Bannock: Delicious and Nutritious
There is no denying bannock is a favourite food for portage breaks and fireside campsites, with few ingredients that go a long way. Here at Ontario's Sunset Country, we have rated each recipe by the ease of cooking, transportation while on the trail, and—of course—flavour!
Bannock has a long history in these parts; many say it was originally brought to the area by Scottish explorers and traders. Over the years, given how easy it was to make—especially on the go during hunting season—and how long it could last without spoiling, it became a staple to many Indigenous communities. There have since been many adaptations of the early recipes, which vary from region to region, between cultures and families. Bannock doesn't have to be made in the backcountry, but it will taste better there. Now you just need to decide if you want traditional, sweet, or savoury—or do you? There's no reason not to make all three...
Tried and true, we don't really need to test this bannock recipe, but because we enjoy bannock so much, we will. In the end, we've added a few tips on how you can spruce up the recipe by using your foraging skills.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups water or milk
- Add flour, salt, and baking powder to a large bowl. Stir to mix. Pour melted butter and water over the flour mixture. Stir with a fork to make a ball.
- Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface-small cutting board and knead gently about 10 times. Pat into a flat circle 3/4-1" thick.
- Cook in a greased frying pan over medium heat allowing about 15 minutes for each side. Use two lifters for easy turning. May also be baked on a greased baking sheet at 350° F for 25 to 30 minutes.
Spruce up this recipe by foraging for extra ingredients. Depending on the season, you can add blueberries, raspberries, wild leeks, morels, or even wintergreen mint leaves minced well.
Our Backcountry Rating: 4/5 stars
Simple and effective—plus, the added ingredients being foraged save you weight and room with packing!
For the sweet-toothed sugar hound in your camping crew, we give you, bannock bites! How are they better than doughnuts? Everything is better when made over a campfire. Fry these morsels up after you've cooked your dinner when the coals are perfect. When you're done, add wood to your fire and enjoy these tasty treats!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp of lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 lbs butter or lard
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 pinch of salt
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pour in milk and vanilla. Using a fork, stir together to form a soft, slightly sticky dough while adding extra flour as needed—only 1 tbsp at a time to make the dough come together.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface, and knead gently once or twice into a ball; using floured hands press the dough into a 1-inch thick rough square. With a chef's knife, cut dough lengthwise and crosswise into 1-inch pieces. With floured hands, roll squares into balls.
- In a cast iron skillet melt butter or lard (we used butter ourselves) just below medium heat until ripples are visible in the hot fat.
- Working in batches, fry the dough balls turning once until puffed, golden and a fork inserted in the dough comes out clean—roughly 8 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the bannock bites to a paper towel-lined plate to drain for 2 minutes—or spruce branches in the wilderness, being mindful of where the grease is dripping, so not to attract critters.
- In a large bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add freshly fried bannock to the mixture and toss to coat before serving.
Our Backcountry Rating: 3/5 stars
We docked points simply due to added ingredients making the backcountry trek more difficult and the preparations needing more equipment, such as cutting boards and special spoons. However, if you're lugging in a cast iron skillet, do you really mind bringing cutting boards and spoons?
Say cheese! You've had sweet, now here's your savoury! This may be the trickiest of bannock recipe ingredients to bring into the backcountry, as cheese doesn't travel well during warm months. Our solution? Bake it the first evening you arrive!
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup grated sharp cheddar
- Brush Skillet with 1 tsp melted butter.
- Stir flour with baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Stir the butter with water in a small bowl, then stir into the flour mixture until it comes together. The dough will be a bit sticky.
- Transfer to prepared skillet. Spread dough to edges and pat down. Sprinkle with cheddar and pat gently so the cheese sticks to the dough.
- Bake in the center of controlled heat until golden brown, use a sharp knife or fork to insert in the dough center to see if it comes out clean. Roughly 35 to 40 minutes in an oven, but likely sooner over a fire. Keep the bannock in the skillet and cut it into wedges.
Our Backcountry Rating: 4/5 stars
Let's be honest, who doesn't like enjoying cheesy goodness in the backcountry? Remix this recipe by adding toppings and sauce, a bannock pizza is that little bit of extra comfort food you needed!
Bannock is delicious, easy, and enjoyed by most. It's the perfect side dish, sauce dipper, peanut butter spreader, and snack. When bannock is a part of the campfire menu, few will complain!