Only one person made the sautie bannock, and she was not allowed to speak. The other girls would try to tease her into speaking.
A ring would be worked into the dough. The cooked bannock was shared out amongst the unmarried women present; whoever got the piece with the ring would be the next to be married.
The fire to cook sautie bannock had to be made from straw, ideally taken from a firstborn’s cradle.
Sautie bannock was also made on Hallowe’en as a Samhain bannock; these ones had soot in them. The bannock would be made by four or five single women working together in silence. A small bit of soot would be added. They were not supposed to speak until the next morning. They would each take a piece of the bannock to put under their pillow that night in order to dream about who would be their husband.
To make the soot version of the cake properly, you would use the “first egg of a young hen”, along with soot, a meal of some kind, and salt. The ratio given in some sources is 1 part soot, 1 part meal, 1 part salt, 1 egg.
Sautie bannock used to be made on what would now be the 12th of November on our calendar. That’s when Hallowe’en (31 October) fell in British ruled countries until the Gregorian calendar adjustments were adopted in 1752.
“Sautie” comes from the Gaelic word for “soot”, which was “suidh.”