Pitcaithly Bannocks

Pitcaithly bannockPitcaithly bannocks originally hail from Pitcaithly in Perthshire, and are quite like shortbread in consistency. As with the Fife bannocks, there’s no fallaid left over so you can designate a farl to the Good Folk and break a piece off for them or set a small piece of dough aside to cook specially as the bonnach fallaid, either with a hole through it, or break a piece off as you offer it once it’s cooked.

The first time I tried these (pictured left) I only had mixed raisins with peel but they turned out very nicely. Remember to adjust the temperature for a fan oven, though, because these cooked a little unevenly as the oven was too hot. The almonds give a texture rather than a taste, but if you don’t like them, try some semolina instead.


8oz (2 sticks) butter
4oz (1/2 cup) caster sugar
1lb (2 cups) plain flour
2oz (1/4 cup) mixed peel or finely grated fresh orange peel
2oz (1/4 cup) ground or finely chopped almonds


1. Lightly dust a clean surface with flour, ready for kneading the dough later on.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl.
3. Sift in the flour, then add the peel and almonds and work into a dough. As you do this, say:

Progeny and prosperity of family
Mystery of Michael, protection of Trinity2

4. Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and knead until it’s nice and smooth, adding more flour sparingly, if needed, to prevent the dough from sticking to the surface.
5. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with clingfilm, a lid, or a towel and place in the fridge for about a day – a few hours will do at a push.
6. Preheat the oven and turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead lightly again until the dough is easily workable (but not too soft). Shape the dough into a round and decorate (with nine ‘knobs’, for example, to make breaking pieces off for offerings at Bealltainn more easy, for example), or cut the round into farls or shape individual bannocks and decorate them if you prefer. As you make each one, or place a farl on the baking sheet if you prefer not to alter them, say:

Progeny and prosperity to ________ (whoever it’s for – person or family name)
Mystery of Michael, shielding of the Lord3

7. Place on a baking tray. If using the caudle, mix all the ingredients together and apply a thick layer to each cake with a pastry brush.
8. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes for a round, until golden brown, allowing less time for smaller cakes. Alternatively, bake them on a hot, greased girdle. If you use caudle, you will need to turn the farls over and apply a thick coat to the underside once the first layer of caudle has dried in the heat of the oven. This should take about five minutes. You can keep applying layers of caudle to alternate sides as the bannocks cook if you wish.


1 Recipe from Practically Edible.
2 See Carmichael’s Carmina Gadelica, 1992, p590-591.
3 See Carmichael’s Carmina Gadelica, 1992, p590-591.