Canada being such a diverse ethnicity from our beginning, we don’t have a lot of truly traditional foods. Flour was a luxury item in the early days of the fur trade. It was used to thicken pemmican style soup. Pemmican is a mixture of fat and protein used as a nutritious emergency food. The word comes from Cree word pimihkan, “pemmican”. It was invented by the native people of North America. Flour was used as well to thicken Rubaboo which was a stew eaten by the Coureurs des bois and voyageurs (fur traders) and Métis natives. This was made of peas and/or corn and bear or pork fat thickened with bread or flour. They often mixed in pemmican and maple sugar. Occasionally when there was enough, flour was used to make galettes. Galette is the name used by voyageurs of the North West Company for an unleavened flour-water biscuit made by baking in a frying pan, or in the ashes of the campfire. Bannock is the name used by voyageurs of the North West Company. The Selkirk Settlers referred to their flour water biscuit as bannock. Eventually bannock became the name accepted. Bannock acquired other names, too: bush bread, trail bread, or grease bread. The traditional way to prepare bannock was to mix the ingredients into a large round biscuit and bake in a frying pan or propped up against sticks by the campfire. The frying pan usually was tilted against a rock so that it slanted towards the fire for part of the baking. Bannock is a truly Canadian food.
Bannock is cooked in the oven or over a charcoal or open fire. Recipe for Bannock on a stick follows.
- 4 cups of all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 2 cups of water or milk
- Combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl.
- Measure the water or milk and add it to the flour mixture with a fork. A dough should form. If it is too dry and crumbly add a little more liquid, a tablespoon at a time.
- Turn the dough out onto a surface lightly coated with flour. Knead for about 3 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 Celsius
- Pat the dough into a circle about 3/4 inch thick. Transfer the dough onto a well greased cookie sheet. Prick the dough all over with a fork.
- Bake about 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Bannock on a Stick
- Prepare bannock dough as above. Have ready several sticks 3-4 feet long.
- Divide the dough into golf ball size balls. Shape each ball into a rope about 8 inches long by rolling between the hands.
- Wrap each dough rope around the end of a stick working length wise down the stick.
- Hold the dough over a bed of red hot coals, turning frequently to bake the dough evenly.