Bannock (fried bread)

Time: 45 minutes

Music Selection: Pow Wow in Edmonton, Alberta

When I was growing up in Northern Alberta, our school would participate in pow wows. It was always fun to try to dance in a pow wow and to eat some of the delicious bannock. Pemmican was more of an acquired taste, but the bannock was so good. Across Canada you can find various versions of bannock and often called “beavers tails” – at touristy locations they come smothered in nutella, bananas, m&ms, etc. We took our kids one year to Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump for National Aboriginal Day – we learned a few Blackfoot words, heard the drummers, watched the dancing and ate bannock and saskatoon berry soup. Such a great day at a nationally significant (UNESCO) site. If you haven’t been, you should plan a trip.

The History of Bannock The Aboriginal staff of life, Bannock, is common to the diet of virtually all North America’s first peoples. The European version of bannock originated in Scotland and was made traditionally of oatmeal. The bannock of Aboriginal people was made of corn and nut meal, and flour made from ground plant bulbs. There were many regional variations of bannock that included different types of flour, and the addition of dried or fresh fruit. Traditionally, First Nation groups cooked their bannock by various methods. Some rolled the dough in sand then pit-cooked it. When it was done, they brushed the sand off and ate the bread. Some groups baked the bannock in clay or rock ovens. Other groups wrapped the dough around a green, hardwood stick and toasted it over an open fire. Pioneers may have introduced leavened breads to the Aboriginal people. The use of leavened breads spread and adapted from there. Pioneers also introduced cast-iron frying pans that made cooking bannock quicker and easier. Today, bannock is most often deep-fried, pan-fried and oven-baked. Bannock is one of the most popular and widespread native foods served at pow wows, Indian cowboy rodeos, festivals, and family gatherings. (source of information: Aboriginal Tourism – Native Cuisine  –  British Columbia Government)N

Ingredients:

3 cups unbleached flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup milk mixed with

3/4 cup hot water (hot enough so mixed liquid is almost too hot to touch)

1 tbsp oil or shortening

oil or shortening for frying or deep frying (heated to 360°F)

Serve with jams, syrups or eat with stews or soups

Directions:

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir in milk/water mixture and knead briefly with lightly oiled hands until smooth. Rub the remainder of the one tbsp of oil over the dough. Cover and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Pat or roll enough dough to fit in the palm of your hand in a circle about 1/8” thick (at least, a touch thicker is better).

Deep-fry or fry the dough in hot oil or shortening for about one minute per side, or until golden brown. Makes 10-12 pieces.

Serve with: fruit flavored syrup; maple syrup; runny eggs sprinkled with herbs; whipping cream and fresh berries

Fancy option: make bannock like small rounds and use instead of an English muffin for eggs benedict.

Cheat  version: The night before let a loaf of frozen bread or 8 buns rise in a greased pan. In the morning, roll them out into 8 big circles. Let rise for another 15 minutes. Fry in oil.

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