Bannock bread – the classic of the outdoor kitchen

27. August 2020

Since the Middle Ages in Europe, bread has been the quintessential food. It’s not only at the bakery that the options are endless – there are also undreamt of possibilities for making it yourself, both in terms of the style and the preparation. A real classic of the camp fire and the gas stove is bannock bread. Bannock comes from the Scottish Highlands, and is a kind of flat bread that can basically be made from two ingredients. Hanna from the Alpinetrek online editorial team is here with some tips on how to make it taste the best and what you should pay attention to when preparing it.

Bannock breadWhat you need for bannock bread:

  • Must-haves
    • Flour (2 parts)
    • Water (1 part)
  • Nice-to-haves
    • Salt
    • Oil
    • Baking powder, bicarb or dry yeast (in which case, some sugar, too)
  • Practically decadent
    • Spices (helpful here: the spice shaker with 6 compartments!)
    • Herbs (wild garlic, dandelion…)
    • Chopped nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, beechnuts…)

Tipps for the bread dough

Bannock bread

Bannock on sticks

Know your cup. Nobody takes a measuring cup or scales with them on tour – but you’ve always got a cup. You can check at home what quantity it holds. You might even want to mark where 100 ml of water or 250 g of flour come up to.
Don’t knead in all the flour at once, always leave some extra in case the whole thing sticks to your hands. If the flour/water ratio is correct, your hands will be clean when you’ve finished kneading.
It’s easier to knead with oil. Well-organised bread bakers have a plastic bag (preferably zip-lock) of oil with them. You can even knead the dough in it without touching it with your skin at all – just put all the ingredients inside and then knead the bag.
When all the ingredients have been mixed together a bit but the whole thing hasn’t yet been kneaded until it’s soft, you can divide it into portions and knead smaller pieces – this makes it super quick to get the first loaves into the oven.
To do this, press the dough as flat as possible and fill it into the “baking tin” properly.

Caution when baking

Bannock bread

Bannock from a tin oven

The classic method for the gas stove is to cook it in a pot or a pan. If possible, use a lot of oil so the bread doesn’t burn. It’s best if it’s moved around constantly. And don’t let it get too hot!
If you make a fire, you have more options. The original bannock bakers simply pushed the dough into the hot ashes and dug it out again a few hours later. An incomparable aroma! Like with a gas stove, a pot can also be placed in the embers. In that case, it’s best to lay rocks beneath the pot so that it doesn’t all get burnt (but something will always burn). If you’ve had some tinned food and you can wash out the empty cans, you can also bake rolls in them. This is best with lots of oil inside so that the bread practically fries, and so it doesn’t stick. For a fire, there are of course also specialities like the Dutch oven and the ranger’s oven (ultralight for touring – you build it yourself). An interesting in-between is the bushbox, which can be folded up.

A few pro tips

The possibilities are endless. Hardcore survivalists make their own flour and use white, cold ashes as leavening. For home-made flour, you need a dish cloth or cotton t-shirt, a stone, patience and your choice of beechnuts, roots, clover or acorns (all gluten free). You have to leach the latter a lot, though, until they are usable, so either boil them out several times in hot water or put them in running water for 24 hours (e.g. in a stream in your socks).

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