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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Camp Fire Bread

This past weekend we went camping and I decided throw caution to the wind and bake some homemade bread over the camp fire. It was an interesting experiment to say the least. Doesn't that picture above look nice? Well...before you become too impressed, scroll to the bottom of the post for the pictures of the other side of that loaf, and the second loaf. Yeah oops.

I made the bread dough at home the day before we headed out camping. I wrapped each ball of dough in plastic wrap and placed them inside a ziploc bag in the cooler. My plan was to take them out Saturday morning at the campsite to rise. Here comes Mistake #1. I had also pre-baked some potatoes at home in the oven to make homefries for breakfast and I guess they were still a tad warm when I put them in the cooler, right beside my bread dough... (that was dramatic foreshadowing)

When we woke up early Saturday morning and emerged from the tent, the first thing we noticed was that the cooler lid was ajar. OH NO! Racoons! I ran over with dread to survey the damage. My bread had risen inside the cooler, it completely burst through the Ziploc bag (yes it was a GLAD bag not the cheap kind) and then popped the cooler open.

That was some SERIOUS bread! It was all over the cooler, sort of like "attack of the killer bread dough". I managed to gather it back up into balls and I set it to rise. Well, Murphy's Law of course dictated that it wouldn't rise when I WANTED it too..... So I put it in the back of the mini-van with the heater running. Would you like some carbon monoxide with your bread?

Eventually it doubled in size. Here comes Mistake #2... believing Mario. I told him he needed to fix me up a makeshift "oven" in the firepit with a temperature of about 325°F. He said that would be "no problem". He lit about 3000 coals and covered the entire firepit with approximately 75 meters of tin foil. It looked like a space station (which is funny because my second loaf looks a little like an asteroid).

Well the disastrous results of this experiment are plainly obvious. At first I decided not to post this recipe (don't want to become a laughing stock). But my brother, Colin, said that if I didn't he would start his own blog to post all my cooking disasters, it would be called: "Are you still Hungry?"

Surprisingly, the bread tasted very good on the inside, after you cut off the burnt crust. My Mom (who is my biggest fan) ate it burnt crust and all and said it was "quite lovely". I will try this again next time we go camping, but I will reduce the amount of coals by about 2985.

....it gets worse....

Burnt White Camp Fire Bread
original recipe: "Overnight White Bread" from "Breads" by the California Culinary Academy

2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
2 tbsp honey
1 1/2 cup warm milk (105°F to 115°F)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
5 1/2 to 6 cups flour

1. Sprinkle yeast over warm water and 1 tsp honey, let stand five minutes.

2. Stir in milk, rest of honey, salt and butter.

3. Add three cups of flour. Beat until smooth and elastic. Stir in 2 cups more flour to make a soft dough.

4. Turn dough out onto floured board and knead for 10 to 15 minutes (adding just enough flour to prevent from sticking).

5. Divide into two balls, cover with plastic wrap and refridgerate for up too 24 hours.

6. When ready to bake, remove from refridgerator, and let come to room temperature. Shape into loaves and let rise until doubled in bulk.

7. Bake at 375°F for 35 to 40 minutes, until loaves are well browned.