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Bannock

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Bannock has been a staple food of wilderness explorers, prospectors, soldiers, and trappers for centuries. Portable, nutritious, tasty and easy to make while surviving in the outdoors, bannocks legendary reputation continues as one of the best survival foods you can bring into the wilderness.

Bannock is high in carbohydrates and complements the proteins of pemmican, jerky, the arctic survival ration, and other meats. It can be used as a hearty stand-alone food or combined with foraged wild edibles such as berries, fruits, and meats.

What is Bannock?

Bannock is a bread that you can cook using little more than a fire and a stick though it can also be baked or fried. Names for bannock include bushbread, trail bread, grease bread and galette.

Bannocks origins are lost in the mists of time, but some believe bannock was first made by the Scotts from the same oat flour that gave their horses great strength and endurance. With stomachs fed with hearty oat bannock those who became explorers and mountain men in the new world introduced the bannock recipe to the Native Americans and other outdoorsmen who lived in the wilderness.

bannock
Bannock

The most simple bannock recipe consists of just flour of nearly any kind and water. Kneaded into a dough and wrapped around a green stick, this most basic bannock cooks into a fine tasting bread that can be eaten alone or used as a basis for a full course meal.

There are a great many other bannock recipies that will make your mouth water and give you the impetus to try your hand at making your own. In the pictures you can see me cooking one of my favorite bannock recipes over an open fire in the forest:

Survival Topics Bannock on a Green Stick

This is my favorite way to make bannock as it brings forth the image of mountainmen from a bygone era cooking over an open fire.

The following recipe provides enough bannock for one day. Stored in a waterproof bag, it is easy to carry a week or ten day supply.

1-cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons milk powder

Mix all the ingredients well, making sure the butter is evenly distributed throughout. Sometimes I will melt the butter before adding it to the mixture. Then slowly add water while mixing until a dough ball is formed.

Cooking Bannock
Cooking Bannock

Make the bannock dough into a cigar shape and wrap it around a green stick. Try to keep the thickness of the dough about ½ inch.

Slowly roast the bannock over a hot fire, rotating occasionally until it turns a golden brown. You will hear the butter sizzling and your stomach rumble as the bannock cooks.

Multi-flour Bannock Recipe

This combination of flours, spices, and dried fruit makes the bannock a delicious meal of itself and makes me hungry just thinking about it. It can be cooked over an open fire on a green stick or formed into a loaf and baked and makes a 3-day supply:

1 Cup Barley flour
1 Cup Wheat flour
1/2 Cup Rolled Oats
1 Cup White Sugar
1/2 to 1 Cup Raisins or other dried fruit
1 1/2 Cup Buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tbsp. Coarse Ground Salt
1 tbsp. Cinnamon
1 tbsp. Cloves
1 tbsp. Nutmeg

 

Fried Bannock

If you like fried foods then you need to try fried Bannock.

4 cups flour
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup margarine/butter
2 eggs
1/4 tbsp salt

Mix all the ingredients so a dough ball is formed. Break off pieces and flatten into rounds about ½ inch thick. Fry to a golden brown in the oil of your choice.

Try Making Bannock

Bannock is a fulfilling meal that can be used to supplement natural foods foraged from your surroundings. When hiking in the wilderness I like to have enough pre-mixed bannock recipe for at least one meal each day.

Try out various combinations of bannock mixed with fruits, nuts and seeds, cheeses, meats, fish and a variety of spices. Wilderness meals containing bannock can satisfy even the most discriminating palate.

Bannock is easy to cook and is an excellent comfort food that will elevate your mood and fill your stomach. There is nothing quite like the sight and smell of fresh bannock cooking over an open fire at the end of a hard day surviving in the wilderness.

Comment on the Survival Topics article "Bannock".
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Wolverine
Northern California

I remember Shelby Foote describing Civil War soldiers cooking bannock in the Ken Burns documentary film. Thank you for the details.

Dario
Miami

Nice! I can't wait to try making bannock.  I'm going to the grand canyon for camping and it would be fun to make bannock. I have one question though: You say that you can store it in a waterproof bag and make supplies for a week but when you say store it for a week do you mean the dough or the ingredients? or already cooked?

Survival Topics - You would want to store the ingredients for bannock dry, since if you add water the dough will begin to ferment or even mold.  In this way the ingredients will be lighter also, which makes a difference if you are hiking in your food and supplies.
G.S
Michigan

Going to mix up the dry bannock ingredients and take them on my next backpacking trip.

Pete
Aus

Sounds like another name for "damper" that was cooked by Australian settlers.

O Smith
WA, USA

I just made some very basic fried Bannock at my house in a frying pan. I used Whole Wheat Flour, Quaker Oats, a little Canola Oil, a little Baking Powder, and some Evaporated Milk. It was very tasty. Almost like a pancake in fact. I bet if you put some peanut butter and syrup on it you wouldn't be able to tell it wasn't a pancake! Thanks for the article.

J.K.S.
Florida

Any suggestions for warm weather substitutions for butter or margarine in a bannock recipe? The dry ingredients aren't a problem, keeping butter or margarine on a weekend hike in 90 degree weather isn't practical. Would something like olive oil work?

Survival Topics - yes, I regularly use olive oil for making bannock.  It is also a healthier alternative to many other fats and oils.

Sean
Northern California

You could also use gee, also known as clarified butter. This is butter that has had the water cooked off. It is shelf stable for the duration of a hiking trip.

JimShyWolf
Minnesota

"While The Bannock Bakes", by Robert Service, poet Laureate of Canada, contemporary of Jack London and other Alaskan gold rush writers. Great poem if you ever get the chance to read it. Makes the baking of 'bannock' an even more memorable event. Thanks for the bannock recipies- I've been looking for more.

Patrick
Erie, PA

How long will the uncooked bannock stay good?

Survival Topics - as long as you keep the bannock ingredients dry they should last many months.

Vernon Thompson
Huntington, West Virginia

I enjoyed the article on Bannock. I cant wait until I can try my hand at making bannock. Thank you for the recipe.

BiggAndyy
SW PA

On a weekend trip to our favorite camping site we were in a hurry to "get out of dodge" and just threw some Bisquick in a plastic bag. It made a tolerable substitute to home made bannock.  Probably Bisquick is just a commercialized version of bannock.


Bannock is part of the culture of ourr people.  Fried bannock is very tastey when dipped in maple syrup and eaten with a nice cup of hot tea or coffee.  Our people eat many seafoods of all types.  Traditional hon is fish, herring, eggs, smoked and fried fish.  All seafoods are very good with bannock.

Raymond
Central IL

Would it be possible to make Bannock out of nothing more than wilderness supplied ingredients?

Survival Topics - sure.  Flour made from wild grains, pollens, and nuts come to mind.

Nathaniel
midwest USA

Bannock sounds delicious and a great meal for survivors. I will try it soon.

Bill Cunningham
Charlotte, NC

This recipe was so interesting, I tried a batch just now, exactly like the first one in this article. It made 4 good sized bannocks. They were extremely filling, and less fluffy than I expected.  I would tweak the recipe to add a bit more salt, some sugar, and a bit more baking powder. But basically this was a very simple, and very good food!

Cag3db1rd
OK

I'm going to try making up some mix using Honeyville's powdered butter. Might travel better.

John
Michigan

I just made some a second ago. I added some cinnamon, oats, and nutmeg. I omitted the butter and milk powder. Rolled into balls, flattened, and fried in olive oil. Pretty good. A lot better with honey.

mike
oregon

I just made some fried Bannock for dinner, and cut down the recipe to 1/4, and could still only eat 2/3 of it. It was like a rich pancake in the pan and put strawberry preserves and butter on it. I will definitely keep using these recipes, thanks for a really cool site.

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