This simple skillet bannock is made for the lazy man (or woman). Stir it up like a pancake batter and in no time you can have a slab of warm, tender bannock to slather with butter. (Skip to recipe.)
Summer has been busy.
We’ve had company from Germany (dear friends, and the time was too short). We’ve been to a family reunion (great new memories made), and I spent time with mom and sisters at the cabin (lovely relaxing, saunas, and wine).
Why is summer so short? Do you remember those hazy childhood days and that wonderful feeling on the first day of the summer holiday? The thought of two whole months of glorious sun-filled days seemed to stretch ahead of you forever with the promise of playing and projects and just lazy hanging-around. Every day was packed with new adventures that were larger than life and so earth-shatteringly important.
Well, every day is packed with new adventures now too, but somehow the days blend into one another in this ever-accelerating kaleidoscope of whizzing images.
And here we are now – summer is almost over.
We had a lovely day canoeing on the North Saskatchewan river with our German friends, plus some adventures getting stranded in Edmonton in a subway station to wait out a massive, flash-flooding thunder-and-lightening storm (that was the day drivers had to be rescued from their submerged cars with boats).
Our family reunion took place at my uncle’s lakehouse two hours out of Kamloops, BC. It was the first reunion on my mom’s side of the family and celebrated 60 years since the family arrived in Canada as German immigrants. It was absolutely wonderful to spend time with aunts and uncles and cousins I hadn’t seen more than briefly in many years – so heartwarming to reconnect and tell stories and make fantastic new memories. As the original immigrants told their stories of life in Germany and how they made it across the ocean to start their new lives in this new land, I was never prouder to belong to this amazing family.
And then to the cabin at Francois Lake – one of my favourite places in the world. My dad built the cabin, and every corner of it is wrapped up in memories of him and of times spent there with our children when they were young.
We always make bannock when we’re at the cabin. It’s become part of our tradition. My sister, Nancy, teaches in an elementary school in Terrace, B.C. that is comprised largely of aboriginal students, and traditional aboriginal meals are big part of any of their social events, so she’s become our family’s reigning bannock queen. Whether we wrap thick green poplar sticks with bannock dough strips to roast over the fire, or shape it into patties to fry in a cast iron skillet – we love this dense but flaky type of campfire biscuit. In the drawer at the cabin there’s a bannock recipe book pamphlet, filled with all kinds of traditional bannock recipes from British Columbia’s First Nations tribes.
Nancy made us her normal bannock (learned from her school) which she mixes up without a recipe. She baked it in a skillet and we slathered big wedges of it with butter to eat to our meal. So flaky and and delicious.
Once I got home, I tried one of the bannock recipes I’d copied out from the pamphlet – a lazyman’s version – which turned out beautifully even with gluten-free flour and was so quick and easy to whip up. Its texture is slightly different than regular bannock – this one is moister and softer, a bit more like a firm pancake, but still a fantastic vehicle for melting butter – and that’s the whole point, right? I know it’ll become a new favourite around here when I make a pot of homemade soup and need a quick biscuit to go with it.
I’m all for anything labeled Lazy Man’s!
I’m a bit of a bannock babe. I know I’ve got two other recipes already on this site, here for a traditional bannock and here for pan-fried bannock biscuits, but I just can’t get enough of this Canadian classic. And now that I’ve got this easy skillet recipe in my repertoire, I may become even more bannock bonkers!
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Kitchen Frau Notes: This version of bannock is so easy to make – just rub the butter or lard into the dry ingredients, then stir it up like pancake batter. Of course, you can’t wrap the batter around a stick, but you can bake it in the oven or over a grate set over the glowing, hot, burned-down coals of your campfire. The baking time will vary depending on the heat of your fire. Skillet bannock is done when it springs back when you press a finger into the center of it, or if a straw inserted into the center comes out with only dry crumbs stuck to it.
As with any bannock, you can rub in the butter or lard and store the mixture in a sealed plastic bag or container to take along camping, then add the water or milk when you’re ready to mix it up.
I’ve only tried the gluten-free version of this recipe with my own gluten free flour mix, and it turns out light and fluffy every time. And of course, the version made with regular wheat flour turns out beautifully, and browns to a golden colour on top (unlike the gluten-free version, which doesn’t brown much).
adapted from Thelma Blackstock’s recipe in Bannock Awareness ‘Printed in Celebration of Aboriginal Awareness Day, June 21, 2006’ by British Columbia Forest Service
- 2 cups (280gms) flour or 2¼ cups (315gms) gluten free flour mix
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup butter or lard
- 1 cup (240ml) milk (or plant-based non-dairy milk)
- 1 cup (240ml) water
- additional butter or lard for greasing the pan
Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
Grease a 10 inch (25cm) cast iron skillet liberally with butter or lard. (Or use an 8 or 9 inch square glass baking dish.)
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Rub in the butter or lard with your fingers until it is broken down into oatmeal-sized flakes.
Add the milk and water and stir with a wooden spoon until all the flour is completely moistened. The batter will still look slightly lumpy.
Pour the batter into the greased skillet or pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the center springs back when pressed with a finger.
*If cooking over a campfire, make sure the wood has burned down quite a bit so there are hot coals, and set the skillet on a grate over the fire. The time it takes to cook will depend on the heat of your fire and the distance the skillet is from the coals.
Let cool slightly and cut into wedges or squares. Serve warm. Split each bannock biscuit horizontally and spread with butter as a side dish, or with butter and jam as a breakfast or snack.
Serves 8 to 9.
*Note: The photos in this post are of the gluten-free version. Goods made with gluten-free flour don’t generally brown as well when baked. They taste just as great, though. I’ve made a batch with regular flour, too, and it does turn more golden when baked.
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