Bread Project: Bannock

13 02 2011

This past Tuesday at The Bread Project we made Bannock, actually frybread, a bread associated with our First Nations people of Canada. What I didn’t know is that Bannock was originally made from oats and originates from Scotland. The Scots being the first to farm wheat in Canada. Charlotte shared her mom’s recipe for bannock and the techniques her mom passed on to her. Watching her, I imagined the technique and basic ingredients on the plains of Alberta. We learned that as the bison became less plentiful and the First Nation’s people were made to stay on reserves, instead of following the herds of animals in their traditional nomadic lifestyles, bannock became a staple. A survival food. Made from the rations provided to them by the government.

There is so much we don’t understand about our First Nations people. Many Canadians easily place judgement on them and never go beyond the surface to ask why so many of them struggle in our society. We have made many displacing decisions in regards to the First Nations people in Canada. The reserves,  residential schools and policies that undermine their success. Although with many hectares of land, wheat farming and ranching is not a leading economy for many of them. Government policies have made it difficult for them to establish farming practices, lack of access to equipment and technology in years past as well.

This Bread Project day was well timed, I had just finished reading the book Bad Medicine: A Judge’s Struggle in a First Nations Community. Judge John Reilly is a Calgary judge that saw first hand the results of our poor decisions over the previous centuries. He spoke out while a judge and continues to share his opinions and case work to shift our thinking about our native Canadians. I highly recommend this book. As a Canadian I think it is imperative that we understand our nations first settlers. I myself have been ignorant to their plight and through understanding have gained much respect. It will take generations to turn the tide and I’d like to be of the generation that begins this shift.

Making Bannock is so easy, it’s ridiculous. Give it a try. I can’t wait to make it this summer and toast it over an open fire like I did when I went to camp as a kid.






6 cups all purpose flour (makes about 8-12)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp baking powder
3¼ cups of water
1/3 lb melted lard or vegetable shortening for frying (Carrie, of Cree descent in our Bread group, said she makes frybread using olive oil instead, I like this healthier version)

  • Add the flour, baking powder and salt to a mixing bowl, mix well
  • Make a large shallow well in the middle of the flour
  • Add the water to the well
  • Mixing with your hands, gently fold the dough over, taking flour from the edges, incorporating it until the dough is not sticky. There might be flour around the edges left, leave this, you can add more water after you use the dough up and make more
  • Tear off small balls of dough, like the size of a large plum, and gently tuck or fold into rounds, place them down in the bowl, continue this with the rest of the dough so you are left with dough rounds in the bowl
  • Let the dough rounds sit a few minutes to rise while you heat a deep fry pan with lard or vegetable shortening over medium-high heat
  • Flatten out the dough rounds to about 10-12 cm wide and about 1-2 cm thick.
  • Place the flattened dough rounds into the hot oil, they will puff up a little, when the edges are browned, flip them over.
  • Serve with jam, as a side to soup or with breakfast

Eat Well, Be Well