inuit style bannock

All About Bannock and How to Make It

The bannock which I’m familiar with is the North American bread prepared by natives and packed by frontiersmen for it’s ease of carry and cook-ability. Traditionally, this is a simple recipe that can be elevated in the kitchen or around the camp fire. 

There are variations of Native breads that are out there, and even a native cookbook, but this will focus on the most basic of camp foods.

First off, be prepared to be impressive when making bannock around a campfire. Most outdoor enthusiasts wouldn’t dare and try to make bread in the wilderness. Preparing a dough and making bread with limited tools sounds daunting. However, it really isn’t.

Check out these simple campfire meals that fresh bannock would mate beautifully with.

Bannock History

There is controversy around whether or not Bannock originated in Scotland and was passed to the First Nations people of America. Some sources suggest the evidence of North American people harvesting acorns and processing flour far predate contact and trade. With ingredients this simple and being born in the States, I have bias towards the later.

Frontiersmen and explorers by the likes of Daniel Boone and Lewis & Clark considered this hot-cooked bread a staple. It was a welcome relief from hard tack breads of naval origin that lacked perishability and softness.

It makes perfect sense to carry and cook when the ingredients can be premixed, hydrated, and leavened over a campfire.

Basic Ingredients:

  • Flour (3 Cups)
  • Baking Powder (2 tbsp)
  • Salt (1/2 tsp)
  • Water (1 cup)

That’s it. Now, the measurements can be taken literally but one can likely get away with eyeballing the mixture and going to town. Adding berries or honey could turn it into a different, elevated bannock. 

How to Make Bannock

First, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt into a dry mix. Once you feel comfortable with the matrix of ingredients, add water and mix into a dough. The dough should be sticky.

A trick I use is to mix all of the dry ingredients in a gallon sized zip lock bag and throw it into my pack. When ready, I add water to a portion and save the dry ingredients I won’t be consuming.

Cooking Bannock

Are you ready to be impressive? Bannock can be cooked around a campfire in imaginative ways.

I like using my US Military mess kit as an oven. Put the dough in one of these, put the lid on, and add coals to the bottom and top.

us tanker using a mess kit
US Tanker using a Mess Kit that can be used for Baking Bannock

Don’t have a mess kit? Setting it on a rock near a fire would be fine as well. However, a more engaging way to do this would be to allow everyone to find their own stick and wrap some dough around them. This cooking technique would be similar to the way you’d roast a marshmallow.

Bannock on a trusty stick

Wrapping it Up

There are plenty of other imaginative ways of cooking bannock dough.

Try adding oil to the pan to make a fry bread. Frying bannock dough gives the bread an entirely different characteristic than when baked or roasted.

Try adding the dough directly on to hot ashes. This would impart flavors that wouldn’t normally be there. For better or worse, this would be completely preference.

Elevating bannock from savory to sweet is also available. Berries and honey are options for a sweet bread. Alternatively, beans or meats can be added for a more savory option. Try it out and experiment!

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