Bringing the Early Iron Age to Life

Bannocks of barley (and oat)

Well, the visiting King didn’t steal me away, have me imprisoned, or executed. I’ve just been a bit busy around the farmstead. The days are so much shorter now, but I know the Solstice is coming. I have got to get the charms ready and in place so as to ensure that the sun will return! The winter solstice is a bit more scary here than the summer solstice – mainly because we won’t see the sun very much (if at all!) on Solstice Day. The days are so dim and true dark comes so very early in the day, after leaving so late in the mornings.

Still, the animals have to be tended, no matter the weather or lighting…but I swear, even they don’t like to go out much. It’s almost as if they feel a presence that menaces them. It’s not true, mind you, but the animals that we have still seem to spook easier.

I’m glad that I have enough stores put by, and my bannocks this morning, for some reason, were exceptionally tasty. Perhaps it’s because I added some oat flour to the barley flour – not so much to stretch out the barley, but because I like the nutty flavor the oat flour gives them.

So, here is my preferred recipe – for those interested (given in mundane terms).

  • 1 cup barley flour
  • 3/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1/2 cup milk

Mix the flour and salt together, cut in the butter and work until crumbly. I work this by hand, making sure to reduce all the lumps of butter as much as possible. Then, add the milk (your choice as to fast or slow), mix into the flour/butter until all is wet. The dough is quite sticky, which is what I found to be the best consistency.

Heat your cooking stone/skillet (on low heat), then turn out your dough onto a lightly floured surface. You can then either press it down into a flat-ish circle, or lightly flour a rolling pin and roll it out to about 1/4″ thickness. Mark an X (or into 8s) with something (mundanely, I use a chopstick). Transfer the bannock to the skillet. Generally, cook each side for 15 minutes. If your heat is too high, you’ll start to smell “burning popcorn”, if that happens, lower the heat and flip it over to cook the other side.

When done, put butter on them, if you like. They go well with honey or jam/preserves – but you do want to eat them fresh for the best flavor. Enjoy!

What are your thoughts?

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