Bannock is a traditional native bread that's been around for hundreds of years. It's also a good recipe to make over a campfire - here's how I make my bannock recipe!
I’ve been making my bannock bread recipe since I was a kid, though it has morphed a bit over the years.
I first learned to make it in grade school, as we learned about First Nations history.
Bannock is a type of bread - an unleavened bread - that the Indigenous peoples of North America would make in the old days - and still do!
Reconnecting with my family’s Ojibwe heritage ended up being kind of a running theme of this trip, so this seems like a great recipe for a blog post, while still on the road.
It's a yeast free bread - almost a biscuit - that is simple and easy to make just about anywhere. No stand mixer needed for this quick bread, all you really need is a bowl, your hands, and a heat source.
While I learned to make it in an oven, historically it was made over an open fire - either in a pan or wrapped around a stick.
When not camping, you can make this at home in a cast iron pan, or on a baking sheet (I prefer baking sheet) in the oven.
On this trip, I’ve been making a batch of fresh bannock for my husband almost weekly. He has been, uh, serenading me with the “Greasy Frybread Rap” from Reservation Dogs, in return.
We’ve been making my bannock as an accompaniment for the soups we’ve been eating along this trip. (New recipes for THOSE are coming... eventually!)
Sometimes I cook it with very little oil, sometimes I use a fair amount of oil and make fry bread - literally deep fried bread dough.
Either way, it's also great as a breakfast food with a bit of jam, and or as an accompaniment for French Canadian Pea Soup, or with game meats.
He’s been enjoying it with a bit of blueberry maple syrup - something we picked up in Silver Islet - saying it’s the best bannock he’s ever had.
Eventually, I’m going to have to make Indian tacos for him, though probably not til a future camping trip.
Anyway, let’s get to that recipe!
This is a simple bread that uses really basic ingredients. That said - as always - I do have a couple notes for you!
All Purpose Flour
I use all-purpose flour, as that’s how I learned it. That’s also how it’s been any time I’ve had it when someone ELSE has made it.
That said, you could probably substitute part of the white flour with whole wheat flour if you really wanted.
I wouldn’t swap out more than about ⅓ of it, or it could affect the texture.
I use lard, as that's how I was taught - butter can be very expensive in Canada, and isn't "traditional" in the strictest sense... but then again, neither is refined flour
That said, you can swap it out for other fats.
To make it vegetarian, you can use vegetable shortening - same technique.
If you’d rather use vegetable oil, go for it - we tend to, when we’re camping and/or feeling lazy.
IMHO olive oil would add too much of a specific flavour to it, and it wouldn’t taste “right” to me. You’d still get a good quick bread, just something different.
As far as cooking it goes, you can cook it in a bit of melted lard, shortening, or a splash of vegetable oil.
If you’re looking to make fry bread, be sure to use a neutral tasting oil with a high smoke point - vegetable oil, sunflower oil, or canola oil are all great options.
Rounding out this recipe, you need Baking Powder and Salt.
That’s it! Just 4 main ingredients, plus water - super easy!
How to Make Bannock
The full recipe is in the printable recipe card at the end of this post, here is a pictorial walk through.
In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
Use two forks or your (clean!) hands to cut the lard into the flour mixture. You’ll want it evenly distributed, small bits.
If it’s too sticky to handle, add a little flour.
Note: When camping, I’ll usually just knead it in the mixing bowl. If I have a kitchen to work in, I’ll knead it on a silicone mat, or just a clean, lightly floured surface.
Let the dough rest as you get the fire going.
Cook the Bannock
Melt a couple tablespoons of lard in a large cast iron skillet, over a medium fire (Or medium heat).
Divide the dough into 8 roughly equal pieces, place a few bannock pieces in the heated cast-iron skillet.
Note: If you’re using a stickier dough, dough can sort of lob a piece into the pan, and form it with a spatula in the melted fat. If you’re using a less sticky dough, you can form each piece into a flat circle in your hands.
Either way, the thickness of the dough will impact the cooking time. Thicker dough = longer to cook through = risk of burning the outsides before the insides cook.
Let it sit for a few seconds in the greased frying pan, then flip each piece and flatten out with a spatula - you want it about 1 inch thick.
Cover and cook until the bottom crust is golden brown. Flip and continue cooking until the second side is also golden brown.
Serve your fresh bread warm, with butter.... or drizzled with honey or maple syrup, or slathered in a nice jam or nut butter.
To Oven Bake:
Preheat oven to 400 F Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
On the baking sheet, form dough into a relatively even round, about 1" thick.
Note: This can be a single flat loaf of bread or divided into smaller portions.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.
To Make Fry Bread
When I’m making fry bread, I like to start out with a dough that’s a bit less sticky, and can be formed into patties by hand BEFORE going into the hot oil. I’ll usually form those patties a bit thinner than when I’m not deep frying them.
Instead of melting a couple tablespoons of lard, melt enough lard - or use enough vegetable oil - to come about 1" up the sides of the pan.
Heat oil until it sizzles when a small piece of bannock dough is dropped into it.
Once the oil is hot, add a few pieces of formed bannock, fry for a few minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through.
Transfer fry bread to a plate lined with paper towel, blot any excess grease off. Serve hot!
Leftover bannock or fry bread can be cooled to room temperature and stored for a few days in a large Ziplock bag on the counter, or for around a week in an airtight container in the fridge.
More Camping Recipes
Looking for great ideas to cook on a campfire, or in an RV? Here's a few to start with!
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Traditional Bannock Recipe [How to Make Bread on a Campfire]
- 4 cups All Purpose Flour
- 2 tablespoon Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ⅓ cup Lard
- 1 ½ cups Water
- Extra lard for frying
- In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
- Use two forks or your (clean!) hands to cut the lard into the dry mixture. You’ll want it evenly distributed, small bits.
- Add water to the mix, just enough to bring it together into a sticky dough. Knead lightly to smooth it out a little - don’t overwork it, or it will turn out dense. (I like to use gloves, but oiling the hands works well, too!)
- Melt a couple tablespoons of lard in a large cast iron pan, over a medium fire.
- Divide the dough into 8 roughly equal pieces, place a few in the heated pan. Let it sit for a few seconds, then flip each piece and flatten out with a spatula - you want it about 1 inch thick.
- Cover and cook until the underside is golden brown. Flip and continue cooking until the second side is also golden brown.
- Serve warm, with butter.... or drizzled with honey or maple syrup, or slathered in a nice jam.
To Bake the Bannock
- Preheat oven to 400 F Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.On the baking sheet, form dough into a relatively even round, about 1" thick. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.