The Hobbit. It's practically here. And so it's time for a second hobbit recipe.
I chose bannocks, which show up in Chapter 3, A Short Rest. As Bilbo, Gandalf, and the dwarves make their way to the Last Homely House, they hear the elves singing in the forest around them:
"O! What are you doing, / And where are you going? / Your ponies need shoeing! / The river is flowing!/ O! tra-la-la-lally / here down in the valley!/ O! What are you seeking, / And where are you making? / The faggots are reeking, / The bannocks are baking!/! tril-lil-lil-lolly / the valley is jolly, ha! ha!"
And since I figured the bannocks had to be some kind of food, I looked it up.
Bannocks are a traditional Scottish food, a quick flat bread cooked on a griddle (or girdle), also often known as oatcakes. They are very easy to make, if a bit sticky, and would have been a perfect meal for the little group that arrived at Elrond's home after the first leg of their journey, weary, hungry, and tired. They are hearty, filling little scones that can be accompanied by a variety of different toppings, from butter and honey to (my preferred) clotted cream and jam. Bannocks, I have learned, make an excellent breakfast or afternoon snack, and went over well with the seminarians I work with.
Plain, they taste like, well, hard oatmeal bars. I suppose they could be sweetened if you desire, but I like them as a fairly neutral base for toppings. Plus, I can't eat sweets in the morning without getting nauseous, so these are perfect breakfast food for me. Or even second breakfast.
(makes 2 oatcakes, or 8 scones)
adapted from Serious Eats
1 c. rolled or old-fashioned oats
1 c. rolled or old-fashioned oats, ground in a coffee grinder to a flour (or 1 c. store-bought oat flour), plus extra for kneading
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbs cold butter, cut into pieces
1/2 c. warm water
Preheat oven to 400F.
Lightly butter a cast-iron skillet, or line a baking tray with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, oat flour, and salt. Add in the pieces of butter and rub into the flour mixture with your fingers. Using a pastry cutter doesn't really work well with the oats, so just stick with your fingers. And it will stick TO your fingers as well. Rub in until the dough starts to clump together, trying not to leave large pieces of butter un-mixed-in.
Add the water and stir until the water has been absorbed by the flour and you have a cohesive dough.
Turn out dough onto a surface you have dusted with the extra oat flour. Knead a few times, until the dough is not so sticky and is more manageable.
Divide dough in half and pat each half into a 1/4" thick round. Cut each round into four scones, if desired.
Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, until the lightly colored. (If baking in the skillet, you will need to bake in batches.)
Eat warm, with your topping of choice, and store any leftovers in an air-tight container.
Note: These are really, really fabulous with clotted cream. I discovered the wonders of clotted cream after making these bannocks, and it is fabulous. It has the texture and look of butter, but with an extra nuttiness and sweetness to the flavor. It's like the lovechild of butter and whipped cream. Plus, it's ridiculously easy to make. I may be minorly obsessed. You can find a good recipe at The Cupcake Project, along with a plethora of incredibly helpful comments. I cut the recipe in half and got enough clotted cream to fill a small mason jar.
Bring on the movie, world. I'm ready!
There and Back Again, a Hobbit's Menu, Part 1: Seed Cake