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Catholic Recipe: St. Michael's Bannock

    INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/3 cups each barley, oat, and rye meal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 scant teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 1/2-3 cups buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons honey, or molasses, or brown sugar Optional: Any or a combination of the following: 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/4 cup raisins or currants, 1-2 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cream
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • Details

  • Yield: 2 large Struans (bannocks) or 4 or 5 smaller ones
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: • •
  • Cost: $$$$
  • For Ages: 11+
  • Origin: Scotland

Also Called: St. Michael Cake; Struan Michael; St. Michael Bread; Struan Michel; Struan Micheil; St. Michael's Cake; St. Michael Bannock; St. Michael's Bread

In the northern and western islands of Scotland there was long-abiding devotion to the archangel, and an ancient tradition of eating on his feast a St. Michael's Bannock. This large, flat cake, cooked on a "girdle," or griddle, is a big first cousin to a scone. Everyone present, whether member of the family or stranger or servant, must eat of this bread dedicated to St. Michael. This interesting recipe from the Hebrides is adapted from Marian McNeil's fine The Scot's Kitchen, Its Traditions and Lore with Old-Time Recipes.

The cake is good plain, or with butter and honey.

The Feast of St. Michael on September 29 has become a combined feast for the archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel. This feast is also called Michaelmas.

DIRECTIONS

Put the barley, oat, and rye meal into a large bowl. Add the flour and the salt. Mix well. Stir the baking soda into 2 1/2 cups buttermilk, and add to the flour mixture. Stir in the honey, and the berries or other additions if you wish.

Turn the mixture out onto a well-floured board. Mix the ingredients only long enough to make a soft dough. Add more flour, or more buttermilk, as necessary (more flour if the dough is too sticky, more buttermilk if it is too dry and doesn't hold together).

Divide the dough in half. On a sheet of floured waxed paper or foil, roll out one half of the dough into a circle about 8 to 9 inches in diameter and 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Do the same with the other half of the dough. (You may choose to make more, smaller bannocks; see below.)

Mix together the eggs, cream, and melted butter.

Heat the griddle and grease it lightly. (If you have a large griddle you can cook both bannocks at once. Otherwise you will have to do them one at a time.) To cook: paint one surface of the bannock with the egg mixture, and, loosening the bannock from the waxed paper, place that surface down on the griddle. (This flipping of a large bannock is the only tricky part of the recipe. But if your bannock breaks, never mind! It tastes just as good. Just push it back together as well as you can. Another solution is to make smaller bannocks.) Cook over moderate heat until the under-surface is brown. While it is cooking, paint the upper surface of the bannock with the egg mixture. Turn and cook the other side, and paint the new top side. The idea is to repeat this procedure until each side of the bannock has been painted and cooked three times.

Recipe Source: Continual Feast, A by Evelyn Birge Vitz, Ignatius Press, San Francisco , 1985
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