Bannock 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
with the permission of the
author. Copyright Terry Garvin 1992-2002.