Bannock is a variety of flat quick bread or any large, round article baked or cooked from grain. When a round bannock is cut into wedges, the wedges are often called scones. However, in Scotland the words bannock and scone are often used interchangeably
"Bannock" is a Northern English and Scottish word of Celtic origin. The Oxford English Dictionary states the term stems from panicium, a Latin word for "baked dough", or from panis, meaning bread. It was first referred to, as "bannuc," in early glosses to the 8th century author Aldhelm and its first cited definition in 1562. Its historic use was primarily in Ireland, Scotland and Northern England. The Scottish poet Robert Burns mentions bannock in his Epistle to James Tennant of Glenconner.
Bannock varieties can be named or differentiated according to various characteristics: the flour or meal from which they are made, whether they are leavened or not, whether they have certain special ingredients, how they are baked or cooked, and the names of rituals or festivals in which they are used. Historically, specially made bannocks were used in rituals marking the changing of the Gaelic seasons: St Bride's bannock for spring (February 1), Bealtaine bannock for summer (May 1), Lughnasadh or Lammas bannock for autumn harvests (August 1), and Samhain bannock for winter (end of October). Other special Scottish and Gaelic bannocks include beremeal bannock, bride's bannock, cod liver bannock, cryin' bannock, fallaid bannock, fife bannock, Hogmanay bannock, Marymas bannock, mashlum bannock, Michaelmas Bannock, pease bannock, Pitcaithly bannock, salt bannock, sautie bannock, Silverweed bannock, St Columba's bannock, teethin' bannock, Yetholm bannock, and Yule bannock. In the north of England, bannocks are often made using pastry rather than a bread dough.
A well-known Scottish bannock is the Selkirk Bannock, named after the town in the Scottish borders where it is traditionally made. It is a spongy, buttery variety, sometimes compared to a fruitcake, made from wheat flour and containing a very large quantity of raisins. The first known maker of this variety was a baker named Robbie Douglas, who opened his shop in Selkirk in 1859. When Queen Victoria visited Sir Walter Scott's granddaughter at Abbotsford she is reputed to have taken her tea with a slice of Selkirk Bannock, thus ensuring that its reputation was enshrined forever.Today, Selkirk Bannocks are popular throughout Great Britain, and can be found at most large supermarkets.
A well-known Irish bannock is the Wheaten Bannock , which is a sweetened wholemeal soda bread
Indigenous North Americans
Bannock, muqpauraq,skaan (or scone), or Indian bread, is found throughout North American Native cuisine, including that of the Inuit of Canada and Alaska, other Alaska Natives, the First Nations of the rest of Canada, the Native Americans in the United States, and the Métis.
A type of bannock, using available resources, such as flour made from maize, roots, tree sap and leavening agents, may have been produced by indigenous North Americans prior to contact with outsiders, similar to modern cornbread. Some sources indicate that bannock was unknown in North America until the 1860s when it was created by the Navajo who were incarcerated at Fort Sumner, while others indicate that it came from a Scottish source.
As made by Indigenous North Americans, bannock is generally prepared with white or whole wheat flour, baking powder, sugar, lard and water or milk, which are combined and kneaded (possibly with spices, dried fruits or other flavouring agents added) then fried in rendered fat, vegetable oil, or shortening, baked in an oven or cooked on a stick.
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when Scottish bannock first appeared in Canada, but there is evidence that it played an important role in providing sustenance for the young Scottish and French Fur Traders who arrived here to make their fortunes.
Bannock is mentioned in the journals of both The Hudson Bay Company and Northwest Company traders, as well as those of early explorers dating back to the early nineteenth century. Known by various names and spellings including, bannock, bannaq, galette, and galette de michif, it was made of wheat flour, water and sometimes fat, unlike the bannock in Scotland which was made mostly of oats or barley. While bannock was referred to in many historical papers, it is often stated that flour was not easily procured. At Fort Chippewyan, a trading fort alternatively operated by the Hudson’s Bay and Northwest Company in Northern Alberta, the issue of food supply was all-consuming. Whether made with or without fat, bannock was highly prized.
More than a ‘treat’, bannock was the mainstay of the diets of explorers, fur traders and voyageurs, the young French men who paddled the fur traders in their canoes across the west. And it was the ultimate comfort food to the fur traders, voyageurs and early settlers of Western Canada.