I have to admit that this baking was not truly “campfire baking”, since I used a small oven on top of the propane-fired camp stove. There was a campfire in the vicinity, though.
As you may or may not recall from Part 1, I planned to make a loaf of bread on the second day of our camping trip. I was a little more worried about the loaf of bread than about the pita bread, since pita bread doesn’t need to rise, and thus can’t overproof.
Overproofing was my main worry since I knew that I would have to mix up the dough and let it rise while we were gone riding horses during the day, shape it when we got back, then let it rise a second time and bake it for supper. The timing of the ride we planned to take was very uncertain. My dad couldn’t say exactly how long it would last.
I used a plain french-bread style recipe, halved, from the Baking with Sourdough booklet by Sara Pitzer. Perhaps because she assumes a starter with greater than 50% hydration, I found that I used about a cup less flour than the recipe called for.
I mixed up the dough when it looked like everyone was getting around and we would leave soon. Unfortunately, saddling and adjusting stirrups took way, way longer than it should have, and the morning was warmer than I’d anticipated, so the dough had doubled and needed shaped well before we left.
I shaped it into a boule and put it into the cooler with the ice and cold food, and hoped for the best.
Hours later, when we got back to camp, it had morphed into the dough that ate Manhattan. I didn’t get a picture of it, because my first instinct when confronted by overproofed dough spilling out all over (I’d put it in a pie pan, in a gallon Ziploc storage bag, and it was completely filling the bag) is not to record the moment, but to do some damage control.
There wouldn’t be enough time before supper for the reshaped dough to rise and bake, so I gave up on fresh bread for supper and decided to make cinnamon rolls and warm them up for breakfast.
Cinnamon rolls were not on the menu when we left home, so I didn’t have any powdered sugar for the glaze. Butter, regular sugar and cinnamon were in my parents’ regular camping supplies, though. Instead of glaze I decided to brush them with melted butter and sprinkle them with a thick layer of sugar.
The small camp stove would only hold an eight inch pie pan, so I made two pans of rolls and started baking the first one. I’m not sure how accurate the thermometer was, but about the time it read 300 degrees I put them in, with the rack in the middle position.
I had let the dough rise too long, and the first batch fell a little as I put them in the oven, but just a little.
Before the tops were done, the bottoms were burning. I attribute this to the way the stove is built. There are holes at three levels that the end of the baking rack snaps into, so a lot of the built up heat gets out before it reaches the top of the oven, or that is my theory.
The first pan ended up way too brown on the bottom, so for the second pan, I moved the rack to the top level.
At this point, we discovered that the second pie pan was a 9-inch pan, and wouldn’t fit in the oven, so I had to transfer the rolls to the first pan. It was a dark pan, and to keep the rolls from browning so quickly, I lined it with buttered aluminum foil. In the transfer from one pan to another, the rolls fell a bit.
Between changing the rack position and lining the pan with foil, the second batch of rolls cooked more evenly.
I had worried that because the dough had overproofed, it would really be too sour to make good cinnamon rolls, but they turned out tasting fine. There was a pronounced sour tang to the dough, but it wasn’t too much.
They were best right out of the oven, of course, but not too bad the next morning, either. Still, I consider the pita bread a bigger success all around. I really prefer cinnamon rolls with powdered sugar glaze.
Sometime I would like to try making bread with coals and a dutch oven (the cast iron kind with a rimmed lid for putting coals on top), but I was not brave enough for that this time around.