Bannocks have owned their central spot on the traditional Scottish table for millennia – plain bannocks spread with butter and cheese for lunch, or sweetened for special occasions like the fruity, leavened Selkirk bannock. The two are different feasts with roots in the same place – the rounded, quick to knock up, girdle-cooked beremeal bannock, for which every household would have had their own much loved recipe.
A bit like a scone, a bit like soda bread, they’re ideal for camping as you just need a heavy bottomed frying pan to cook on. Bere is an ancient strain of barley (really ancient, grown since 2000BC) that thrives in the unfertile lands of the far north of Scotland. Now it is really only available from mills on Orkney, like Barony Mills where mine came from – you can buy it online here.
As a beremeal bannock would have been the bread of choice for lunches across Scotland for thousands of years, this recipe is inspired by today’s ‘packed lunch’ theme as part of Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight 2017. This year they’re encouraging people to make one change to their shopping baskets, choosing Scottish produce to support our farmers and food producers. This is my first bag of beremeal flour, so that will be my One Thing to join other wonderful Scottish ingredients including Mungoswells flour, Hoods honey and fresh-from-the-briar blackberries.
These are splendid halved, lightly toasted then spread with honey and topped with cheese and apple. I can confirm from eating exactly that as I type that it knocks plastic-wrapped sandwiches off the lunch menu.
Makes 8 bannocks
I’ve used cups and spoons not in the American sense, but as literal cup measurements as this will be more useful on a camp-site. The exact proportions are less important than the consistency of the final batter.
2 cups beremeal flour (about 200g)
1 cup plain flour
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon butter
A big handful of blackberries (or other berries, or dried fruit)
1 scant teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, or 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 big tablespoon honey
1 big tablespoon of natural yoghurt
1 cup milk, maybe a splash more
- Mix together the flours, salt and bicarb of soda / baking powder.
- Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips.
- Set a frying pan to heat up – traditionally this is left dry, but I think it works well here with a knob of butter and a little oil to grease.
- Stir the honey into the yoghurt and then mix them into the flour, then pour in the cup of milk and the blackberries. Stir well – it should be a very soft, spoonable dough. Add a splash more milk if needed.
- Drop big spoonfuls of the mixture into the hot frying pan, gently shaping into a round patty about 1 inch thick.
- Cook for around five minutes on each side, then leave to rest for five more minutes.