Campfire Bannock

The Heritage and Recipes

Taken from boys life november. 1968 page 22

From: (Robert Tortora)

Mix the following in a bowl:

Stir until the shorting has became well dispersed and the texture is even. You now have a six-cup mix which is normally adequate for six individual servings.

Round up six plastic bags. put a cup of mix in each, squeeze out the excess air and seal. store the bags in a cool place. your bannock will keep for weeks. allow about 15 minutes in your meal schedule for preparing and frying bannok. No pots or pans are required for mixing. Just add water to the mix by pressing and squeezing with your hands. ( add a little water at a time just enough to give the mix the consistency of thick dough.

Squeeze the dough out of the bag into the frying pan. Twist the bag from the bottom down, as if you were wringing water from a towel, and you won't waste a drop. Pat the dough with a spatula until it settles to a uniform thickness of about one inch and place the pan over a bed of hot coals, or a wire grill.

Cook the bannok slowly for about five minutes until the bottom side turns a golden brown. With a spatula or fork flip the patty and cook the other side.

The bread is not ready yet. It requires about five minutes more to cook the center. Keep the heat low by holding the pan above the coals and be sure to turn the bread at regular intervals until it becomes firm throughout. If in doubt, test it with a fork or sharp stick.

For more elaborate dishes such as pancakes, muffins or waffles, the mix can be altered by simply beating in one egg per cup of mix and varying the amount of water.

Tasting Canada's Heritage

by Ben Kruser

The Leader, April 1991

Bannock is truly a Canadian food, and making it is an experience every Scout should have. Because our country was settled by many different ethnic groups with varied access to cooking supplies, there does not appear to be one single traditional recipe. Today's recipes provide a more lavish product.

For both the historical purist and camp culinary chef, here is a selection of bannock recipes along with a little history to liven the dinner conversation.

>From the Pioneer Cook

"Flour was a luxury item in the early days of the fur trade. It was used to thicken pemmican style soup, rubbaboo or occasionally to make galettes," writes Beulah Bars in The Pioneer Cook (1980, Detselig Ent. Calgary, Alta.).

"Galette (or gellette) was the name used by the voyagers of the North West Company for an unleavened flour-water biscuit made by baking in a frying pan, or in the ashes of the camp fire.

"The Selkirk Settlers referred to their flour water biscuit as bannock. Eventually bannock became the name accepted and recorded in journals and diaries throughout the western interior of Canada."

By the mid 1800s, the original flour water mixture became more elaborate with the addition of salt, suet, lard, butter, buttermilk, baking soda, or baking powder. Bannock acquired other names, too; bush bread, trail bread, or grease bread.

The traditional way to prepare bannock was to mix the ingredients into a large round biscuit and bake in a frying pan or propped up against sticks by the campfire. The frying pan usually was tilted against a rock so that it slanted towards the fire for part of the baking.

Here are two early Canadian recipes you might try.

Campfire Bannock

Mix dry ingredients thoroughly and stir in enough water to make a thick batter that will pour out level. Mix rapidly with spoon until smooth. Pour into large greased frying pan and set on hot coals. Turn when bottom is brown. Cook until no dough sticks to a sliver of wood poked into the middle.

Red River Bannock

This recipe originated with the Red River settlers. It was cooked in a brick oven or on a hearth. The drippings were probably buffalo fat.

Sift into a large mixing bowl and make a hole in the centre.

Mix together:

Pour gently into the hole, working in the flour around it. Divide the dough into pieces and roll into small biscuits 6-12 mm thick. Set on middle rack of preheated oven (400 degrees F) and bake about 20 minutes, until lightly brown.

Today's Recipes

For modern day campers and explorers, here are some bannock recipes gleaned from several outdoor magazines and club journals.

Barager's Bannock

Mix dry ingredients and work in shortening until mixture feels mealy between the hands. Add liquid and pour into a 20 cm square greased pan or the small skillet in the four man cook kit. Bake 30-40 minutes at 425 degrees F.

When preparing dry ingredients for the trail, use sugar instead of honey. Old time woodsmen warn against splitting hot bannock with a knife. Break it apart or it will be heavy. (Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association, Kanawa Magazine, Spring '90)

Basic Bannock (for 12)

Add ingredients in the order given. Mix (minimally) to drop cookie texture. Pour into medium hot oiled cast iron pan over low coals. Bake until it stiffens and sides leave pan (1/2 hour). Loosen around and under bannock. Take bannock out, flip and cook for another 15-20 min. (Explore Magazine #42, May/June)

"Bannock can be used as a bread, as dumplings or the batter thinned with water or milk and cooked as a pancake or crepe," Carol Hodgins writes in Wanapitei Canoe Trippers Cookbook (Highway Book Shop, Cobalt, Ont.). "You can vary the recipe by using a combination of different flours, such as white, whole wheat, potato or soy. Soy flour increases the protein, but only add a small amount as it is heavy. Or try putting in some cornmeal. The more white flour, the lighter the bannock will be."

Bannock (for 6-8 active canoe trippers)

Mix dry ingredients. Work in shortening with fingertips. Add the water at the campsite, mixing until all the dry ingredients are soft and moist but not sticky. Cook and test with peeled twig for doneness.

Bannock for 9 person trip

Mix with water until stiff and cook (pretty basic instructions, don't you think? Source unknown).

If you would like your kids to experience bannock, but all this mixing is too much for you, buy a box of quick biscuit mix. It's already done for you. Happy eating!

Melvin Larocque's Bannock

Bannock, a simple type of scone, originated in Scotland and was made originally of oatmeal. The first pioneers taught it to the Indians who did not previously have leavened breads and made unleavened breads from corn and nut meals, which were a very minor part of their diet [breads not corn and nuts]. It has spread and adapted from there, with many regional variations.

It was cooked in pioneer days in cast iron frying pans over open fires. Toutons use a similar dough where small rings are deep fried like doughnuts. Variations in flours and the addition of dried or fresh fruit make this bread a popular choice of hunters and campers today. Oven baking has become an alternative to the cast iron frying pan when made at home. The dough can also be wrapped around green de-barked sticks driven into the ground beside the camp fire.

* Melted shortening, butter or margarine can be used but the taste will be altered. Lard is traditional.

Measure flour, salt, baking powder [and dried fruit and sugar] into large bowl. Stir to mix. Make a well in the center and pour melted lard and water into the flour mixture. Stir with fork to make a ball. Turn out onto a working surface. Knead gently about 10 times. Do not over work the dough and let the gluten develop. Pat into a flat circle 1 inch thick. Cook in a greased frying pan over medium heat allowing 15 minutes each side. Use two lifters for easy turning. Serve hot with butter. Break it off in chunks or slice into wedges with a knife. May also be baked on greased baking sheet at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes.

This tastes best in a frying pan outdoors over a wood fire.


  1. Substitute 1 cup whole wheat flour and/or 1/2 cup oatmeal for up to 1 1/2 cups of white flour.
  2. Add fresh fruit instead of dried.