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Isle of Man Bonnag, Isle of Man

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It is not surprising that a place as isolated as the Isle of Man (until faster ferries and air travel) should have its own particular baking tradition, manifested most obviously in Bonnag. In modern times Bonnag is to be found most often in the form of a crumbly wheat-based cake-cum-scone, often incorporating dried fruit. But until the middle of the 19th century a far different version would have been found.
Nor is it hard to hear the Scots Gaelic Bannock in the word Bonnag, emphasising the linguistic ties of Manx Gaelic and the Scots version. Oats and barley were traditional staples on the island, the use of gluten-free oats meaning flat griddle cakes would have been the norm in peasant kitchens using cheaper home-grown grains. But as wheat became more readily available, along with baking soda and cream of tartar, a raised version developed, dried fruits often added to the dough to improve the interest and flavour.
With the growth of the island as a tourist destination Bonnag became one of the standard items sold in tea-rooms from Port Erin to Ramsey , as it continues to be. The contemporary wheaten type, though, with dried fruit, mixed spice and other flavourings, is a world away from the simple flat-bread from which it originated.

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