The original bannocks were heavy, flat cakes made of unleavened barley or oatmeal dough formed into a pancake shape and then cooked on a griddle. In ancient times, Celts made special bannocks to celebrate the start of each new season according to the Celtic calendar. Other special varieties of bannock are identified based on the flour or meal from which they are made, whether they are leavened or not, whether they have certain special ingredients, how they are baked or cooked, and the names of rituals or festivals in which they are used.
A particularly well-known Scottish bannock is the Selkirk Bannock, a spongy, buttery, raisin-filled cake made from wheat flour. When Queen Victoria visited Sir Walter Scott's granddaughter at Abbotsford, she supposedly took her tea with a slice of Selkirk Bannock, ensuring that its reputation would be forever enshrined. Today, Selkirk Bannocks are popular throughout Great Britain, and can be found at most large supermarkets.
The bare-bones version this traditional recipe involves mixing uncooked oatmeal with a little melted fat, a dash of salt, and less than a tablespoon of water into a thick dough. The dough is then rolled into little balls, flattened, and fried on a hot griddle like pancakes. The following recipe is derived from RampantScotland.com.
Ingredients4 oz. medium oatmeal
2 teaspoons melted lard
2 pinches of bicarbonate of soda
1 pinch of salt
¾ tablespoons hot water
Additional oatmeal for kneading