The following recipe and it’s variations are the breads I make for the Celtic feast days. They are not exactly traditional- the basic recipe was originally for “Bride cakes”, I varied it somewhat to my tastes. Traditional bannock bread is a very basic biscuit-like bread, so if you leave out the sweetener, this recipe is more authentic. Also, it is traditional to not use any metal in the making of bannocks. The Bealtaine Bannocks custom of throwing a knob of bread over your shoulder can be found in “Survivals in Belief Among the Celts” by George Henderson, page 262. Bannocks are also eaten at Lughnasadh, however there is no variation to be noted. Also, Barm Brack is usually a yeast bread- I use this recipe because I’m lazy.
Brigit’s (Sweet) Bannock
½ cup butter
¼ cup honey (optional)
2 cups oat or wheat flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup chopped dates (optional)
¼ cup (or more) buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream butter and honey together. Mix the dry ingredients together and add the dates, stirring to coat them with flour. Stir dry ingredients into the butter-honey mixture and add enough buttermilk to make a dough. Roll into a ball and flatten onto a greased cookie sheet for one regular sized bannock, or divide into two balls and flatten bannocks onto cookie sheet. With a knife, mark the bannock(s) with an equal-armed sun cross. Bake 15 minutes or until slightly golden. Serve for the Celtic feast day of Imbolc.
Knead the bannock dough in your hands into a round loaf. Pinch up nine knobs on the top of it. Dip the bannock into caudle before baking. How to use the knobs: while looking into the Bealtaine fire, break off a knob from the bread and throw it over your shoulder and say what spirit you are offering it to and why. (For example: “I give this to fox, so that he doesn’t eat my hens.”)
Samhain Barm Bracks
Prepare as for sweet bannocks, but to dry ingredients add ½ teaspoon cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg. Wrap the following items in wax paper and fold into the dough before baking: a ring, a coin, a stick, a pea, and a thimble. This is a divination to be done at Samhain. Whoever gets the ring in her or his slice of bread will be married. The coin represents riches, the pea- poverty, and the thimble- spinsterhood (or marrying a spinster).
*Edit: You can veganize these and other recipes you find on my blog (and please do), with these substitutions:
•choose from this list of vegan sugars in place of sugar
•use maple syrup in place of honey
•use Earth Balance vegan butter or coconut oil in place of butter
•any vegan milk can be used in place of dairy milk
•to make vegan buttermilk, add a tablespoon of vinegar to one cup soy milk and leave at room temperature a few minutes
•see this list of 5 Vegan Substitutes for Eggs in Baking