Bannocks at Castle Leoch
“Weel now, that’s verra gude. Now, ye’ve just time for a wee bite, then I must take you to himself.”
“Himself?” I said. I didn’t care for the sound of this. Whoever Himself was, he was likely to ask difficult questions.
“Why, the MacKenzie to be sure. Whoever else?”
[. . .]
I had no appetite for the bannocks and parritch that Mrs. FitzGibbons had brought for my breakfast, but crumbled a bit and pretended to eat, in order to gain some time for thought. By the time Mrs. Fitz came back to conduct me to the MacKenzie, I had cobbled together a rough plan.
Mrs Fitz’s bannocks (and/or their close cousin, the oatcake), would have been on the table at every meal, and you would have always found a plate of them keeping warm near the edge of the cooking hearth all day long
Traditional bannocks from Mrs Fitz's kitchens were dense round cakes of oat and/or barley flour, animal fat and water/milk,cooked on a griddle pan, or girdle. The cakes were split into 8 equal wedges (farls) and consumed, for the most part, while still warm. This modern recipe yields light and flaky biscuitlike bannocks, thanks be to wheat and baking powder.
I looked at approximately 1,538 recipes for bannocks while researching for Outlander Kitchen. Most modern recipes incorporate wheat flour and use butter instead of baking fat. Many call for buttermilk to tenderize the dough, but I chose yogurt to do the same thing for a couple of reasons: 1) I've found more OK readers have yogurt in their fridge than buttermilk. 2) The Recipe Index already has a few recipes that use buttermilk, and I like to mix things up.
I cut my bannocks into rectangles because that's what this verra practical bannock baker in Shetland does. Roll the dough into a square, cut 12 rectangular bannocks and bake. There's no scraps to re-roll -- easy peasy, fresh and squeezy.
This modern version of a castle staple is lighter and flakier than the dense pucks the Clan MacKenzie would have proclaimed delicious. Thanks be to wheat and baking powder.
Yield: 1 dozen
- All-Purpose Flour - 2 Cups, plus extra for kneading
- Quick Cooking Oats - 1 Cup (see notes)
- Baking Powder - 1 Tble
- Sugar - 1 Tble
- Salt - ½ tsp
- Butter, cold - ¼ Cup
- Milk - ¾ Cup
- Plain Yogurt - ½ Cup
Move rack to upper middle position and heat oven to 400° F. Line a baking pan with parchment or silicone baking sheet.Combine flour, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Grate cold butter into dry ingredients and mix well.
Stir together milk and yogurt. Add to dry ingredients and stir with wooden spoon to make a sticky dough.
Turn onto a floured counter and sprinkle with more flour. Knead dough lightly 5 or 6 times, working in additional flour, so that dough is no longer sticky
Roll into 8”x8” square, about ½” thick. Cut into 12 equal rectangles and arrange on prepared baking pan.
Bake until just golden, 12-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.
Serve warm with butter, cheese and jam, the roasted meat of your choice, or your morning parritch.
Store in a covered container for up to 3 days.
- I only keep whole rolled oats in my pantry. When I need the quick-cooking variety, I grind whole oats in a coffee grinder I keep especially for spices and other jobs like this. (3) 1 second pulses gets you the correct texture.
- Grating it cold is the quickest way to incorporate butter into a dough for bannocks, scones and pastry.