Bannocks- For When You’ve Got To Hit The Trail Hard

     As she was running out the door for work Monday morning, Emily made a request:

“Hun, think you could make some bannocks that I can grab for breakfast? No raisins or anything- just plain is fine.”

“Yes, dear.”

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As my father would say, “Those two words are the secret to a happy marriage.”

     Jokes aside, I didn’t mind. Bannocks are one of my staple recipes for a reason. They are a perfect blend of oatmeal cookie and biscuit that can be grabbed quickly, keep for a long time, and are an ideal breakfast with a quick schmeer of butter or jam.
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If you don’t know what “schmeer” is, you need to be roughly 15% more Jewish.

     Bannocks have been around for centuries, a catch-all description being, “Bannock is a variety of flat quick bread or any large, round article baked or cooked from grain.”
     The ones I make are at least partially inspired by the smaller, dry, trail ration variant that was popular among settlers and explorers alike for their easily portable ingredients, ease in making over a campfire, long shelf-life, and the fact that these little pucks of carbs had a tendency to blow up in your stomach after you drank some water, and thereby helped you feel full for quite a while. There was even a simple recipe that Lord Baden-Powell included in the first few editions of “Scouting for Boys“- the original Boy Scout Handbook.

     It may seem like all of that is utterly irrelevant to you, but stick with me here.

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The closest most of us have come to hitting the dusty trail…

     No, most of us don’t have to worry about hitting the trail for weeks at a time. What we DO have to worry about is energy and getting a decent breakfast in the morning. Getting a good breakfast in the morning (and in my experience, within one hour of waking up) primes your metabolism. It reminds your body that food is plentiful and it doesn’t need to go into “starvation mode,” where the metabolism slows down because your body thinks it needs to hoard energy. By eating something nice and carb-heavy like these bannocks, your metabolism is primed AND you get some quick energy for the morning!

So here we go. You’re really not going to need any special equipment except for:

  • a mixing bowl
  • a wooden spoon if you don’t like getting your hards TOO dirty
  • a rolling pin
  • a cutting implement, either a pizza cutter or a round cookie cutter about 2.5″ diameter.

Pre-heat your oven to 450 F (232 C), and get your ingredients together.

What I’ve got here are:

  • 3 cups of All-Purpose Flour (I prefer King Arthur unbleached, but use what you’ve got.)
  • 2 cups of Old-Fashioned Oats (like Quaker)
  • 4 tbs of dark brown sugar (you can easily switch the sugar around for others. I’ve had great success switching half the brown sugar out for 2 tbs honey or maple syrup.)
  • 2 tbs double-acting baking powder (I use Clabber Girl, but whatever you’ve got.)
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 1 (4 oz.) stick of unsalted butter, room temperature so it’s pretty soft.
  • My spice blend of about 2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp each of allspice and nutmeg.
  • 1 c unsweetened almond milk. You can totally use regular milk if you want, I just happen to like almond milk.

I’ll put the whole recipe in a more concise form, complete with yield, down at the bottom of the entry, along with approximate nutrition info.

You’re going to start by taking all your dry ingredients….
… and mixing them together.
     You want it really well mixed so that there aren’t any clumps of brown sugar.

​     Next, you drop in the butter and work it in completely. Once again, you aren’t looking for clumps. This isn’t pie dough.

Your goal is for the butter to be COMPLETELY worked in. At this point, the mix should look a lot like bread crumbs.
Now it’s time for the milk. You may need a little more or less than the cup you have- you want to make a stiff dough, but your don’t want any flour or dry stuff left over. Add the milk, and stir with a wooden spoon until it feels too stiff to stir- then go in there and knead it by hand.

There we go.

Now, it’s time to get rolling!

Sprinkle some extra flour on a clean surface, set your dough on it, and roll it out to a big sheet about 1/3″ thick.

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You may want to sprinkle a LITTLE flour directly on to your dough to make sure your rolling pin doesn’t stick.

There we go! Remember, you want it to be about 1/3″ thick.

Now here’s where you can make a choice. Traditionally, you’d use a cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out as many piece as your could, then re-roll the scraps and go again. For simplicity’s sake, however, today I’ve rolled it into a rough square and I’m just going to cut square pieces.

Take each piece and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet about an inch apart. You can use parchment paper if you want, but they’ll be fine either way.
Oh yeah…. that’s the stuff. Now you’ve got a quick and tasty breakfast for when you need to get out the door!

I’m happy.
Emily’s gonna be happy.
I think you’ll be pretty happy too.

As promised, here’s the actual recipe:

Scottish Bannocks

Yield: 16 Bannocks
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 c All Purpose Flour
  • 2 c old-fashioned oats
  • 1 (4 oz.) stick butter, room temp
  • 4 tbs brown sugar (or 2 tbs brown sugar, 2 tbs honey/maple syrup)
  • 2 tbs baking powder
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 1 c almond milk, more or less.
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl well.
  3. Work in butter completely. No lumps- it should look like bread crumbs.
  4. Stir in enough milk to make a stiff dough. Knead by hand when it becomes too tough to stir.
  5. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a large square 1/3″ thick. Using a pizza cutter, cut into 16 pieces.
  6. Space bannocks 1″ apart on ungreased cookie sheets, and bake for around 15 minutes, or they are light brown.
  7. Remove to racks to cool.

     After plugging this recipe into MyFitnessPal, here’s the nutritional information for each bannock. Be aware, this is for the all brown sugar, almond milk version I did here. If you change the sugars, or use regular milk instead of almond, the actual nutritional content will obviously be different.

Enjoy, and happy baking!


Stay Classy,