The Black Douglas…

So, it’s Easter, you expect a recipe for Hot Cross Buns/Chocolate eggs/a cake with cute chicks strewn over it? Jog on!!! Well, okay, it might have started out as something like that, but once I’d gotten the ingredients out, I looked at them and the word ‘bannock’ just appeared in my brain. I do sometimes wish it’d stop doing that. Wassat? You don’t know what a Bannock is? Traditional Scottish bread. Well, technically, that’s what it is, but, oh, so much more. Traditionally, it’s a bread that poor people can make without an oven, with few ingredients, on the move. It can be cooked on a girdle or frying pan, and there’s a fair few versions. Selkirk, Fife, Wheaten, Yetholm………special ones depending on the time of year……Yule, Lammas, Saimhain etc. This one is a Selkirk Bannock, originally cooked by a chap called Robert Douglas. As Douglas was my grandmothers maiden name, and it hails from the Scottish Borders, which is where Selkirk is, I’ve got a sneaky liking for this sweetened version. I rather feel it connects me to my roots. Unfortunately, after telling you don’t need an oven to cook your Bannock – this is one of the few times you do need one. There’s so much dried fruit in, it just won’t cook properly without one. Oh, one more thing, this makes a LARGE Bannock. You could either half the quantities and reduce the cooking time, or else try making it in 2 x 2lb loaf tins. But I like the more ‘rustic’ free form, so I’ll stick with that.

Selkirk Bannocks

  1. 900g  strong bread flour
  2. 14g fast acting yeast
  3. 150g soft butter or margerine
  4. 50g sugar
  5. 0.25 tsp salt
  6. 500ml lukewarm milk
  7. 450g sultanas
  8. 1 egg for egg wash, along with 1 tbsp sugar

Cream together your butter and sugar, then add the flour, yeast and salt. Then add the milk to form a dough. It shouldn’t be sticky, but knead it for 10 minutes till it becomes silky and elastic. Then cover it and leave it in a warm place to rise to about double in size.

Once it’s risen, punch it backdown, pull it into a rectangle and scatter the sultanas over it. Then knead it again until they’re all incorporated into the dough.

Shape it into a round and place on a lightly greased baking sheet and leave aside to prove again for about 40 minutes. Put your oven on at 190°C while this is happening.

Bake your Bannock for approx an hour, then take it out and paint with the beaten egg wash. Scatter over the tablespoon of sugar, then bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. Then let it cool on a wire rack.

It tastes rather like a denser version of Pannetone, and is so good toasted with a cup of tea, or even used in a Bread and Butter Pudding. And, if you’ve got some, try using Vanilla Sugar instead of normal. It takes it to a whole new level!!!!

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