Campfire bread, also known as ‘bannock’, is a lot of fun to make and share. Lightly crispy on the outside, soft and warm on the inside, this simple bread is a delicious outdoor treat. You can choose to make is savory or sweet, depending on whether you want to add chopped fresh herbs, cocoa powder, or other seasonings to the dough.
There are countless variations of recipes for bannock, though modern bannock is commonly made of flour, water, baking powder, some type of fat or oil, and seasonings. Many sources say that bannock originated in Scotland and was introduced to indigenous people of North America by Scottish fur traders. This type of bread is prized for its simplicity and ability to provide warm nourishment for outdoor meals. It tastes great with meat, beans, soup, or just on its own as a snack.
I adapted the recipe below from the summer 2019 issue of Mountain Life Magazine, which we picked up when we were on vacation in the Blue Mountains area of Canada last summer. We’ve made this campfire bread several times, and it is truly such an enjoyable process and end result. While many recipes for bannock call for making a flat bread, this one creates a delicious twist as you wrap the dough around a stick and cook it over the embers of a fire, creating a fluffy, soft, flavorful bread.
With Memorial Day weekend coming up and then the arrival of summer, there will be many chances for cookouts. Depending on what happens with the pandemic, our cookouts may be limited to at-home with just our immediate family, as they have been this spring. Or maybe it will be safe to branch out a bit, when our stay-at-home order is lifted. In any case, sitting around a fire and cooking bread (and then eating it!) is a relaxing way to spend an evening.
We made this campfire bread with my family on a sunny evening last week, and it was part of a simple, satisfying dinner. I took out a plate of sliced meats, cheese, and fruit, and we broke pieces of the warm bread right off the stick and popped them in our mouths. It was a group effort, and there is something soothing and nourishing about working together to create this ancient food together. Plus, food just tastes better outdoors, in the fresh air.
Despite the difficulties of coping with the quarantine and all the worries associated with Covid-19, there have been some really memorable times this spring, and I am so thankful for the quiet times spent with my family. It is the paring down to the basics, the stripping away so much of what we are used to, that is both difficult and at the same time, poignant and beautiful. Wishing you all safety and good health!
Campfire Bread Twists
- 2 and 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 cup of water
- seasonings (optional): a pinch of chopped fresh basil, oregano, or rosemary, or a pinch of cocoa powder and cinnamon
Directions: Prepare the dough: In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. Add the oil and your chosen seasonings. Stir in the water a little bit at a time, until a dough forms. Gradually keep adding the water until the dough is firm and elastic, and not sticky, kneading the dough until it is smooth. If the dough is too sticky, knead in more flour. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
While the dough is resting, if you haven’t already got a stick picked out, find a good, sturdy stick. We found the best size to be between the size of 2 and 3 fingers thick, and long enough to reach safely to the fire. Scrape as much bark off the stick as you can.
When the dough is done resting, form the dough into a sausage shape, rolling it with your hands, until it is about 2-3 fingers thick. Wrap the dough around your stick. You can also divide the dough in half and do two different sticks or two separate cooking sessions if that’s easier to manage, as we did for the photos in this post.
As for the fire, this works best when the flames are dying down but the embers are still hot, similar to when you would want to roast marshmallows. Hold the stick over the hot embers, (not in the flame) rotating every so often. The exact timing is hard to define, as it is different depending on the heat of the fire and the thickness of your dough twist. The bread is done when it is golden brown and cooked all the way through, about 10 to 15 minutes. Also, it should slide easily off of the stick. If it sticks, cook it a bit longer. Slide the bread off of the stick, or break pieces off, and enjoy!
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