Friday, August 7, 2015

Métis Celebration Bannock

It's not often that I get to embrace my paternal history - in the kitchen or otherwise. My dad's family is half Métis (a mixture of Native North American and usually French European ancestry), but during grandpa's time Native background was something to hide, not celebrate. As such, the family's status was never claimed and, while I'm sure we wouldn't be shunned from gatherings like potlach or circles, we don't have a true "tie" to the community. Instead, I embrace my heritage from the sidelines, learning what I can from books, television and the internet and sharing aspects that I find interesting with those around me.

At Summer Camp this year, we had a themed week of "food from around the world ", and I took the opportunity to share this aspect of Canadian culture with the kids. Now, bannock is not a specifically Native bread, and is certainly not exclusive to Métis culture. However, it is one of the world's "bush breads" and is definitely something that makes for great eating when camping, preferably warm with butter or maple syrup on top. This particular recipe - hailing from a Native American cookbook I bought years ago - is geared towards appreciating Summer bounty with the addition of fresh wild (or cultivated) blueberries, cornmeal and the last of the Spring's dark, rich maple syrup. Unlike "traditional" bannock, which is either fried (a la beignets) or cooked on a stick over the fire, I baked a pan of this, adding a touch of smoked salt for the "campfire" aspect. While I would not ever call this a sweet bread, it is definitely a breakfasty type of food that is ideal for serving with eggs or peameal back bacon. If you do want more of a sweet flavour, though, 2-3 tbsp of (maple) sugar to the flour mixture will do the trick nicely!

Blueberry Bannock Bread

Métis Celebration Bannock
Makes one 9x13" pan, 16 squares
3 cups flour
2 ½ cups barley flour
1/3 cup rolled oats
¼ cup fine cornmeal
3 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp smoked salt
2 tbsp canola oil (I actually used a blend of canola and camelina oil - 1 tbsp of each)
3 tbsp maple syrup (ideally Grade B) or buckwheat honey
2 ¼ cups water
1 cup blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a 9x13” pan with parchment or greased foil.
  2. Mix together flours, oats, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Stir in the oil, maple syrup and water until a thick dough forms. Stir in the blueberries.
  4. Knead in the bowl for about 1 minute, until the dough is not too sticky. It does not need to be perfectly smooth.
  5. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes. The bread should be slightly brown and springy to the touch.
  7. Turn out onto a cutting board or cooling rack and slice while still warm.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 194.9
Total Fat: 2.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 10.6 mg
Total Carbs: 38.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.3 g
Protein: 4.8 g

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