It has been a while since I reported back on my kitchen odyssey – exploring various breads and my own Baking Bucket List. That’s mainly because it has been a considerable time since I tackled anything new. Today seemed like a good day, now that I have all my entries for the annual Show packed and ready for submission.
I was looking at the Baking classes for the Show and wondering if I might have time to whip something up. It is not all that easy – some of the classes have the recipe specified and I don’t care for the recipes; I am not going to be incorporating margarine or semolina into any Bakewell Tart that I make, I can tell you! Some of the classes require ingredients that I do not have to hand. Other classes are for baked goods that I have had no experience of making. That seems like a good place to start.
We are having soup for lunch today; I’m making a broccoli and cheese soup and would normally bake bread rolls to go with it. Today I am going to make Bere Bannocks.
Bere is an ancient form of Barley, still grown in the Northern Isles. It is a six-row barley and is adapted for the shorter growing season up here – sometimes it is known as “90 Day Barley”.
A Bannock is a simple bread dough, baked on a griddle in a round. Formerly it was unleavened but modern bannocks use non-yeasted raising agents.
I have a couple of challenges in this foray into the Orcadian kitchen. The first is that I have yet to meet a Bere Bannock, or any form of Bannock in fact. They are a mystery to me. I have no notion of how they should look or taste. I should have paid more attention to this class at past Shows.
The second problem is that Googling is no help at all. Opinions vary as to the basics of the recipe and the proportion of Beremeal to Wheat flour. The wetting agent also varies but is commonly slightly acidic as the one thing that recipes appear to agree on is the raising agents: Bicarbonate of Soda and Cream of Tartar. Cooking methods also vary from straight griddle baking to cooking under a grill or browning on the griddle pan first, then baking. One recipe that I found went all out for the oven bake. Lastly, there is the issue of size – some suggest a bannock that looks akin to an oatcake (not the Staffordhire kind) whilst others would have their bannocks resembling soda farls in size and thickness.
Oh, I recalled a third potential problem: I am not sure how old my Beremeal is or if it is still fit for use. I recall buying some with a plan to try bannocks, and it’s at the back of the cupboard somewhere…
OK. If the Beremeal is still in good condition, I am going to try a mix of 2:1 Beremeal to plain flour and I shall bake on my griddle pan. Mr L refuses to relinquish his last bottle of stout, so I am going to use yoghurt (let down with some skimmed milk as my yoghurt is very thick and creamy) for my wetting agent.