This is a more modern version of the traditional oatmeal struan, but still one that is attested to in the sources. The recipe took some trial and error to get the hang of, mainly because of the vagueness of the recipe in terms of how much milk or flour was needed at various points and in my own inexperience at making this type of bannock.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with flavours – on its own the bannock is quite bland, so the dried fruit and carraway really helps to make it tastier. Cloves and candied peel (or fresh citrus peel) would complement the carraway nicely, or you could try working in a good amount of crystallised ginger and some ginger powder. The dough will rise quite a lot, so the trick is to shape the struan(s) as thinly as possible, otherwise you’ll end up with a solid, inedible lump once it cools. If they do end up coming out a little too thick (see the picture, to your right!), then it’s best to eat them hot.
Ingredients – for the bannock1
1tsp baking (bicarbonate of) soda
Sour milk – enough to make a dough
1tsp carraway seeds, for flavour
Dried currants, sultanas/raisins, and/or candied peel
Ingredients – for the coating
3tbsp treacle (or golden syrup)
1 tbsp sugar
Plain flour – enough to make a dough
1. Heat the oven to around 150ºC, or a low-medium heat.
2. Prepare a baking sheet for the struan(s) to go on when ready to bake.
3. Sift the flour and baking soda into a bowl and make a well in the middle of it.
4. Gradually add in the milk, until you have a workable dough. As you do this, say:
Progeny and prosperity of family
Mystery of An Dagda, protection of Brìde
5. Add in the carraway and dried fruit, or whatever flavourings you like (as much as you like and will keep the dough workable – about a handful or two of the dried fruit is enough).
6. Shape the dough into a struan – either a large, thin, round one, or smaller ones intended for individual family members or participants. As they cool they will become hard, so try to make them as thin as you can.
7. As you shape the struan, say:
Progeny and prosperity to ________ (whoever it’s for – person or family name)
Mystery of An Dagda, shielding of Brìde
8. Each struan can be decorated with patterns to distinguish who it’s for, if necessary, or else bless the bannock for the family as a whole again. Given the coating that needs to be added, lumps, bumps and depressions are better, to make sure they stay distinguishable once they’re coated.
9. Make sure you set aside a small piece of dough for offering. This can be baked with the rest of the struans or burnt in a fire for the purpose.
9. Bake in the oven on a baking tray at 150C, or a low heat, until they are about to start turning golden (about ten minutes or so for the individual struans).
10. While in the oven, mix together the ingredients for the caudle coating, adding enough flour to make a dough.
11. Coat the struan(s) with the dough and return to the oven until the caudle coating is cooked.
12. Any struans that break should not be used.
1 Shaw, Folksongs and Folklore of South Uist, 1977, p58.