Last year Fay (of The Wind and the Wellies) told me about beremeal, made from grinding an ancient form of Barley that has been grown in Scotland since around 2000BC. Fay very kindly offered to send me some together with some recipes. Needless to say I took her up on her offer, and finally got around to trying out one of the recipes last week – Bere Bannocks:
70g/2 ½ oz beremeal
70g/2 ½ oz self-raising flour
1 level teaspoon bicarbonte of soda
1 rounded teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
- Put a frying pan or flat griddle on to heat, lightly oiled. The recipe says “a steady heat”, which I took to mean low to medium
- Mix the beremeal and flour, bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the oil then enough cold water to combine to a soft dough (about 150 ml/ 5 fl oz/¼ pint)
- Tip on to a board/work surface dusted with a little beremeal and shape gently into a bannock shape: a round about 15-17 cm/6-6½” diameter and about 2.25 cm/¾-1″ thick (it puffs up as it cooks). Use a very light touch and do not knead
- Put on to the griddle and cook, without poking or touching for 5 minutes, and then turn and continue to cook for 4 minutes. Both top and bottom will be scorched all over with golden brown.
- Remove and place on a wire rack, loosely cover with a tea towel to keep the top soft. The recipe says “tempting though it is to devour it hot, leave until cold before splitting and spreading with a little butter”. We did actually manage this – just.
According to Fay’s recipe, Bere Bannocks are traditionally eaten with oily fish such as herring or with Orkney cheese, but are also excellent with anchovies or fish paté. I can vouch for them being excellent with smoked salmon, strong cheddar, stilton, just butter… The reason there is no photo of one cut open to reveal the lovely light interior is because we ate them – I made two, partly because I slightly scorched the first – far too quickly!
These are wonderfully quick and easy to make, wonderfully quick and easy to eat, and are now a firm household favourite. Next to try, Bere chappatis, just because that sounds so incongruous, and thanks to Damo I have discovered Madhur Jaffrey’s Madras Curry. I’ll let you know how I get on…