Zantoon Trifle

Saskatoon Berry Soup on Bannock

…makes Zantoon Trifle!

I was treated to this exceptionally delicious dessert at a Cree Language gathering. I didn’t get the recipes, I just got to eat it…

an Invented Name

One of the  women at the Cree language lesson I attended – where I got to eat this amazingly delicious dessert – invented the word Zantoon as I was photographing the food.  I explained the pics were for the blog, and that I was going to write about it for my final post in the A-Z challenge,  and needed a name that starts with Z.  Before I’d finished taking the pictures, she’d come up with Zantoon, explaining: Bannock becomes Zannock, minus the nock, plus Saskatoon, minus the Saska = Zantoon.  Wow, she’s good!

And it’s not really trifle. There’s no jelly, or whipped cream (though whipped cream was served, but I think we ate it all before we got to the bannock…).  My oh my, how delicious this was.  But Zantoon Trifle has a nice ring to it; works better than Zantoon Dessert, or Zantoon Cake or…? Do you have any ideas?  Truth be told, this is probably more like scones and runny jam than anything else!

Bannock Cooked in Many Ways

This bannock was baked as a loaf, to save space in the baker’s apartment-size oven. She told me she can only cook a dozen scones at a time, while she can cook 6-8 loaves. Have you ever seen loaf-shaped bannock (or scones)?

The bannock was the softest, most melt-in-the-mouth scone I’ve ever had!  I want that Cree woman’s bannock secrets.  Will I have to learn how to make it in Cree?  Until then, I can always try this fried bannock recipe from Canadian Living.

So it’s a fried biscuit recipe.  What’s so special about that? Well, it’s fried for one thing…I’ve never had fried bannock, but I think it’s a bit like beaver tails, or Hungarian langos – though those are both made with yeast, which bannock never is.

Cooked on a stick

Or maybe you’d like to try cooking it rolled into a ribbon, and wrapped around a stick to hold over an open fire?  Yeah, like hot dogs or marshmallows…. For this and other traditional variations check these recipes from the British Columbia Forest Service.

Baker’s Secrets

Pahkwesikan is the Cree word for  bannock, which is the Scottish name for English scones, and some say scones are biscuits – and every cook I know who makes scones, biscuits, bannock or soda bread has a secret.  My Mom said it was cream of tartar.  The Bulgarians who treated me to their soda bread at Christmas told me it was lemon juice.  That soda bread was a different thing all together – it had the texture and flavor of a yeast bread.  But I digress…Apparently Canada’s First Nations were making their own type of bannock long before the Scots arrived.  They made it from the Camas bulb.  Here’s a wee history lesson for you brought to you by CBC (of course!)

Camas in Beacon Hill Park, Victoria, B.C.  The First Nations people of Canada were making bannock from Camus bulbs long before the Scots arrived with their wheat and oats bannock.

Saskatoon Berry Soup

Saskatoon Berry Soup

We had 2 versions of Saskatoon Berry Soup. One with mashed berries (made by the woman who invented the word Zantoon), that was almost creamy in texture; another – as pictured here – with the berries pretty much intact. Most of us put both on our bannock – which absorbed the juice, leaving the berries sitting on top.

The creamier version had mixed berries, and was thickened with a little flour. The other version I have no idea about. I think it was just cooked Saskatoon berries and nothing else. Didn’t get a chance to pick the chef’s brain for his secrets – besides, I was there to learn Cree, not to learn to cook Cree food – but wouldn’t that be a great language lesson? I used to teach English as a foreign language in Europe, and always got my intermediate students to teach me how to make a traditional dish – in English. I learned a lot of great cooking secrets. But I digress, yet again…

I’ve had Scottish bannock and jam in Scotland, and English scones with cream and jam, even in Devon with real Devonshire clotted cream – but this Cree Zantoon taste experience beats ‘me all. Wonder how that Camas bannock tastes.   Maybe Canadian Cree chef Art Napoleon can teach us how to make that, eh?

Cree words

Bannock = pahkwesikan

Saskatoon Berries = misâskwatômina


3 thoughts on “Zantoon Trifle

Add yours

  1. These sound berry good. Nice job wending your way through the letters to make it to Z in yet another round of the April Challenge. Congratulations and thank you for being a part of it.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

  2. Love the idea of making up a word for Z because I did run across a few, shall we say, unique, words for that post – zyzzynga comes to mind — that were technically sort of real words but started out as made up. So I say go for it!

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