Fireplace Bread… (Ya don’t need beer)

One thing I really enjoy is cooking, more specifically, camp/type cooking.  When I’m working from home, I enjoy bringing the outdoors indoors, and that means fireplace cooking.

I’m constantly tweaking my cooking methods, so my camp cooking becomes easier, more compact, and more streamlined—Granted cooking in a fireplace is still more controlled than cooking over an open fire outdoors, but are still similar enough to really bring in the joy of being in the outdoors.

Baking a nice hearty bread without the added conveniences of a dutch oven, or other kitchen conveniences, really is a great way to spend some camping time indoors, or outdoors.

… I know, I know, If I like cooking so much why have I never done it at any of the Dirttime events? What, and not let the Jensens’ share their wonderful and glorious meals with everyone? I don’t think so.

Let’s start with the basics of some sweet bread:

Get a nice fire going, so you can get some nice hot, glowing embers.

While the fire is going get to mixing your batter. This is just a beer bread recipe, WITHOUT THE BEER. I honestly don’t get the hang up with people saying you need beer, because the yeast in the beer helps it rise… Hello, no you don’t… Not even with self rising flour, which you are making here. Plus beer is not something I carry in my pack

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 TBSP baking powder (Not baking Soda). You may choose to use a bit less baking powder
  • a little more than 1/2 cup of sugar, or adjust to suit your taste
  • 1 tsp of salt

In a container, begin mixing all the dry ingredients together. Make sure they are thoroughly mixed. Next, begin adding water, while you stir everything together. I don’t have a set amount of water, I just add water until I have a nice thick and creamy consistency.— Thicker than pancake batter is what you are looking for.

Once everything is well mixed, pour it into a bread baking container about the size of a brick. Of course you can also use a pie pan if you like… It’s up to you.

Next place the pan between two stacked bricks and the grate. The bricks act as a heat reflector for the side facing you. and the double stack helps bring some heat down on top of the bread.

You can also add bricks to to the ends for a more redirected heat source, and control cross drafts.

Of course, I could have placed the pan between the back of the fireplace and the fire, and even in between the sides of the fireplace and the fire and I’ve done it, but I like like to play with different configurations and the bricks allow me that flexibility.

Typically, if I can bring my hand to within a couple of inches of the pan, all the way around, and count for five seconds before it is to hot to keep my hand there, I figure I have about 350 degrees worth of heat going on.

About every 15 minutes, turn the pan around, so the opposite side has a chance to be near the fire side. This helps bake the bread evenly.

Since this isn’t a dutch oven, or standard oven, it’s going to take more time to bake. Environmental factors, such as breeze and outside temps will also be a factor, when trying to duplicate this outdoors. Because of that, I don’t have a set time. Instead, I gauge it’s progress on the way it looks, rather than the time it takes. If you elect to do this in your kitchen oven, it’s about an hour of time.

Once the top starts to slightly brown and I can insert a twig and pull it out cleanly, with no batter sticking to it, I know it’s done. At this point, I take it out of the fire and set it aside to cool a few minutes.

Once a bit cooled, take it out of the pan and slice up. It makes a delicious bread that everyone will enjoy. What’s more, this bread is so easy to make, you’ll be trying it out outdoors on your next trip.

Try tweaking the recipe to include less sugar and a bit more salt and perhaps some italian herbs to give it a different flavor. Add some melted butter and or grated cheese over other variations.

…They key is to have fun and play.

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