Cask & Barrel

Bannock Bread

Bannock is a traditional Canadian bread that I was introduced to camping in Algonquin Park as a child. It requires no egg or dairy, so the dry mix can easily be carried in your pack with a small portion of oil to make fresh bread at the campsite. It may have originated from a Scottish recipe introduced by early settlers, but it was quickly adopted by many First Nation communities and has become a part of true Canadiana. I’ve used rendered duck fat and added fresh thyme, but any oil or fat can be substituted. Olive oil and fresh rosemary, or butter and sage would make a delicious alternative. The easiest method is to bake the bannock in an oven, but the dough can also be pan fried in oil or baked in a skillet to create a pull-apart bread. The ultimate bannock experience—wrap the raw dough around a stick and roast over an an open fire!

Bannock with Duck Fat and Fresh Thyme

Yields 15 pieces

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ cup duck fat
  • 1 cup water
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add thyme, duck fat, and water. Stir until a dough forms. 
  4. Remove dough and knead until smooth. Add a small amount of water if too dry.
  5. Portion dough into about 15 balls, 2″ in size. Pat dough flat in the palms of your hands to form a disc. Use your thumb to create a hole in the centre of the disc.
  6. Place on baking sheet and baking for about 20 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown and the bannock is cooked through.

Maple Bacon Mac and Cheese

In celebration of all things maple. This recipe uses a maple goat cheddar from Fifth Town Artisanal Cheese made with Fosterholm maple syrup, but any white cheddar can be substituted for a maple-free version.

Choose a short pasta with deep ridges or grooves, so the sauce has something to cling on to. Rotini, fusilli, and cavatappi are all good. If you use penne or rigatoni, make sure they have ridges as some varieties are smooth. I used radiatore and I think it’s become my favourite shape!

Maple Bacon Mac and Cheese

Yields 10 8 oz. portions

  • 1 L whole milk
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1 package bacon (about 250-300 g)
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 400 g white cheddar, grated
  • 450 g dried pasta
  • Salt to taste
  1. Bring milk to a gentle simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently and making sure the bottom doesn’t burn. Add onion, bay leaf, clove, and nutmeg. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
  2. While the milk is simmering, dice bacon into small pieces. Cook in a large skillet over medium heat, removing the liquid fat as it renders. Save fat in a bowl or jar. Remove bacon from skillet when it starts to get crispy.
  3. Return bacon fat to the skillet and add flour. Use a whisk to incorporate the flour and fat into a roux (a paste used to thicken liquids into a sauce). Cook until the flour turns light brown, being careful not to let it burn.
  4. Strain onion, bay leaf, and clove out of the milk. Using a ladle, add a small amount of milk to the skillet with the roux. Whisk together until smooth. Continue adding milk ladle by ladle, whisking after each addition until smooth. You can start to add the milk faster and in larger portions after about half the milk has been whisked into the roux.
  5. Add grated cheese and stir until melted.
  6. Cook pasta to al dente texture (firm in the middle). Strain and return to pot. Add cooked bacon and cheese sauce to pasta and stir to combine. Season with salt and serve warm.