As the days roll towards Imbolg, I have been planning my ceremonial offerings, including foods, to honor Brighid. Among the customary sacred foods of Celtic festivals, bannocks are the star. Traditionally made from oats or barley, sometimes topped with caudle, gussied up modern style with exotic herbs and spices, oven or griddle baked, bannocks are an ancient food that is part of each Celtic holiday.
Bannocks are a simple flatbread. Just about every culture has some version of this. They can be made with nothing more than flour and water. They can even be roasted right on a bed of ashes. They are inexpensive to make and cook up quick. A common addition in modern-style bannocks is baking soda to give them a wee boost.
I have not yet had the opportunity to cook bannocks on a stone, but I hope to remedy that someday. Thus far, my favorite way to cook bannocks in on top of the stove, on an old 8-inch round cast iron griddle that I inherited from my paternal grandmother. As Imbolg is very much a woman’s holiday honouring the home and women’s skills, the connection there is especially poignant for me.
I also make bannocks at non-festival times. They are especially delicious served with stews and dunked into the rich broth. Or make them for a nosh, accompanied with butter, honey, and jam. Last year for Imbolg, I made oat bannocks flavored with rosemary and orange rind. This year, I am making more humble and down-to-hearth beremeal bannocks. Fresh-made butter will go along with them as Imbolg offerings.
Here is a super easy recipe for modern bannocks using self-rising flour:
Mix together in a bowl:
1 and ½ cups self-raising flour
Half teaspoon baking soda
Generous pinch of salt
1 cup whole milk (add more if needed)
Mix dry ingredients together, then add milk. Stir to thoroughly combine. Flour a surface to roll out your bannock dough. Divide dough in half, then roll each half out to desired thickness (typically between ¼ and ½ inch), and slice into desired shape and size. Heat your griddle to medium heat, then lay about 4 bannocks on. Cook for a few minutes on all sides, and they’re done! Serve and enjoy!
Beannacht on your bannocks,