If any of you are doing a Highland Clearances project, you may be studying my own book Fir for Luck, or maybe The Desperate Journey. The 19th century diet in Sutherland consisted of food that could be grown in the region. The staple grain was bere, and beremeal bannocks or scones would be eaten daily in these communities.
Per table, you’ll need 8oz beremeal, 1-2 level tsp of baking powder, 1 level tsp salt, 2 tsp sugar and 6 fl oz buttermilk.
(Chances are, the originals may not have contained much sugar, but hey – kids like this recipe!)
- Buy beremeal from a good local health food shop or order it from http://www.golspiemill.co.uk/products/products-list.html, plus a good supply of buttermilk. You will also need baking powder, salt and sugar.
- In preparation, weigh out 8oz of beremeal for each table of 4-6 pupils. I find it easiest to have this sealed in freezer bags to prevent floury mess (enough of that to come!)
- On the day, give each table a bowl, wooden spoon or similar and a bag of beremeal.
- Number the pupils, co-operative learning style. That way you can distribute tasks fairly. Instructions follow:
- Number 1s, empty the bags into the bowls.
- Number 2s, add a level teaspoon of baking powder and carefully stir it in.
- Number 3s, add another level teaspoon of baking powder and stir it in.
- Number 4s, add a level teaspoon of salt. Stir it in. (You get the idea! Only instructions now)
- Add 2 heaped teaspoons of sugar. Stir.
- Add the buttermilk, a spoon at a time, and stir it in until there is enough moisture to form an elastic dough.(This gets a bit messy)
- Get in with your hands and knead until combined. (This gets fairly messy!! Add more flour to stop sticky dough!)
- Divide dough evenly among everyone at the table.
- Each pupil should form a round disk around 1/2 an inch thick.
- Place on baking paper on tray, writing your name beside in pencil (this works brilliantly and still shows up after baking).
- Bake tray off at 180C/Gas 6, turning the bannocks over once. You’d be there forever if you wanted to cook them all authentically, on a girdle!
- Serve with a dollop of butter. I’ve been surprised how much kids have liked these!
Enjoy! Tweet me your results @scattyscribbler – I’d love to see them.
P.S. Other (possibly less old-fashioned) recipes for beremeal can be found at http://www.birsay.org.uk/baronymill.htm .