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Beremeal Bannocks

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 24 January 2018 at 09:48
I was recently introduced to a Scottish favourite: bannock. A little digging pointed me toward a splendid-looking recipe for this traditional and unique bread:

From the article:

Quote Traditionally made on a griddle or stone in a peat fire, it’s probable that this quick flat bread has been cooked here [In Scotland] for thousands of years. They’re as integral a part of [our] culture now as ever.

If you read the rest of article, you can see why this appealed to me...greatly.

For the sake of convenience, I will post the recipe here, with full credit to the author:

Quote Shetland Bannocks

225g beremeal (try barley flour if you can’t get beremeal)
2tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
240mL buttermilk

Heat a griddle or heavy frying pan over medium heat.

In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and salt until well combined.

Make a well in the center of the flour and add the buttermilk. Bring the flour in bit by bit until you end up with a fairly sticky dough.

Generously flour a worktop and turn half the dough onto it. Being careful not to get any flour on the top, gently begin to bring the floured sides up and over the top working the dough around in your hand until you have a smooth ball.

Place the ball back onto the floured worktop and flatten it gently with your fingers until you have a round, flat disk about a 1 1/2cm thick. Cut evenly into four quarters gently wiggling the blade a bit as you do to separate the pieces from one another.

Once the griddle or pan is hot, but not so hot as to burn a bit of flour sprinkled onto it, carefully place the bannocks onto it.

Leave the bannocks to cook for about 5 min, until the bottom is dark golden, and then flip and allow to cook for a further 5 minutes on the other side.

Once the bannocks are cooked remove them from the pan and wrap them loosely in a clean tea towel.

Repeat the forming and cooking steps with the second half of the dough.

Note - If you don't have any buttermilk you can measure out 240mL of regular milk, add 1 Tbsp of lemon juice, and leave it to sit for five minutes, and then use as you would the buttermilk.

As you can see, one key ingredient is beremeal, which is - as far as I can tell - only grown on the Orkney and Shetland Islands. It is an ancient, unique and much-loved grain that in many ways is representative of Scotland itself, as well as its people:

Quote Bere (pronounced ‘bear’) is a form of six-row barley which has been grown in Orkney [and Shetland] for thousands of years. Beremeal bannocks are a staple food...and it is also used in the brewing of ale. Bere is quite possibly Britain’s oldest cereal grain still in commercial cultivation and was likely brought here by Viking settlers way back when. It has adapted to growing in soils with low pH and in areas with long daylight hours, such as Orkney and Shetland, when it doesn’t really get dark during the summer months. It grows rapidly and being sown in the spring and harvested in the summer it has been called “the 90 day barley”.

The source above (Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary) also has a recipe for Orkney's version of beremeal bannocks, and it looks very good; however, the Shetland version calls to me, so I will endeavor to make it.

I have a friend with "Scottish connections" who might actually be able to procure some of this; if not, then "regular" barley flour is an acceptable substitute. I am looking into options, where that is concerned.
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