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Baking at Camp

I went camping this last weekend and have some updates regarding baking with a dutch oven.  First, I wanted to mention that I got into a conversation with one of my wife's great-aunt's who is a big sourdough maker!  She loves sourdough and has tons of recipes, not just bread, using a sourdough starter.  As I patiently await those to arrive in the mail, including one for a sourdough chocolate cake!  I can't wait to try it out.

I decided to take the time to attempt baking bread away from the modern day use of ovens by using a dutch oven such as many of our ancestors may have had while settling this great country in which we live.  I will post pictures at the end of the 2 loaves I did, both of which came out very well.    I took charcoal with me and after warming them up, I placed them in a fire pit, ringing a dutch oven. I made the mistake of placing the dutch oven directly on the coals when I did biscuits the morning before, which baked well except for getting too hot on the bottom of the oven and burning the bottom of the biscuits. Other than that, they were excellent.  So with the charcoal on the side, it more evenly heated the oven without putting too much heat in one spot.

I let the oven warm up for about 10 mins, then placed the first loaf into the oven.  Its the one with the lighter crust. I baked for 20 minutes and pulled it out immediately, not wishing to repeat the burning on the bottom as the biscuits. I did avoid that, and the loaf did bake fine but it was a bit soft once it cooled.  The crust wasn't as stiff, but the crumb had a great taste and texture.  It was a nice, mild sour taste from my sourdough starter which took off wonderfully while on the campout.   The second loaf also baked 20 minutes, but could have gone a bit less.  It got a much better crust with the same tender crumb but one side which was touching the side of the oven did burn a bit.  It never was noticed though when folks ate it, as neither loaf lasted long.   I must admit I liked the second loaf better myself, as it did have more of the typical crust you'd except in a artisian loaf. I honestly was expecting more heat loss when doing the second loaf, but instead I actually got increased heat I think, due to just more time on the coals and the cast iron holding the heat so well. I could have easily baked 2 to 3 more loaves with just that one set of coals.  Also, I found some great dutch oven parchments specifically shaped for their use, which saved me from having to measure and cut out my own. It allowed an easy and effective way to lower the loaves into the oven a lot easier than any other method I could have imagined.

Overall I LOVED the use of the dutch oven, even better than  my oven at home.  Its not the heat control really, as I'm sure I have better heat control in my oven at home with my baking stone, but with the size of the loaf just a tad smaller than the oven it seemed like I definitely got a better overall and even bake.  The only thing I would do differently would be the use of a round wire rack or if I could find one a round baking stone that would fit inside the dutch oven.  That would help prevent the greater risk of burning of the bottom I was battling.

The Pictures:


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 14th, 2008 05:38 am (UTC)
Your bread kicks ASS! :) YUM!!!!
Aug. 18th, 2008 03:54 am (UTC)
I've created a link to this post in the "Experiences" section of our newest "Cast Iron Around the Web" entry at http://www.cookingincastiron.com

--Rick Mansfield
Aug. 18th, 2008 08:02 pm (UTC)
Bread in the Dutch Oven
Fascinating stuff! I've been learning how to do breads in my dutch oven all this last year. Here are some of the ones I've done:
And my own sourdough:
Aug. 22nd, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
I'm new here, just wanted to say hello and introduce myself.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


arnold squint

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