Sunday 2 October 2022

The Great Bread Making Adventure: Barley Bannock

As promised, I made bannock. I just didn't get it made on Friday, Canada's National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. I was too busy working on a quilt. So, this morning for breakfast, I had beans and bannock. I ground the barley in the grain grinder and started the beans in the slow cooker last night. The beans were ready this morning, just needed to add some salt and garlic. Then cooked up the Barley Bannock recipe from The World Encyclopedia of Bread and Bread Making  

It tuned out fine, but I really don't know what went wrong with the recipe. In the instructions, #3 says, "On a floured surface pat the dough out to form a round about 2cm/¾ in thick. Mark the dough into 4 wedges, using a sharp knife, if you prefer." My dough was more the consistency of batter and if I had tried to form it into a round on the counter, I would have ended up with a sticky mess on both my hands and the counter. And forget about trying to mark it into wedges... I just dumped the batter into the skillet and spread it out with the fork I had mixed it with. It worked. I checked and double checked the ingredients and amounts several times and I did not make any mistakes. The only thing I can think of is that maybe there was a lot of moisture in my barley flour. Although, I don't think this should have made that significant a difference. Maybe next time I will weigh the ingredients instead. 
The recipe calls for cream of tartar. Hmm, I don't think I've seen that since my childhood. I couldn't find it in my regular grocery store (No Frills), nor in Walmart, but finally found it in the Co-op. Otherwise, I would have had to figure out how to substitute the baking soda and cream of tartar with baking powder. I spent over $7 for a small jar! To replace the butter, I used Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, which is also not cheap, but I happened to have some in my freezer.
The book has this to say about bannock: 

"Bannock" is an Old English word of Celtic origin and was probably the first word used to describe bread, as long ago as the 5th century AD... It generally describes a type of flat, scone-like bread and in Scotland the two words "bannock" and "scone" are used interchangeably. Bannocks were originally unleavened breads, made with barley or oatmeal and cooked on a griddle. p. 54

"It is conventionally believed that Scottish fur traders called Selkirk settlers introduced bannock to the Indigenous peoples of North America during the 18th and 19th centuries... While bannock has its roots in Europe, some Indigenous nations in North America had versions of unleavened bread-like foods." This is from the online Canadian Encyclopedia article "Bannock". Read the whole article if you're interested in more of bannock's history in Canada and its association with indigenous people. 

I will now return to making Italian breads. The recipe for Focaccia calls for two 10" round, shallow cake or pizza pans. I couldn't find any. I found 9" cake pans and some 11" pans, which I assume were pizza/flatbread pans because of their low sides. But no ten inch. I do have a 10 inch Pyrex pie plate, and a 10" springform cake pan, which is definitely not shallow, so I don't think either of those will work. I haven't decided what I will end up using. I don't want to waste a lot of time running around looking for something, nor spend a lot of money that I'm not likely to use regularly. Still pondering...

UPDATE: In the interest of full disclosure, and your tastebuds, I decided I needed to update this post. When I first made the bannock and tasted it fresh, I did notice a metallic taste, but didn't consider it that significant and tried to shrug it off. Until I tasted it the next day. I reheated a piece in the microwave and couldn't finish the whole thing. I found the metallic taste so revolting! Could it be the cream of tartar? Why would people use that stuff when it tasted so horrible? Could it be one of those genetic things like cilantro, where only a small percentage of the population know how disgusting it is? I googled and found this: "It has a tinny, metallic taste..." (Taken from "What is Cream of Tartar", Cooking Clarified). So, now I will have to figure out how to substitute baking powder in the recipes that call for cream of tartar. And I guess I will be making a lot of play dough in order to use up my expensive jar. I have no intention of putting anything that revolting in my mouth again. 

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