Bannock: A Breakfast Bread From A Burnt Cake
Image Credit: Bannock for breakfast

The Scottish like their bread as much as the English do, but only in a specific way when it comes to breakfast. Bannock is what they call it. Bannock originates from the Latin word panicum, which refers to a grain similar to millets. The name is appropriate for the bread because it is typically made of oats and occasionally barley or wheat flour.

For the uninitiated, bannock is an unleavened, flat, oval-shaped bread that can be baked, pan-fried, or deep-fried. The basic ingredients for making bannock consist of water, flour, and fat. Generally made with pea meal, oatmeal, or barely, wheat flour was introduced much later. The bread is crispy, brown, and round in shape; it is cooked on a bannock stone. Milk and sugar are also added while making the dough these days.

While there are many adaptations of bannock that have taken place till date, the most rudimentary form was introduced by the Scottish fur traders to the North Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries, from where it spread to several parts of Europe and Canada. A carbohydrate-rich meal that is quick to make was easily adopted by other cultures, but the roots of bannock still lie in Scotland.

There is a famous tale that points to the origins of this breakfast bread in Europe. It is said that King Alfred took shelter in a cottage as a common man during his battle with the Danes. During this time, he was given the task of attending to the bread while it was being baked in the oven. That’s when he faltered and ended up burning the cakes, for which he was reprimanded.

Bannocks are not only for breakfast, but they can also be associated with special days and festivals when certain types of bannocks were prepared. There was also a belief that mixing the batter for the bread in an anti-clockwise direction would attract bad luck. Today, not just the Scots but the Canadians love their bannock too, so much so that you’ll find an egg, bacon, and pork-stuffed bannock sandwich donning their breakfast table very often.