Over the years, I learned from the best. Back in the mid-90s when I landed in Okanagon Territory, a friend of mine made some really amazing bannock. What made it so amazing? I had to find out. Now, you might not know this but some people are secretive about their recipe and it’s locked behind generations and generations of the tight-lipped. You might need some lard to grease those lips.
My friend, now has a PhD in Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights, gave me one tip that helped me on my way. That tip was to sift all the dry ingredients. It makes sense. All the cool kids sift.
My gramma was one of the best cooks around. She never measured anything. Just eyeballed every ingredient. Dash of this. Pinch of that. Gramma’s house always smelled deelishish. I asked her how to make fry bread. She taught me how to make it with actual bread dough. The trick was to let it rest in a warm environment during the rising phase. And not to pound it. Not that many people make fry bread this way as I found out later. Most people make actual bannock dough then fry it up.
When I was growing up we called bannock or fry bread – skaan (that’s the Nish way to say scone). It’s all the same thing. Just a different way to say it. What I learned is that all nations of people around the world make similar loaves of bread. Naan. Bake. Roti. Scone. It’s all part of our basic survival. When life was hard and the staple was flour all you needed was baking powder or yeast, a dash salt, and luke warm water then voila! Bon Appetit.
But what makes the average piece of bannock great?
And, instead of just water, mix it half and half with milk. That’s the secret as shared from one of my co-workers. Warm water and warm milk will help with the leavening agent and makes it fluffy and light. If you haven’t tried this before I reckon you should step into that kitchen immediately and have at it.
Another tip: don’t overwork your dough. All the cool kids mix until a dough starts forming and that’s it. Leave it alone. It will be okay. Throw it in a pan, stick it in a pre-heated oven at 350 C for 20-25 minutes, and you’re good to go.
But wait, is that it?
Not in the slightest. Before you stick in the oven get creative. Actually, before you add any liquid add some raisins and cinnamon. Or grated cheese and rosemary. Blueberries and maple syrup is quite tasty and satisfies any bear clan member. Or raspberries, blueberries, and maple syrup. Grated cheese and minced garlic for the savory type. The possibilities are endless. It all depends on your imagination. Did I mention adding maple syrup?
So is it healthy?
Not fried. Baked is better. We all know diabetes is running rampant in our communities. So eat bannock in moderation. Get in at least one mile of walking a day. Remember our ancestors walked for survival and over great distances. Each day that passes we get more sedentary. Get up and walk off that piece of bannock. Walk for inspiration, motivation, and health.
Wanna share your bannock story? Leave a comment! Miigwech.