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Selkirk Bannock

The Royal Burgh of Selkirk is renowned for having, perhaps, one of the most colourful of the Border Common-Ridings with the Casting of the Colours, led by the Standard-Bearer, in the Town's Market Place after the  Riding of the Marches.  This year’s Royal Burgh Standard Bearer will be Alasdair Craig and the Common Riding is due, as usual, on the second Friday after the first Monday in June – in other words a week today – Friday 15 June 2007. That day Selkirk will resound to the town’s traditional song – ‘Up Wi’ The Souters O’ Selkirk’ –

‘It’s up wi the Soutars o’ Selkirk,
An doun wi’ the Earl o’ Hume,
An here’s tae a’ the braw ladies
That weirs the single-soled shuin.
It’s up wi’ the Souters o’ Selkirk,
For they are baith trusty an’ leal,
An up wi’ the lads o’ the Forest’
An doun wi’ the Merse tae the deil.’

But you don’t need to wait until next week in Selkirk to enjoy the town’s well-known delicacy Selkirk Bannock as below you will find a recipe to make your very own!

First made by Robbie Douglas in his bakery in Selkirk Market Place in 1859 it was a great favourite of Queen Victoria. A slice of Selkirk Bannock was all that she would eat, along with a cup of tea, when she visited Sir Walter Scott's grand-daughter at Abbotsford in 1867 in spite of being offered a rich repast.

According to the writer Theodora Fitzgibbon the Selkirk Bannock is a reminder of our Celtic Heritage - "All the Celtic Countries - Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Brittainy - have many things in common; a similarity of language; cultural heritages; as well as a surprising number of foods general to all these countries. There is little to choose between the Barm Brack of Ireland, the Bara Brith of Wales, Selkirk Bannock of Scotland, the Morlaix Brioche of Brittainy...".

To make your very own Selkirk Bannock, a circular, very rich fruit loaf, flat on the bottom and rounded on top, take -

2 lb flour, 1/2 pt warmed milk,1 oz yeast, 1/2 lb sugar, 1/2 teasp sugar for creaming the yeast,  1lb sultanas, 4 oz butter, 4 oz lard, 4 oz chopped candied orange peel, a little milk and sugar for glazing.

Melt the butter and lard until soft but not oily, then add the warmed milk; cream the yeast with 1/2 teaspoon sugar and add to mixture. Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the centre and pour in the liquid, then sprinkle the flour from the sides over the top to make a batter. Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place for about 1 hour until doubled in size. Knead well, and add the fruit and sugar. Knead again for about 5 minutes, place in greased tin which should be half full, cover and sit again to rise for about 45 minutes. Bake in a moderate oven ( 350F; mark 4-5 ) for about one hour to one and a half hours, and half an hour before done, take from oven and brush top with a little warmed milk with sugar dissolved in it. Put back in oven and continue cooking until golden. Test with a skewar to ensure fully cooked.

It is usually served for tea, sliced and buttered - enjoy like Queen Victoria - well worth the effort!



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