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1899 and After



BannockBannock is an ancient, universal, flat cake made of oatmeal or barley flour, usually unleavened - that is, without anything to make it rise, making it fluffy and delicate. In the Canadian version of bannock, it is a flat, round cake made of unleavened flour, salt and water. Baking powder is sometimes added to make it lighter.

A method of preparing bannock in the field is to wrap the dough around a green willow stick and cook it over an open camp fire. Water is added to a dry mixture of flour and salt to bring it to the consistency of dough, after which it is formed into tube-like loaves 300 mm long and 25 mm thick. To do this the dough is spiraled firmly onto the end of a thick green willow branch 1.5 m long and 25 mm think from which the bark was removed. The other end of the long stick is pointed and driven into the ground far enough away from the fire so as not to be burned. The stick is propped up over a log or rock so that the end rotated to cook the bannock on all sides. Then, the cooked bannock is pulled off the stick and eaten as is, or the cavity left by the stick may be filled with fruit, jam or other food. Wild berries are a favorite filling Two pieces of bannock may be cooked at the same time using the 'Y' of a willow branch. Preparation is quick and clean, and the supplies are easily prepared in advance. Supplies for several servings are relatively light and easy to pack for traveling.

Bannock can also be cooked as a large hunk of dough formed to fit the frying pan. Typically, it is a flat bread 50 mm deep, which is either cut into pieces, or pieces are broken off as needed. Such a piece can be split and filled or covered with jam, wild berries or lard. This is the most popular way to make, cook and serve bannock in the field. It is also the way it is served at a social gathering of close friends.

Bannock, along with tea, has at times been the only food at special celebrations, for example, at a wedding. It is served symbolically to represent native culture at special cultural events in which both native and non-native people take part.

Reprinted from Bush Land People with the permission of the author. Copyright Terry Garvin 1992-2002.

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