Friday, August 08, 2014

Cooking Bannock: It's Holy Crap I Made Bread, Bread

A few weeks ago, in preparation for the then upcoming camping trip, I did some research into cooking bread on the trail. One common option is to make Bannock. There's quite a few variations out there, which I at first found pretty disconcerting.

But, after a few attempts, I've been pretty amazed at how simple the process can be, and how tasty the result can be.

To start off with, mix up 1 cup flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder. If you're camping, you can mix these ahead of time in a 1 quart zip lock bag, which you can later use as your mixing bowl.

Then, you add in some water and oil. Here's where its get a little fuzzy. The goal is dough type consistency. I've found that adding a 1/3 of cup of water, and some oil (half a teaspoon, maybe?) gets you in the right direction. I then mix that up, and add in some more water to get the dough I'm after. Again, another splash of oil (I've been using olive oil) does the trick.

In the kitchen, you can just add more flour if need be. On the trail, that's a little trickier because you probably don't have any extra flour. On the other hand, you may have some oatmeal from the next day's breakfast you could pilfer to soak up the extra water.

Whatever, don't over think it.

Once the dough is formed, you can cook it as is, or you can mix in some additional goodies. I've tried variations with raisins, honey, almonds, dukkah and even hot dogs. I've yet to find a mixin that doesn't work.

Then, you form the dough into one large'ish loaf, or two small loaves.

You can cook the dough over a fire on a stick or in a frying pan. But the method that's worked best for me is to bake it. I drop the loves onto some aluminum foil that's got a dab of oil on it, and then wrap it all up. At home, I've put it in our toaster oven on 400° for about 30 minutes. While camping, I just dropped the aluminum foil into the coals and left it there for 20 minutes.

For someone who regularly bakes, the results are probably nothing special. But for me, a baking novice, I'm simply blown away by the results. I can't help but think: good golly, I just made bread. Add some jam or butter, and you've got a tasty treat.

There's just so much to love about this recipe: it only requires 4 easily available ingredients, it's non-dairy, it's shelf safe and it can be cooked using almost any heat source (I'll have to throw the aluminum foil on the grill next time we're grilling; but I don't see why it wouldn't cook there, too), and it's easy to experiment with. It's sort of a minimalist recipe but with surprisingly tasty results. It's certainly something you could cook with impatient kids that they could make and customize more or less by themselves.

Here's some photographic proof that I've been trying all this out. Trust me, whether in the back-country or the kitchen, this is a fun recipe to try (unless, you're into baking and cooking, in which case this is probably old news to you).

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