Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Baked Bannock - A Hands on Pioneer Activity

Also on the table, next to what we are now calling a grease lamp, at the Old Trail Museum was another item that caught our attention.  This time, it was not because it was oddly named (although I'm pretty sure they spelled it wrong, and mislabeled it as "hardtack", which it is not - but who am I to argue with the museum people, maybe they know something I don't), but because it looked like it might be something we could eat... least, if we mixed up a batch, at home, ourselves.

Originating in Scotland (the name coming from the Gaelic bhannag, bannach, or bonnach), bannock was adopted into North American Native American culture, becoming fry bread.

There are a number of different variations on the recipe, but basically, it is just a biscuit type bread mix - consisting of flour, salt, baking powder, and water, kneaded together, and fried in a skillet with bacon grease.

I'm imaging an old mountain man frying up a serving of bacon, plopping some of the dough into the still hot grease, to make a biscuit, and then scooping it up, adding a little more flour and water to the pan, for biscuits, bacon and gravy (we have to try that too).

It can however, also be baked in an oven (or for that matter, wrapped on a stick and roasted over a camp fire - another method we would like to try).

We found a child-friendly, oven baked bannock recipe, provided by Chief Earl Old Person of the Blackfeet Nation, on

According to the chief, his people traditionally enjoy the bread with a meal of fried beef roast and potatoes, and chokecherry jelly, washed down with coffee or peppermint tea.

We cut the recipe in half, added a tablespoon of sugar (because we could), and enjoyed our bannock warm, with blackberry jelly and lemon curd.

To learn more about bannock bread click to:

Or check out these picture and project books for young audiences:


  1. Your bannock looks so good, and I love your selection of books. Can I come join you for fun summer schooling...I seem to have lost my teaching mojo and want to go back to being a child :)

  2. It looks rather tasty! I often wondered about pioneer recipes - it must have been really hard to be a Kosher pioneer, since so many dishes require bacon...

  3. Natalie - I can only assume they ate mutton in place of pork, and used the sheep or beef for tallow instead of pigs. I did come across an interesting article about a farming community of Jewish-Russian immigrants in Colorado ( It was kind of interesting.

  4. My Dad used to mix up something similar to that when I was a kid, though I hadn't heard the name of it until now. Used it to sop up bacon grease. You have brought a smile to my face, remembering him in the kitchen.

  5. Huh..... we made hardtack, now I want to try this. I hadn't thought of it becoming fry bread...