We really like fresh bread while we're camping. There is something about bread products that just seems especially good in the woods. Maybe it's the fresh air; maybe it's the appetites that we work up in the woods.
When we talk about bread in the woods, two thoughts seem to flash through folk's minds: "Hey, I can barely handle yeast in the kitchen," and "Yeah, but I'm a tent camper. I can't bake in the woods." Never fear. This article will help.
If you can barely handle yeast in the kitchen, maybe yeast in the campground isn't a great idea. But then, yeast is not temperamental to anything but temperature. If you solve the temperature problems, yeast in the campground is no more difficult than yeast in the kitchen. You need warm enough water to get the yeasty critters growing. Most recipes are going to ask for water in the 105 to 110 degree range. Unless you have a practiced finger, bring a thermometer.
Now you've got to keep the yeasty critters growing. That involves temperature too. Instead of covering your dough with plastic wrap, place the dough, bowl and all, in a large food-safe plastic bag. It'll keep the surface of the dough from drying out, the drafts away from the dough, and you'll have a little mini greenhouse. If you have some sun, you can probably get the dough warm enough for the yeast to work. Once at 11,000 feet in Montana with a youth group, we moved a tent into the brunt of the sun to absorb the afternoon rays and create enough heat to make the dough rise.
But you still don't have an oven. You can use a Dutch oven. You can fry your yeasted bread. (In some parts of the West, these are called scones.) Raised doughnuts-Spudnuts?-are fried yeast breads. We've written before about fried bread.
If you don't want to mess around with the yeast, you can still make some great fried breads. What follows is an easy flatbread recipe. Or try a versatile Sopaipillas Recipe.
You can also make some wonderful steamed breads around a campfire or on a cook stove. Many of these are sweetbreads, maybe even dessert breads, but they can be very good-good enough to make at home.
And of course, you can always rely on pancakes. In fact, pancakes may be one of the most versatile of camping foods. It works on the trail on a backpacking trip, in an RV, and everything in between. You can make them sweet or savory. You can top them with syrups or sauces. You can even stuff them, roll them, and eat them as a burrito.
For more about making bread without an oven or bread in woods, we recommend that you check out our "Emergency and Outdoor Bread Manual"-it's a free download consisting of about 28 pages of goodies.
Here's a good recipe to start with, Indian Flatbread.
This makes a quick side dish to feed the kids, a bread that you can make without an oven, and a great trail bread. You can double or triple the recipe depending on how big your tribe is.
4 cups bread flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup dry milk solids
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
Enough vegetable oil to fill the frying pan to 1/2-inch deep.
Mix the dry ingredients together. Form a depression in the dry ingredients and slowly pour half the water in. Mix and add the remaining water as needed to form a soft but not sticky dough. Knead the dough lightly. Cut pieces from the dough and form them into round discs about 1/4-inch thick.
Heat the oil until hot. When the oil is hot enough, a small piece of the dough placed in the oil should brown quickly but not burn. Slip the dough pieces into the hot oil, fry them until brown on one side, and turn. When done, remove them to paper towels. Serve them hot as a bread or with syrup or honey as a side dish.
Dennis Weaver is the general manager at The Prepared Pantry (http://www.preparedpantry.com) with recipes, ideas, and the best selection of mixes and ingredients. Visit the free Bakers' Library for more articles like this, free baking guides, and tested recipes.