Traditional Barley Bannock from Outlander Kitchen

Jocasta's Auld Country Scottish Bannock from Drums of Autumn

"I don't quite understand, " Brianna said.  "Did Mr. Browne not want to admit that a woman hit him?"

"Ah, no," Jamie said, pouring another cup of ale and handing it to her.  "It was only Sergeant Murchison making a nuisance of himself."

"Sergeant Murchison?  That would be the army officer who was at the trial?" she asked.  She took a small sip of the ale, for politeness' sake.  "The one who looks like a half-roasted pig?"

Her father grinned at this characterization.

"Aye that'll be the man.  He's a mislike of me," he explained.  "This wilna be the first time -- or the last -- that he's tried such a trick to cripple me."

"He could not hope to succeed with such a ridiculous charge," Jocasta chimed in, leaning forward and reaching out a hand.  Ulysses, standing by, moved the plate of bannocks the necessary inch.  She took one, unerringly, and turned her disconcerting blind eyes toward Jamie.

Drums of Autumn, Chap 41

What is a bannock?  Well, that really depends upon where you are in the world.  The bannock I grew up with here on the Canadian west coast came from the diets of our First Nations; an unleavened dough of wheat flour, water and salt, molded over a stick and toasted over an open fire.  In other regions of North America, you may know bannocks as something slightly different.  There may be cornmeal and baking powder in the dough, and they could be deep fried, rolled in sand and cooked in a pit, or baked in the oven.  Traditional ingredients prior to Europeans included corn and nut flours, those ground from plant bulbs and tubers, as well as seasonal fruits and seeds.

In Scotland, where the term originates from the Gaelic bannach, meaning cake, bannocks were originally round, medium-sized flat breads made from a wet dough of barleymeal and/or oatmeal.  (Meal is an unsifted powder, coarser than flour, ground from any grain.)  They were cooked on a girdle, or griddle, and were cut into scones, or wedges.

In Scotland today, the term refers to any baked item similar in shape and size to the original bannock, and is also used to describe a large circular scone that has been scored into sections.  Wheat flour and baking soda are included in most modern recipes.

Confused?  I've been researching these for days, and I'm still a little unclear. The most important thing to remember is that a bannock is many things to many people.

bannock-dough

So what was Jocasta's bannock like?

For all that she was a capable and powerful woman for her time, Jocasta was also a woman of tradition.  Unlike her older sister, Ellen, she obeyed her father and made a political marriage at a young age with a man she didn't know.  When he died, she formed a second strategic match with another man who, to save his own life, took from her the most important things of all.

By the time we meet her, she is a sightless, three-time widow and the sole surviving sibling of a once powerful clan that has been shattered to rubble in her lifetime.  Despite it all, she is proudly (yet barely) managing a massive estate and operation in her newly adopted land.  It must all be a little surreal at times for a woman, who, when she was born, would never have been expected to leave the Highlands.

I imagine Jocasta turning to the familiar foods from her childhood to foster an atmosphere of calm in her dark and uncertain world.  Because while food nourishes, it can also comfort.

For me, in times of stress, it's my Mom's macaroni and cheese.  For Jocasta, it's her auld-country Scottish bannocks.

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Comments

21 Nov 2011 - 3:17pm

The Mom Chef …


These actually look good. I had no idea that was what a bannock is. I'd have never even guessed. I think I would want mine warm, with butter and jam. :)

21 Nov 2011 - 5:50pm

Kiri W.


How interesting! I don't think I've had anything close to a bannock, but it does look quite tasty :)

Theresa


Kiri, think of a bannock as a dense, heavy scone. I really enjoyed mine warm, with a little butter and jam.

21 Nov 2011 - 9:48pm

Bri


I tried to make bannocks last year from an old recipe that called for bacon grease, but since I'm vegetarian, I had to make some alterations. The end result was pretty disastrous...but your recipe is veggie, so I will definitely be trying it!

Theresa


Bacon grease bannocks, eh? I like bacon, but I'm not so sure about that ;)

22 Nov 2011 - 6:44pm

Lee Ann


I'm definitely going to try this one. I've been wanting to attempt bannocks for a while. I've done oatcakes...with bacon grease...

Theresa


And how did the bacon grease oatcakes taste, Lee Ann? I'm curious!

22 Nov 2011 - 9:24pm

Lorry Elliott …


my family eats them while camping - only ours usually has raisins/blueberries or even wild saskatoons in them!!!! Wonderful while hot!!!!!

23 Nov 2011 - 8:29pm

Carolyn


Okay, these are so not the bannocks I grew up with, the bread we fried up on canoe trips in Algonquin Park. They do look delicious though!nnPS - I keep having trouble with your links on foodbuzz because you put an ellipsis prior to the http:// Just fyi that it reads the ... as part of the address and then the link won't work.

Theresa


Thanks Carolyn -- and weird...I wonder what I'm doing wrong? I'll actually pay attention to what I paste in next time! Theresa

06 Apr 2013 - 10:30am

dawn


Cooking these today for a living history event at an historic plantation in SC which was people in 1765 by a Scots family, their 8 kids and one slave.

13 Aug 2014 - 12:33pm

Bannocks at C…


Traditional bannocks from Mrs Fitzs 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.

13 Aug 2014 - 8:24pm

Theresa

I don't see why not!

13 Aug 2014 - 8:25pm

Theresa


No doubt bannocks went on a wee journey with the Scots as they spread throughout the world!

27 Aug 2014 - 8:05pm

Sue


I grew up in Nova Scotia & one of my favourite things was baking powder biscuits (made with lard or shortening), hot from the oven with butter & molasses. Likely started out being bannock but over the years it evolved into this. I have not made baking powder biscuits in years but I plan on trying out Jocasta's bannock. I love whole grains. Thanks for doing such a great job of the Outlander Kitchen website for all of us Jamie (swoon) & Clare fans !

Sue

I can't believe I misspelled Claire !! Sorry.

11 May 2015 - 6:48pm

Kimberley


Got my first bannock cooking now, such a joy to make using simple ingredients, looking forward to trying it! I am quite tempted to cook a couple of rashers of bacon and an egg to go with, does that sound od?!

13 Aug 2014 - 6:24pm

kathy moore


I don't have a coffee grinder so could I make the ground up oats by pulsing with my magic bullet?

13 Aug 2014 - 6:32pm

Patricia


We have something similar in Newfoundland and I love them with molasses and butter. Lol it is the only way I eat molasses without it being cooked in something (cookies, home made baked beans).

17 Aug 2014 - 4:10am

Shayna


Jocastas's actually a three time widow. I'm going to try this recipe though. Looks good.

05 Sep 2014 - 12:36am

Brooke


Just tried to make thesedidn't go well. Very dry, broke apart before I could even get into pan. And broke all apart when tried to flip. Suggestions?

Theresa


What a shame! My suggestion would be to first try a little more water?

05 Dec 2014 - 12:17am

Camille


I've made scones for my grandchildren for years which it turns out is a more sophisticated bannock. I don't think that Jocasta would hold would todays' modern bannock like mine with cranberries which didn't grow there. But in Jocastas' time, she used what was available to her or what could be procured from the outlining neighborhood.

24 Mar 2015 - 10:30am

Ramona


This is how my mother made bannocks when I was a kid, more than 50 years ago, in California. Nice to find your recipe. I couldn't remember much about them except that she made them with simple ingredients, and cooked them on a griddle, one large circle cut into 8 triangles. They were crispy and good split and served with butter and jam.

14 Apr 2015 - 12:00pm

Barley Bannoc…


a little thinner than what they would have been back then. A true 1/2 thick bannock, like this one I made for Jocasta, is dense and heavy, and a lot to get down, in my opinion. I took my lead from the author of a

13 Sep 2015 - 3:22am

Laura S


Thank you for this recipe! I'm vegan, so I used coconut oil for butter and water for milk. I was so eager to make it that I just used wheat flour the first time. They came out savory and delicious with my potato stew. The second time, I ground oats and barley in my blender before making them again with coconut oil and water. I burnt them because I got distracted, but the bits that weren't charred tasted very hearty, and I agree are perfect for jam!

09 Oct 2015 - 4:18pm

riza walker

Going to try these today; )

09 Oct 2015 - 9:58pm

Danna Stamper


My grandmother would make apparently all types of "bannocks". Of course she mostly used flour and corn meal If she had left over mashed potatoes, she made potato cakes and if there were left over pinto beans, she made bean cakes! All fried in lard/bacon grease of course. And all delicious.

14 Nov 2015 - 3:31pm

Diane


Just a quick comment about the barley bannocks recipe. Personally, I know I would love this recipe even not having made it but I will soon. My opinion is, we also eat with our eyes and our heart. Yes, taste and texture is also important (try tasting and chewing with your eyes closed), the fragrance that fills the kitchen when something is in the works can paint a picture before it even reaches your mouth. All of these senses take part in the kitchen and create an excitement and anticipation for me when trying something new. My Mom, born and raised in Scotland, loves when I make scones for her when she visits. I certainly don't make them the way her Mom did but it starts her reminiscing just the same.

19 Nov 2015 - 9:01pm

Finnish Barley…


they do feature barley! One of these days, Ill have to try my hand at;Jocastas auld-country;bannocks. I must say that I have yet to meet a male reader who likes the series but I can tell you from

16 Dec 2015 - 10:04pm

Robert


I found if you grind the barley and Oates too fine, such as in a Nutra Bullet (an effortless chore using the grinding blade), the recipe requires more milk, about 1 1/2 that stated in the recipe. These taste lovely and full of excellent fiber.

24 Feb 2016 - 6:18pm

Cynthia


A lady after my own heart! I have an obsession with both cooking and history and just so happen to be a huge fan of the Outlander series too. Such a pleasant surprise to come across your site! Going to try these after work!

20 May 2016 - 5:46pm

peggy reed


i grew up in the ozarks in ark. we often ate fried hoecakes much the same as bannacks, but made of flour and fried ina little oil in skillet,this was when we didnt have a oven

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