The Scots certainly love their oats and for good reason – oats is low in fat, fibre-rich and high in energy.
An Englishman observing a Scotsman settling down to his breakfast of oats porridge said scathingly, “Why do you Scots eat oats – in England we feed that stuff to the horses.”
The Scotsman looked up and said mildly, “That’s why in England you have such fine horses and in Scotland we have such fine men.”
Bannocks can be made with or without oats – the idea was taken across the Atlantic from the Old World to the New, and in Canada they become popular but are made without oats.
In the past, the Scots used no raising agent so it was a pretty dense type of biscuit like bread, which could serve as sustenance on the Highlanders journeys.
The ingredients could also be transported with them and cooked on a hot stone placed in front of an open fire. Bannocks will make an ideal addition to your survival recipes, and provide a great outdoor camping treat.
Scottish Bannock Recipes will Vary
Each Scottish housewife would have had her own tweak on a recipe for making bannocks, and depending on what you decide to add they can vary in taste and texture.
Buttermilk, for example, will alter the texture slightly by making your Bannocks a bit softer than regular milk.
Traditionally, Bannocks were made using lard, milk, salt, and sugar. The advent of social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, means the amount of variety in the recipes has grown substantially.
Some people make a flattish Bannock bread, baking it in the oven and cutting it into wedges to serve. Others make their oatcakes using oatmeal rather than rolled oats.
The texture is something between a scone if you use rolled oats and a biscuit if you use oatmeal. Some recipes call for the addition of goose fat or bacon fat, some use only oatmeal while others use a combination of flour and rolled oats or oatmeal.
You can make bannock bread in a Dutch oven over the coals or on a skillet over the fire or stove. Especially when in survival situations and when out camping I believe the fastest way to make them that uses the least energy is best.
This recipe uses a cast iron skillet and, for convenience, the bannocks are shaped into small scones and placed on the skillet – so they cook within a few minutes, making for an instant breakfast.
If you don’t have a skillet, you can use a griddle or a frying pan to make your Bannocks.
You can choose to add 1/3 cup of sugar or leave the sugar out. For these I omitted the sugar as some were being served with egg and some left over Kassler chop from the BBQ the evening before:
Some we served with butter and honey and others with jam – there is more than enough sweetness in the jam and honey without adding sugar to the dough. You could even serve them like tea scones with cream and strawberry or raspberry jam:
What makes this recipe unique and gives softness to the texture of these bannocks is the additional of double cream yogurt, so they are more like scones.
You can easily make more of the mix if you have a group of people to feed – while the first set of six bannocks is cooking whip up the next batch, and the next, to feed however many people are in your campsite or around the breakfast or lunch table.
If you want, to you can leave the yogurt out and simply use more water, but then they will be slightly denser.
Scottish Oat Cakes Recipe
- 1 cup bread flour you can also use plain flour, whole-wheat flour, and/or oatmeal flour
- 1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup rolled oats – not instant oats
- 1/3 cup butter melted
- pinch of salt you may omit this if the butter you use is salted or if you are on a low salt diet
- 1/3 cup plain double cream yogurt
- ½ cup water
- In a medium size mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients: flour, oats, baking powder and salt.
- Pour in the melted butter.
- Work through with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly.
- Add the yogurt and ¼ cup of water.
- Using a wooden spoon, mix/stir until just combined – if you need you can add more water but the dough should not be sticky.
- Gently shape the dough into 6 scone shapes around ½ to ¾ of an inch high using your fingers.
- The skillet should be preheated with the oil over a medium-low heat. Place the bannocks in the skillet and allow to cook for around 3 to 4 minutes before turning over.
- Split and serve with butter either with an egg and bacon breakfast or with a sweet topping.
- Indigenous tribes in North America may have had their own versions before they encountered Europeans.
- The Navajo name is Baah dah diniilghaazhh which translates as ‘bread that bubbles’
- Before encountering Europeans, the Native American tribes used corn and/or nut meal to make their versions of Bannocks.
As a child I wanted to grow up and marry a farmer… simply because it was so different from my life right on the shores of the ocean. Well, I didn’t marry a farmer but a surfer instead. The urge, however, to grow stuff and make great food for a big family never left. We are on acreage with a sea view and easy access to fresh caught crayfish and other seafood – the best of both worlds. As an artist and writer I enjoy creating new recipes, tweaking traditional ones, and sharing the results not only with family and friends, but online.