Last weekend, I attended the annual Pioneer Picnic at Grant's Old Mill Museum. The site commemorates Métis leader Cuthbert Grant, who established the area's first water-powered grain mill in 1829. The organizers served bannock, a flat bread that has Celtic roots but has been kept alive in North America by Métis and First Nations people.
Bannock can be cooked on a stick over a fire or in a cast-iron pan or dropped by spoonfuls into a stew. This version, made by Nancy Fluto, president of the St. James-Assiniboia Pioneer Association, is cooked in the oven on a bread stone for a nice crisp crust. It's lighter than some versions and contains sugar, which made it perfect to eat with the jams and jellies from the picnic's preserve-making contest.
Carly Unger had written in asking for a blueberry pie featured in the Free Press food pages several summers ago. Carol Farthing of Stonewall had clipped and saved the recipe and kindly sent it along.
This week we have some old-timey requests. S. Barnett would like recipes for Dutch apple cake and applesauce muffins. (I'm not quite ready to think about fall, but apple season is coming up.) Olga Chorney is looking for recipes for cottage pudding (a white cake with caramel sauce), cottage cheese pie (the kind with sugar, raisins and lemon), and gingerbread with molasses. If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to email@example.com, fax it to 697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.
Grant's Old Mill Bannock
625 ml (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
30 ml (2 tbsp) baking powder
2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
30 ml (2 tbsp) sugar
75 ml (1/3 cup) shortening
250 ml (1 cup) water
Preheat oven to 205C (400F). (If using a bread or pizza stone, place in cold oven and let heat up with oven.) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in shortening until the size of small peas. In a small bowl, combine eggs with water. Sprinkle over dry ingredients and stir just until blended. You might need to adjust water or flour amounts a little to get a dough that is soft and slightly sticky but workable. With floured hands on a floured surface, knead dough 10 times and pat into a circle about 20 cm (8 in). Prick dough all over with a fork. Sprinkle a little flour or corn meal over the heated bread stone before placing dough on it. Bake about 18-20 minutes or until golden brown and beginning to crisp.
Tester's notes: This tasty bannock is lighter and sweeter than many traditional versions, making it good for breakfast or tea. Nancy Fluto likes to work with shortening, but you can also use lard. (She knows a Métis elder who uses bear grease, but that's hard to come by.) The baking stone offers a preheated surface that absorbs the dough's moisture, ensuring a nicely crisped crust. (I'd never used a stone before. I now swear by it and am planning to try out homemade pizza.) If you don't have a stone, you can try a cast-iron, oven-proof pan or a heavy cookie sheet.
Blueberry Cream Pie
375 ml (11/2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
60 ml (1/4 cup) white sugar
57 g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, chilled
60 ml (1/4 cup) lard, or another 57 g (1/4 cup) butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
500 ml (2 cups) whipping cream
125 ml (1/2 cup) white sugar
1 packet (15 ml or 1 tbsp) gelatin
30 ml (2 tbsp) cold water
2 ml (1/2 tsp) almond extract
15 ml (1 tbsp) orange zest
750 ml (3 cups) fresh blueberries
125 ml (1/2 cup) port wine jelly or red currant jelly
15 ml (1 tbsp) water
Preheat oven to 205 C (400 F). In a food processor, mix flour, salt, sugar for 30 seconds. Cut butter into flour mixture and pulse until mixture is like coarse sand. Sprinkle egg over flour and butter mixture and pulse just until dough comes together. Gather up dough and roll out between two pieces of waxed paper into a 28 cm (11 in) round. Remove top paper and invert into 22-25 cm (9-10 in) pie or tart pan. Crimp pastry and prick all over with a fork. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.
Using an electric mixer, whip cream with sugar until it starts to thicken. Meanwhile, place cold water in a small pan, sprinkle gelatin over and let sit 1 minute until gelatin begins to soften. Heat over very low heat, stirring, just until dissolved. Let cool slightly. While whipping the cream on low speed, add gelatin in a stream. Continue to beat at higher speed until soft peaks form. Fold in almond extract and orange zest. Spoon mixture into cooled shell. Top with blueberries. In a saucepan melt jelly and water over low heat until mixture is smooth. Cool and drizzle over berries. Refrigerate until ready to serve. This pie must be stored in the fridge and is best eaten the day it's made.
Tester's notes: This tart's cookie-like crust and creamy, rich filling make a nice change from the regular blueberry pie. Gelatin is not one of my strong suits, and my first try on this was like a science experiment gone horribly wrong. The trick involves the temperature of the gelatin mix when you add it to the cream: Too hot and it will deflate the cream, and too cold and it will clump. It should be about body temperature and still fluid. If you don't have a food processor, pastry can easily be made by hand. I used a 22 cm (9 in) tart pan with a removable bottom, which was a bit on the small side. Next time I'll go with a 25 cm (10 in) tart pan or a deeper 22 cm (9 in) pie pan.