The winter camper keen on survival is keen on gear: sleeping bag, long johns, wool socks, pocketknife, flashlight, fleece, parka, warm gloves, big boots. Also bannock, which is bread mix. Add water, stir with a stick, and the camper is prepared to produce any type of bread — pancake to pate en croute.
Bannock can be pressed into pizza, pita, biscuit, bun, fritter, fruitcake, potpie or boule. Wrapped around a twig and propped over the flames, the sticky dough chars into curly quick bread. Bannock can probably pitch a tent, light a fire and scare off wolves.
If you've never heard of the rustic staple, it likely is because a) you don't camp, or b) you're vague on Canada. Bannock is strictly a north-of-the-border phenom. Bannock traces its roots to scone-toting Scottish explorers, who inspired fry-bread-crisping locals, yielding the low, gritty cake with the can-do attitude.
It's also easy, crisping up over the fire — or, for the armchair camper, the stovetop — making quick work of both scone and winter survival.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon fine salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up
¾ cup buttermilk (or substitute 10 tablespoons milk mixed with 2 tablespoons plain yogurt)
Mild oil (such as canola) and unsalted butter, for crisping
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Measure flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and salt into the food processor. Buzz until oats are reduced to fine powder, about 1 minute. Add butter and pulse several times until mixture looks crumbly.
Heap flour mixture in a bowl. Drizzle on buttermilk, mixing with a fork just until the dough clumps.
Set a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add 1-2 teaspoons oil and 1-2 teaspoons butter, plus a pinch of salt. When butter has melted, add bannock dough, patting evenly into place. Neaten up the edges with a rubber spatula. Let cook, shaking pan now and then, until bottom is golden brown, top is no longer sticky and center has cooked through (test with a toothpick), about 18 minutes. Adjust heat to keep bannock from scorching.
Brush the top of the bannock with some of the melted butter. Place a flat lid or plate over the bannock. Wearing oven mitts, flip skillet and plate, landing bannock crisp-side-up on plate. Return skillet to heat. Brush skillet with additional melted butter. Slide bannock back into skillet, crisp side up, and let second side cook to a golden brown, about 3 minutes.
Slide bannock onto a cutting board. Let cool a few minutes. Slice into 8 wedges. Enjoy sweet (say, with jam) or savory (say, with stew).
Leah Eskin is a Tribune special contributor e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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