Depending on how well you know me you will understand the depth of my obsession with the Outlander series.
It is deep, I assure you.
So it is no wonder that when I thought to give you a Lunasda (Scots-Gaelic for Lughnasadh or Lammas) recipe for harvest bread, my mind wandered to the fields of Scotland. And a mind wandering the fields of Scotland inevitably wanders to the hearth of Lallybroch and the Fraser and McKenzie clans. What would they be celebrating this feast day with?
Bonnach Lunastain is the traditional bannock made in celebration of this feast day and was historically made from the first grains harvested. It was enjoyed in the fields—a true connection between the earth and our food.
Recipes for this traditional bread vary from family to family, county to county, and without a family recipe, one is forced to rely on the basics from which we can create our own traditions. For this recipe I turned to my friends over at Outlander Kitchen for a simple, basic recipe for “Auld Country” bannocks that you are sure to enjoy.
Jocasta’s “Auld Country” Scottish Bannock
From the good folks over at OutlanderKitchen.com
Yield: (1) 9-10” Bannock
Rolled Oats – 1 Cup (180 ml)
Barley (Hulled or Pearl) – ¾ Cup (180 ml)
Salt – ½ tsp (3 ml)
Butter, room temp, cubed or Bacon Fat – 2 Tbsp (30 ml)
Milk, room temp – ⅓ Cup (80 ml)
Grind the oats to meal by pulsing them 4 or 5 times in a clean coffee grinder. Repeat with the barley. (The meals will have some coarser bits to them, but should be relatively fine.) Set aside ¼ cup of the ground oats for working the dough…If you don’t have a coffee grinder, food processor or blender will do, however it will result in a coarser grind.
Mix the remainder of the 2 freshly ground flours together with the salt. Cut the butter in with a pastry cutter or 2 forks until the mixture resembles coarse sand. A few pea-sized lumps of butter are okay.
Stir in the milk — you should have a very wet dough, but not soupy – add a little more milk if the dough is too dry. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and set aside for 15 minutes to allow the grains to absorb the milk.
Preheat a cast-iron pan over med-low heat for 5 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto the counter dusted heavily with the remaining ground oats. Dust the dough with more oat flour and knead it gently 5 or 6 times. Then, being careful not to overwork the dough, gently pat into a round disc about ½” thick.
Dust each side lightly with oat flour, mark a cross into one side of the bannock with the handle of a wooden spoon, and then carefully transfer it to the dry cast iron pan. Cook until golden, about 15 minutes. Flip and cook until golden on the second side, about 10-15 minutes. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes before cutting into 8 wedges.
Serve warm, preferably with butter and honey/jam. Jocasta may have preferred hers plain, but that’s no reason for us not to enjoy ours at their new-world best, aye?
I keep a second coffee grinder to grind small batches of grains and whole spices. To clean it in between grindings, run 3 tablespoons of rice through it for 30 seconds. Discard the rice and admire your shiny, clean grinder.
Use a small plate as a template and cut around it if you’re having trouble getting a perfect round freehand.
These bannocks will keep for days, but by no means do they improve with age. They’re really best hot off the pan. Unless you’re serving them to a crowd at this month’s meeting of your Outlander Book Club, I suggest forming the dough into 6 or 8 small discs and refrigerating or freezing those you won’t eat right away. Wrapped well, bannock dough will keep for 2 days in the fridge and 2 weeks in the freezer. Defrost on the counter before cooking.
For more great Outlandish recipes checkout the recently released Outlander Kitchen Cookbook by Theresa Carle-Sanders.
For more traditional Scottish recipes we recommend The Scots Kitchen by F. Marian McNeill.
Lughnasadh history and lore provided by Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials: Lughnasadh.
Special thanks to our friends Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, and Theresa Carle-Sanders at OutlanderKitchen.com for their amazing work and constant inspiration. We may not know you personally, but we love you just the same.