Night never really comes during this part of the summer on Kodiak Island BUT even though night is twilight, it is dreary and cold at 5 A.M.. Our area starts commercial fishing at 6 AM so I light the propane lights and the oil stove for warmth and have hot water for tea ready for when the girls rise at 5:30.
They dress quickly and grab a hot cup and bread with jam then don rain gear for putting out the nets.
As a family with college age crew, we set gill net from our remote cabin on Olga Bay. When Alaska Department of Fish and Game announces the hours we can commercially fish, we set out nets which stay in the salt water this opening from 6 A.M. Monday to the closure when have nets out of the water by 9 A.M. on Wednesday.
“Can we have Bannock for breakfast?” Paolina asks. Looking forward to 2nd breakfast is what gets the crew through putting on stone cold rain gear and climbing into the boats for the set out.
“Bannock coming up.” I say.
When Heather and I toured fish camps in our area we asked, “What is your favorite food at fish camp?” ”Bannock” or “Alogic” (Native fry bread) was the answer from all camps. Everyone loved deep fried bread dough. Why at fish camp and not in town? Because we all live far from town that most of us bake bread so raw dough is handy to fry up and serve with jam, brown sugar, cinnamon, honey, butter, or even to use as a base for a individual pizza.
Other parts of the United States have several versions of fried bread, Navajo fry bread, funnel cakes at country fairs, beignets from New Orleans, and flippers from Cape Cod and of course, our Bannock may be named from the Mid West Indian tribes. Most world cultures have a version of fried bread, for example, sopaipillas from Mexico, churros from Spain, langos from Hungry, youtias from China and boortsog from Central Asia.
So as the girls head out to set the nets, I heat up a cast iron chicken fryer (Lodge Brand) with 2 inches of vegetable oil and I start plucking off golf ball chunks of bread dough to fry.
Recipe: Fish Camp Bread and Bannock
This recipe is traditional for us but I have used all kinds of raw yeast breads for Bannock like 100% whole wheat, molasses rich Adamana, French, and sturdy multi grain. Each one is delicious.
- 3 envelops bread yeast
- 1 cup water, warmed to lukewarm
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 cups milk, warmed
- 1 1/2 sticks butter, melted and cooled
- 3/4 cup honey
- 10 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat
- 2 level tablespoons salt
- Coat the inside of a clean, large dish pan ( I use Rubbermaid) with baking spray. Dissolve yeast in 1 cup water and 1 teaspoon sugar in bowl. Let sit until foamy. Mix milk, water, butter, and honey together in the clean, large dish pan. Add yeast mixture, whole wheat flour and 8 cups of all purpose flour. Stir until dough comes together and becomes too stiff to stir with a spoon. Start adding flour 1/2 cup at a time and knead dough by hand within the dish pan. Knead about 10 minutes, adding flour only if necessary, until dough is satiny and smooth. Spray dough surface with baking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a cool place (our porch is about 50 degrees) for an overnight rise.
- The next morning, punch down. Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a deep skillet. Break off golf ball size chunks of dough. Flatten and stretch dough on an oiled plate until 5 or 6 inches round. Lift and gently slip into hot oil. Don’t crowd the pan. 3 or 4 at a time is plenty. You want the oil to bubble around the edges of the bread dough. Turn over with tongs when one side is golden. When both sides are beautiful, lift from oil. Let drip a moment then lay on paper towel lined plate. Set plate into a 200 degree oven. When I have 8 or so fried up, I call breakfast.
- Have breakfast guests top their Bannock with a dash of honey, or a sprinkle of brown sugar and cinnamon, or jam. I eat them plain but since they are crunchy and hot, they are delicious.
- I use the equivalent of 1 loaf for Bannock and divide the remaining dough into two greased bread pans. Let bread rise until even with the top of the pan and place into a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes.
Number of servings (yield): Breakfast Bannock and 2 loaves of bread.