Cree bannock

Woodlore, the school of wilderness bushcraft founded by Ray Mears, share their recipe for a warming, energy-filled snack that's a perennial favourite of the outdoorsman

Bannock is a traditional Scottish bread

Bannock is a traditional Scottish bread

Every region has its own take on the standard method of cooking bannock. In Australia they bake it straight on fire embers; in the far North it is cooked in a frying pan. In North America, the dish was adopted by indigenous peoples after it was introduced by fur traders. To free up cooking equipment for other jobs, the Cree cooked their bannock skewered on a stick, which is the method we’ve used for this recipe: 

Ingredients (serves 3)

4 x handfuls of flour
2 x handfuls of milk powder
4 x teaspoons of baking powder
1 x handful of dried fruit
Sugar (to taste)
Water

Method

1. Put flour, milk powder, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl or pan. Stir with a wooden spoon, getting plenty of air into the mixture. Make a well in the centre and gradually add water, stirring into a stiff consistency.

2. Fold in the fruit, taking care not to force air from the dough.

3. Find a green, non-toxic stick about an inch in diameter (we use willow) and scrape it down to the bare wood and sharpen both ends. Heat the stick over the fire until scorching.

4. Form the dough into balls and skewer them, pushing the balls together. Push one end of the stick into the ground and lean it towards the embers – the bread at a height above the fire at which you can hold your hand no more than five seconds.

5. Turn the stick regularly to ensure even cooking until the bread is golden brown all over. Peel the bread off the stick and serve warm with butter and jam. 

Learn more cooking techniques and bushcraft skills on a Woodlore course; raymears.com.

You can read our guide to wild butchery and foraging for the Norwegian cloudberry in print issue four of Ernest Journal, on sale now.

10.00
Quantity:
Add To Cart

Swedish torch log

Ever tried to start a fire on wet ground? There aren’t enough curses in the dictionary. A Swedish torch log is the answer, providing all the fuel for the burn and a surface for resting your kettle on, while keeping the fire raised off the ground

A Swedish torch log burns for two to four hours

A Swedish torch log burns for two to four hours

Based on a centuries old idea, the Swedish torch log is becoming increasingly popular among bushcraft and outdoor enthusiasts as a low-impact alternative to gas stoves and an antidote to the frustrations of trying to start a campfire on wet ground.  

There is some conjecture over their origin but Swedish torches may have been used by soldiers of northern European states, fighting in the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). The name is likely to have derived from the German words Schwedenfeuer or Schwedenfackel, which translate as Swedish Fire or Torch.

The great advantages of the Swedish torch log over a conventional campfire, are that the log provides all the fuel for combustion and for the duration of the burn – typically around 2-4 hours, depending on its size. The fire burns from the top, downwards (hence their other name 'log candle') and is always raised off the ground, which is very handy in cold, wet weather. The torch can also be used as a cooking stove, since its flat top provides a stable surface on which to rest a pan or kettle, exactly above where the flames and heat are most concentrated.

To make one, you'll need a well-seasoned log around 8 inches or more in length. Pine, larch or birch are ideal. Using a chainsaw, cut two or three slots across the diameter, down to 3/4 of the log's length. If you don't have a chainsaw you can use an axe to quarter the log then reassemble it using wooden spacers to keep the slots open. I like to attach a string handle to the log so I can carry it around easily (before it's lit, obviously!). Insert kindling into the slots and on top of the log, then light it. The gaps will allow air into the heart of the fledgling fire, which eventually becomes self sustaining as the log begins to burn from the core outwards.

Words and photo provided by Lewis Goldwater, a Herefordshire-based green woodworker. turnham-green-wood.co.uk

Originally featured in issue 4 of Ernest Journal, on sale now.

Order print issue 4
10.00
Quantity:
Add To Cart

Words from the woods

Overgrown by the moss of time or languishing in the deep forest of obscurity, these sylvan words deserve another chance to emerge blinking into daylight

The Way Things Were, Ruth Allen/blueeggsandtea.com

The Way Things Were, Ruth Allen/blueeggsandtea.com

nemophilist

This rather sinister-sounding word has rarely been used for over 100 years. It describes someone with a fondness for the forest; a haunter of the woods. It originates from the 19th century and derives from the Greek words nemos meaning grove and philos meaning affection.

fyrhth

A Norse word to describe a sparse area of scrubland at the edge of a forest. In its modern form it becomes frith, hence Chapel-en-le-Frith – the Chapel in the woodland. Frith developed to‘thrift’,as inThriftWood in Croydon. Frith is also the name of the Sun God in Watership Down.

shaw

From the Old English sceaga – a word for copse or thicket – it also describes a strip of woodland forming the border of a field and bears relation to the North Frisian word skage, meaning the farthest edge of cultivated land. We of course know it as a popular surname today. 

foxfire

A term to describe the luminescent green glow emitted by decaying fungi, sometimes visible at night in forests. It was described by Pliny the Elder as an ‘Agaricke (fungus) that grows on trees and shines at night.’In folklore it is said to indicate the places where fairies gather for their nightly revels.

woodwose

Depicted in medieval folklore, the woodwose is the mythical hairy wild man of the woods. It derives from the Anglo-Saxon wuduwasa (man of the wood).Ted Hughes wrote a poem entitled Wodwo about a half-man,half- animal creature musing on its existence while wandering through a forest. 

Words: Brian Chapman. Originally published in issue 4 of Ernest Journal.

Order print issue 4
10.00
Quantity:
Add To Cart

A plate of pie'n'mash

Potted shrimps, jellied eels and rib-sticking pie'n'mash – Duncan JD Smith is your guide to the no frills but oh so good historic eateries of London

Pie'n'mash and liquor sauce at Manze's on Tower Bridge Road

Pie'n'mash and liquor sauce at Manze's on Tower Bridge Road

These days Britain’s national dish is no longer roast beef and nor is it fish and chips. It is Chicken Tikka Masala, a dry and spicy Indian dish with added sauce to satisfy the nation’s craving for gravy. It’s a good illustration of the way in which Britain has absorbed and adapted external influences since the days of empire and is available at Veeraswamy, Britain’s first Indian restaurant established in 1926 at 99 Regent Street (W1).

That’s not to say that roasts and fried fish have disappeared from London’s culinary map. Far from it. Simpson’s Tavern at 38 Ball Court (EC3), London’s first chophouse, has been serving pies and roasts since 1757, whilst Rules at 35 Maiden Lane (WC2) has specialised in game since opening in 1798. Meanwhile since 1889, Sweetings at 39 Queen Victoria Street (EC4) has been bracketing its fresh fish lunches with the likes of potted shrimps and Spotted Dick pudding. Modest by comparison is the Regency Café at 17–19 Regency Street (SW1), which has provided the best full English breakfasts since 1946, and the family-run Golden Hind at 73 Marylebone Lane (W1), which has been serving excellent fish and chips since 1914.

Two delicacies unique to London are pie’n’mash and eels. Steeped in Cockney culture these honest, no-frills dishes have been enjoyed since the mid-1800s and are still available in more than 80 eel and pie shops around the capital. One of the best – and certainly the oldest – is M. Manze at 87 Tower Bridge Road (SE1). It is considered important enough to warrant its very own Blue Plaque, which is displayed inside the shop rather than being fixed to the wall outside because of the building’s Grade 2 listed status.

A no frills pie shop menu.

A no frills pie shop menu.

Established in 1892 and taken over in 1902 by the Italian Manze family, the premises and the recipes remain exactly as they were a century ago. Behind the old-fashioned façade and green awning there is a single dining room lined neatly with green and white tiles. To one side a row of booths contain dark wooden benches and marble-top tables, where customers can enjoy their food sitting down. Those with less time queue at the take-away counter and enjoy this most original of fast foods outside. Either way the product is the same: a traditional beef pie with mashed potatoes served with a topping of parsley sauce, known as liquor. A splash of vinegar with a side helping of jellied or stewed eels completes the experience. For devotees of the dish there is the Pie & Mash Club, which meets regularly at different restaurants and grades them accordingly.

Manze's: little changed over the decades

Manze's: little changed over the decades

Those in need of a stroll after eating should head north from Manze’s to 11 Bermondsey Square (SE1), where the shadowy 11th-century remains of Bermondsey Abbey can be seen beneath a glass floor in the Del’Aziz restaurant. Around the corner at the junction of Mandela Way and Page’s Walk is a decommissioned Soviet T-34 tank placed here in 1995 by local property developer Russell Gray after his plans to develop the site were refused by Southwark Council!

M. Manze at 87 Tower Bridge Road, Mon 11am–2pm, Tue–Thu 10.30am–2pm, Fri 10am–2.30pm, Sat 10am–2.45pm

Getting there: Jubilee, Northern lines to London Bridge, then bus or walk down Bermondsey Street

This article is adapted from Duncan JD Smith’s book Only in London: A Guide to Unique Locations, Hidden Corners and Unusual Objects published by The Urban Explorer. Existing titles in the “Only In” series cover Berlin, Budapest, Cologne, Hamburg, Munich, Paris, Prague, Vienna and Zurich, with Edinburgh in preparation. Find out more at onlyinguides.com and duncanjdsmith.com.

Venison Steak Rub

In the fourth issue of Ernest Journal, 7th Rise founder Thom Hunt and butcher Frank Linn are your guides to primal butchery of an entire deer carcass, including this delicious meat rub recipe for venison steaks. Get rubbing, folks.

Photo: Oliver Berry

Photo: Oliver Berry

Ingredients

1oz ground black pepper
1oz cayenne pepper
1oz paprika
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp juniper berries
1/2 tbsp ground coffee 

This rub is enough for 2.5 kilos of meat and needs grinding in a pestle and mortar before rubbing onto your steaks. Also superb with beef.

You can read the full guide to primal butchery of a deer carcass, plus wild rabbit and wood pigeon in the fourth issue of Ernest Journal, on sale now.