I’ve declared every Friday in the summer Firepit Friday! My boys, who love any excuse to build a fire, are happy to comply.
We’re starting with one of the easiest things to make over an open fire: bannock bread. The word bannock is of English/Scottish origin, and comes from the Latin word for baked dough. Traditional Scottish bread is round and flat. Cut up pizza-like, it is referred to as a scone.
Bannock bread in the United States is a little different. It originated with the Native Americans, and is interchangeable with frybread. It was a staple diet of frontiersman and offered a welcome relief from hardtack. It can be fried up in a pan with a little oil, but the best and easiest way for a boy to cook it is over an open fire.
All the ingredients can be mixed in a single bowl or even a Ziploc bag. If you’re camping, the dry ingredients can be combined ahead of time, with the fat and oil added just before cooking.
There are several variations on this recipe. The key is to have a leavening agent such as baking powder or sourdough starter, combined with some sort of fat: butter, oil, or lard. The amount of water added will vary according to the climate and humidity.
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. sugar
- 3 Tbsp. lard, bacon grease, butter or canola oil
- 1 cup cold water (you may not use it all)
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add in the oil or butter and mix until crumbly. Little by little, add the water and stir until dough is thick and evenly pliable, but not too sticky. Some recipes recommend letting the dough sit and rise for a bit, but if you’ve got hungry campers, you’ll be fine diving right into the cooking.
Bannock cooks best over hot, hot coals. Once they start to cool the bread won’t cook. We found wrapping the dough around a sharpened stick to be the most effective. It also worked well on a two-pronged roaster where the prongs were close together so the dough couldn’t slide off.
Cooking bannock just right takes a little skill and a healthy dose of patience. Cook it too fast and you end up with a doughy center. If the dough is too moist, it sags and slides off the stick. It may take a few times to get the technique right, but that's part of the fun.
Because of the salty taste of the baking powder, bannock pairs well with a sweet topping like honey or jam. We dipped ours in melted butter and cinnamon/sugar. And then went back for seconds and thirds.