How to Cook Bannock on a Stick – Campfire Bread

Bannock on a stick cooking over a campfire.

Fresh bread on an extended paddling trip feels like a treat, especially after eating hard crackers, bagels or pitas for a week. One way to make this treat is by cooking bannock. For over a 1000 years, bannock, a simple bread made from the flour of a variety of grains, has filled the bellies of adventurers sitting around campfires. Its attraction is the simple base ingredients and its ease of cooking. A favorite way to make bannock is to cook it on a stick over a campfire.

Preparation of the Bread Dough

At home mix all the dry ingredients into a plastic bag. You can substitute or remove some of the ingredients as you wish. Traditional bannock was just flour and water. In my recipe, baking powder makes the bread fluffy, salt brings out the flavors, powdered milk allows the bread to brown and butter adds flavor. You can add anything to the base to change the flavors. If you want a sweet bread add cinnamon and sugar. In the mood for something cheesy, then toss in some chunks of cheese.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp powdered milk
  • 1 tbsp oil or butter

In camp, mix in the oil or butter (ghee). Add water slowly until you create dough the consistency of play-doh. You want a firm dough that isn’t sticky. If you use the baking powder, set the dough aside to let it rise.

Your Campfire

You don’t need a big fire to cook bannock. You just need one with hot coals. I usually wait to cook bannock until an evening when I’m going to make a fire anyway, then start a fire, let it die down to red-hot coals and get it going again after I finish the bread. Keep in mind that your bannock picks up the flavor of smoke, so select wood that you know tastes good to you. You might not be able to tell the difference, but if you have an advanced camp-cooking palate, you may.

Gather a Stick

Since, you’re going to cook the bannock on a stick, you need to gather the perfect stick. Preferably, pick a stick that’s freshly cut, green and taste good, like aspen. If you’re camping in an area that doesn’t allow the gathering of green wood or in a popular camping area, save the trees and find a recently dead and down branch.

Look for a stick that ranges in size from two fingers to wrist thick. The bigger sticks are heavier, which is a concern, because you’ll have to hold the stick over the fire for about 10 minutes. The smaller sticks force you to make a long loaf, which makes it hard to evenly cook the middle and end. I find a stick about three fingers wide works best.

Once you have your stick, remove both the inner and outer layers of bark. Then, temper it by holding it over your fire until it becomes hot to touch. Don’t burn the stick or your bread will take on that taste. By tempering the stick, the bread will cook from the inside as well as from the outside.

Wrap the Bannock

Take the bread dough and roll it into a snake-like shape. You’re in the woods, so it doesn’t have to look perfect. Start wrapping the dough around the stick. As you wrap, spiral the dough down the stick and compress and spread it, so the dough is less than a half-inch thick. Any thicker and the dough has trouble cooking through.

Find a Hot Spot Above the Fire

The inside of the dough wrap needs to cook before the outside finishes, so you need to find a distance above the fire where the temperature is just right–if you hold it too close the outside will brown too quickly leaving a wet, doughy interior. Find the right distance by holding your hand over the fire. When you find a place you can hold your hand for around 10 to 15 seconds, you’ve found the right height.

Cook the Bannock

Hold the bannock over the fire at the right distance and let it cook. Rotate the bread so all the sides cook evenly. At first, rotate the bread more often to help stop any sag in the dough. Be careful not to allow the bread to get to close or you’ll end up burning a side. It takes around 10 minutes to cook the bannock.

Take the Bannock off the Stick

When the bannock is finished, it should easily come off the stick. If it’s not done, the bread dough will stick making it hard to slide. You want bread that’s dry and fluffy. To help remove the dough, rotate a small section until it breaks and pulls off. Work the rest of the bread off the stick. Enjoy.

Video: Making Bannock

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  1. Posted September 20, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    I shared the video with SOLAR

  2. Posted September 21, 2010 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Willi.

  3. Jody
    Posted July 4, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    This was super helpful thanks so much!!!! Happy Camping!

  4. evie
    Posted April 5, 2012 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Hi!!!! I was wondering if you could also use normal milk instead of the powder milk?

  5. billy eales
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 4:39 am | Permalink

    I never tire of this bread, sometimes instead of using water to mix i use willow sap and add some berries and other hedge veg when available. keep up the good work.

  6. billy eales
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    My previous comment should read birch sap not willow, sorry guys ;-)

4 Trackbacks

  • By Creamy Wild Rice and Chicken over Potatoes on November 24, 2010 at 9:57 am

    […] Serve with bannock. […]

  • By Warm Weather BOB - Bug Out Bag For The Summer on June 2, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    […] For all other cooking chores, I have an aluminum GSI 9 inch, non stick fry pan and a cheap aluminum, non stick pot I got at Goodwill. I can fry, roast, steam and boil any type of food. Learn to cook with only a frying pan and you will have no problems in the wild. I taught myself to make bread from flour and water. A good example of making bread (called bannock) is found here – Cooking Bannock or here. […]

  • By Our camping weekend. « marny.j on August 18, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    […] night Paul showed us how to make Bannock on a stick with Bisquick.  If you make it so that it cooks over the bottom of your stick, you can fill it […]

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