The sourness of the jewel-like cranberries works so well with the buttermilk dough of traditional Scottish bannocks, I just can’t stop eating them!
Bannocks are essentially girdle scones, a type of soda bread cooked on the stove top. They are most commonly served plain – perfect with soup or stews, or cheese – but fruity versions are also made, usually with raisins.
I made a batch with dried cranberries over the weekend, after buying a big tub of Shetland buttermilk, and they were so good I just had to share them with you! Mind you, any excuse to plaster something with butter is my idea of heaven!
We visited a restored water mill in southern Shetland last week. The Quendale Water Mill used to mill locally grown grain for flour and – as an enthusiastic home-baker – it was interesting to see the process in this fabulous old building.
Wheat wasn’t grown in Shetland so the mill ground oats, an ancient grain called bere (that apparently is having a revival) and barley. We learnt that the quality of bread sent up to Shetland during World War II was so poor it was inedible so crofters brought their grain down to the mill and the resulting bannocks made from the flour got the people through the difficult years of the war.
Hoorah for bannocks!
Makes 8 bannocks
- 50 g dried cranberries
- 250 g plain flour plus a little extra rolling out
- 2 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 2 tsp vegetable oil or sunflower oil
- 150 ml (approx) buttermilk
Chop the dried cranberries into small pieces and set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl then stir in the chopped dried cranberries and the oil.
Add two-thirds of the buttermilk and begin to gently bring the dough together with your hands adding more buttermilk until you get a soft, non-sticky dough. Try not to overwork the dough though or it will make the bannocks tough.
Divide the dough in half, form each half into a rough ball. Flatten one and roll out on a lightly floured surface into a circle about 1 cm thick.
I rolled out on my silicon mat so I didn’t use flour – trying to keep my tiny van kitchen tidy! – using flour makes the bannocks look more authentic however.
Cut the disc into 4 triangular pieces.
Heat a dry drying pan over a low to medium heat. Cook the bannocks without oil for a few minutes on each side. Keep the heat low to prevent them burning and to cook the insides.
They should rise to double their rolled out thickness. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Cool on a wire rack.
These cranberry bannocks are delicious split and buttered, any leftovers the next day can be lightly toasted under the grill.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my Shetland-inspired bannock recipe. Have you eaten a bannock?
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