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

  1. 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
  2. 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)
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
First Side
Second Side

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…

29 thoughts on “Bread of the Day: Bere Bannocks

  1. Superb timing Janet, will do this recipe tomorrow but I’m planning on ‘filling’ it with bacon, chorizo, and garlic butter. Fantastic!!

    1. Mark, that is truly atrocious! And very descriptive – I nearly added a photo of the burnt one, but decided to spare my blushes. Mind you, FIL nicked it and took it work and devoured the lot!

  2. This post should carry a government health warning ~ not to be read before breakfast :) Mmmmmm ………..

    1. No no, that’s perfect timing, would be lovely with scrambled egg…

    1. Excellent, glad I am not alone in loving anchovies! Have a great weekend Mike, its actually sunny here so I will be heading to the allotment.

  3. Hey I’m so chuffed you did this – it looks just like a local Orkney one!!!!

    They are yummy – I do like them with a bit of cheese :) we’ve alot of good local cheeses to go for up here.

    Brilliant Janet – well done!!!!!

    Its really low in gluten too and I think its got lots of good properties for health – great job!

    Too windy here to garden today (drat the seeds are calling) I’ve not succumbed yet – but am wildly looking around at all the house plants I can take cuttings off and pop into a bit of the black stuff.

    :) glad you enjoyed the flour! xx

    1. Glad to hear it looks authentic – and thank you again for introducing me to Beremeal, really tasty. Good luck resisting the siren call of the seeds. Its getting very hard now, I keep getting emails telling me I should be sowing X Y Z NOW! Happy cutting taking.

  4. Dear Janet, What an intriguing receipt and Beremeal is something I have never heard of before. I am sure that your Bannocks tasted delicious and yes, I can well imagine that all your list of possible accompaniments, including the Anchovies, would be perfect.

    1. Hello Edith. Its my favourite sort of recipe, very easy, very tasty, and slightly different from the run-of-the-mill (no pun intended!)

  5. I’ve never heard of beremeal but it sounds like it’s probably good for you which is great. Good tasting and healthy. you can’t go wrong.

    1. Hi Marguerite, I know, delicious AND healthy! Doesn’t happen often enough!

  6. I’d make this if for no other reason than the name and the history behind it! It reminds me a little of our American johnnycake, which is made, though, with cornmeal instead of barley meal.

    Love your promises of spring in the last post!

    1. I agree, the history does make it even more appealing, though having just eaten it for lunch with Olive tapenade, I don’t need any extra reasons! Glad you enjoyed the signs of Spring – it is pouring down here now, thoroughly miserable, and Spring seems months away.

  7. Janet, your experimenting with Scottish food may soon include, mince and tatties, haggis neeps and tatties with a dram of whisky to wash it down. Forget about cod at the chipper, have a fish supper with haddock instead, please don’t try the deep fried mars bar, actually I have never met anyone who did. Oh, and an Aberdeen morning rowie, lovely ask Terry Wogan. Anchovies, sorry, disgusting and slimy.

    1. Always happy to wash pretty much anything down with a dram of single malt, always ask for haddock at the chippie, and even after a heavy night down the pub in Edinburgh never succumbed to the fried mars bar phenomena – though plenty of my fellow boozers did… As to the anchovies, hey, more for me!

  8. Thanks for this recipe! I just came back from visiting the Orkneys and Shetlands, armed with a bag of bere meal just begging to be made into bannocks! Just tried them and they are delish!

    1. Excellent! I am slightly envious, both that you have visited the Orkneys and that you have beremeal – I just used the last of mine :-(

  9. I was wondering about that… Can you get bere meal anywhere online or in stores? I was unsuccessful so far in finding any online :-(. Will have to savor every bite of bere bannock I make!

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