I've been sick for more than a week with a terrible cold. Though hungry I could only eat things like chicken noodle soup, vegetable soup, crackers, juices, etc. By the end of a week I was wanting some stick to my ribs kind of food. Whenever I am hungry after having been sick for awhile, I whip up a batch of bannock. This is a type of bread and something mom used to make a lot when we kids were growing up. Like most bannock makers, I've developed an intuitive sense of how much of each ingredient to put into the bowl without being precise about measurements. Sometimes it turns out better than other times but I've never flubbed a batch yet.
In a large bowl you place about
* 5-6 cups of unbleached flour
* several heaping teaspoons of baking soda
* a pinch of salt
* a hint of sugar (optional).
Make a well in the center of the flour (by scooping some of the flour to the sides of the bowl) so there is an indentation in the middle of your ingredients.
Next, you add several big tablespoons of shortening. In my recipe I used Coconut Oil because of what I believe to be its health benefits though I also use regular vegetable oil from the supermarket and sometimes lard.
Now you sift all the ingredients together lightly, by hand, mixing the coconut oil gently through the flour while taking care not to melt it by handling it too much. Soon you will have small balls of flour about the size of tapioca or small peas.
Again, make a well in the center of the bowl of flour. Add enough water to cover the well and begin to gently stir the flour from the sides of the bowl and into the center. Some people prefer using milk instead of water. When the flour is moist, you may gently continue working the flour mixture with your hands until the mixture forms a doughy consistency. At this point you may need to add a little more flour or water depending on the dough's consistency but be careful not to over do.
Once your dough adheres together, place a bit of flour on the counter top and roll the dough gently together with your hands, shaping and forming it by patting it into the shape of your pan. Usually a long cookie sheet is used for baking the bannock but I guess it depends on which part of the country you are enjoying the bannock. In some areas they fry the bread instead. If you are having fry bread the oil is omitted from the batter because of the oil used for deep frying.
This is a picture of the baking sheet I use (below) and my dough ready to go into the oven. I will often slice the batter into serving portions before it goes into the oven and prick the dough with the tines (prongs) of a fork.
I baked this one at approx 375-400 degrees until golden brown, checking it now and then so it doesn't begin to burn.
With this recipe, I had enough dough for two batches...Here is the second smaller batch cooked in a glass roaster. Both of them turned out delicious and flaky.
To eat, you simply break off pieces of bannock or you can take a knife and slice off squares. I put all my bannock in zip lock baggies to preserve moisture otherwise they do go dry very soon. Bannock is always best eaten within 2 days of making it. Serve it with butter and/or preserves. You can also use it in place of bread for a sandwich. Happy eating.
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