This bannock recipe, which Sigurd said is “for four, depending on appetite and what else goes with it,” comes from a letter he wrote on December 18, 1962:
Three or four cups of flour, a good pinch of salt, a few tablespoons of bacon grease, a level teaspoon of baking powder, enough warm water to make dough. Kneed the dough well, turning it over and over until all the ingredients are well mixed and the dough of even consistency. Use only enough water to make a rather dry dough. Too much water and it is spoiled.
Then, depending on the size of your frying pan, cut off enough of the dough to pat into a well-greased pan, making the bannock at this stage not more than half an inch in thickness. Have it fill the pan.
Now it is ready for the baking. You can start it over a low flame very gently so as not to burn, but it is better to do as the Indians and Old Timers—prop your pan beside the fire so it will get the heat and bake from the top. After the top is done, you can turn it and brown the other side. It usually takes about twenty minutes. The secret is a slow, even heat.
After it is done you can rub it with more bacon grease to make a nice juicy crust. Many like to add some fruit to the bannock, raisins, any chopped fruit, dried, or anything you can pick in season. It does something.
This is the bread of the north and worth working at.
Photo: Sigurd Olson cooking somewhere on the Churchill River in 1961.
Where does this fit on the singing wilderness spiritual map? You could make a case for the gold section: love, perhaps, or even–with a wink and a nod toward those who spend a week or more in close quarters in the wilderness–to justice and therefore peace. But I prefer, in the spirit of Sigurd, to place this in the teal section, under joy.