really when they were out in the country. They would take a small bag of flour and baking powder with them and they were set. To make a bannock they usually made a small depression in the flour at the top of the bag. They poured in some water and mixed the flour and water by hand. The dough produced this way was flattened and put into a frying pan with lots of lard. It didn't take long and you had fresh hot bannock. If you had any meat then your meal was complete. For many travelers they started out from home with a bag of bannock. Bannock is very dry so it doesn't freeze. The first time I went out I took my bread sandwich. Guess what? When it came time to eat my  sandwich, it was frozen as hard a steel. It was embarrassing. Someone had to give me some lunch.  Getting back to the flour was sometimes a ghastly mess by the end of the trip.

    I still remember the great taste of bannock. I still remember all the things I put on my bannock...mostly jams and syrup. 

    It's hard to believe that bannock is rarely made since it is such a simple process. It has great taste and leaves a pleasant aroma in your house.