Backyard Bread Baking
By: Susan Peters with photography by Robert Peters, Living North
Most food seems to taste better when it’s cooked outdoors over a fire, and bread is no exception. With a few cooking tips, fire-roasted flatbreads and fire pit-baked loaves can grace a picnic table or be a welcome treat at campfire meals.
Barbecue Bread Loaves:
Loaves of artisan yeast breads were baked in wood-fired ovens long before the advent of the modern oven, and there is a resurgence of interest in this method of bread baking, as well as baking bread loaves in a fire pit or on a barbecue grill.
Professional baker François Médion says, “The trick to baking bread in any
situation is getting the temperatures right. Wood-fired ovens are very hot, so they bake the bread quickly and produce a desirable, dense crust.” For replication in a fire pit or over a grill, Medion reccommends the use of an oiled cast iron Dutch oven with a lid, heated to 500° (a laser thermometer is helpful here). Plop the dough into the Dutch oven, cover it, move it to a slightly cooler side of the grill or fire pit and let it bake for 30 minutes. Then, remove the lid and let the bread bake another 10 to 15 minutes, until it sounds hollow when tapped or when it has reached an internal temperature of 205° to 210° when tested with an instant-read thermometer.
A very simple and inexpensive way to get started baking bread loaves outdoors is to use a recipe that is chemically leavened,
making it quick to prepare. It’s versatile enough to bake on a sheet pan in a regular oven, in a cast iron Dutch oven over a grill or campfire or even wrapped around skewers and roasted over an open fire. The recipe is
easy to transport and mix, making it ideal for camping.
In Australia, this kind of bread is called Damper Bread, and it is still made by the Aborigines, by slipping the dough into hot ashes around
the fire, letting the bread bake, and brushing off the ash once the baked
bread is retrieved from the fire pit.
Simple Flatbreads: FOOD
The simplest way to have a grilled bread experience is to purchase a prebaked bread product and doctor it using small bits of cooked meat and vegetables, cheese and herbs. Flatbread, pita bread, Indian naan and pre-made pizza crusts all hold up well when grilling. Set up the grill or campfire for indirect heat and brush the grate and the bread with a bit
of oil. Grill the bread on each side to heat it, 30 seconds to four minutes, depending on the bread’s thickness. Remove from heat and spread a thin layer of toppings onto one side of the dough. Slip the dough back onto the grill to heat the toppings and melt the cheese. Covering the
grill during this final baking will speed up the process.
Easy Pizza Party:
Purchase refrigerated tubes of fresh pizza dough, or defrost frozen bread
dough, and let it come to room temperature. Flour the dough and roll it out into personal-size pizzas. Heat your grill or fire so there is a very hot section and a medium-hot section. Oil the grates well and drizzle oil all over the dough. Slap the dough onto the hot section of the grill. Once the dough begins to bubble and puff up, flip it over to cook the other side. Slide dough to the medium-hot side of the grill or fire and quickly sprinkle on toppings. Finish cooking the pizza over the medium-hot side of the fire, rotating it often to avoid uneven baking. A pizza stone can also be used on a grill: just heat it up over hot coals for at least ten minutes
Quick Camper Bread
Quick Camper Bread
Yield: 1 loaf, or 12 servings if cooked on skewers
This rustic bread, based on Australian Damper Bread, can be assembled, baked, and ready to eat in less than an hour. Carry the pre-mixed dry ingredients with you when you go camping for a homey on-the-trail treat to accompany a soup or stew.
4 c self rising flour
1/2 c instant nonfat dry milk
1 c Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp Italian seasonings
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1¾ cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
At home method:
Preheat your oven to 425°. Oil a cast iron Dutch oven, cover with lid, and
heat in the oven while the oven is preheating. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, dry milk, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasonings, and
black pepper. Add of 1½ water and the oil, if using. With your hands or a wooden spoon, stir ingredients until they form a dough, adding up to another 1/4 cup of water if needed. Dump the dough onto a floured surface
and knead until it is soft and smooth. Form the dough into a disc about eight inches in diameter and 1½ inches thick. Slip it into the hot Dutch oven. Make 4 or 5 slices across the top of the dough with a sharp knife so the dough can easily expand as it rises and bakes. Cover the Dutch oven, place it on the middle rack and bake for 25 minutes. Reduce heat to
375°, remove the lid and continue baking another 10 to 15 minutes, or until top is nicely browned, the bread sounds hollow when tapped, and the bread is 205° to 210°. Remove bread from Dutch oven and let rest on a
rack for ten minutes.
In a gallon zip-top plastic bag, combine the flour, dry milk, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasonings and black pepper. Seal bag and shake it to blend ingredients. Open bag and add water and olive oil, if using. Force as much air out of the bag as possible, seal and knead ingredients
together with your hands until it forms a dough, about two to three minutes. There are several options for cooking this dough. It can be dumped onto a double layer of oiled aluminum foil, sealed and buried in
the hot ash of a fire pit to bake for about 30 minutes (the time will depend on how hot your fire is). Or, wrap 1/2-cup globs of dough
around sticks or skewers and hold over the white-hot coals of open fire or grill to bake for about ten minutes. Dough can also be baked in a Dutch oven over a fire.
Local Bread Bakers Unite:
Known for his contributions to the successful breads made at
the Amazing Grace Bakery in Duluth, professional bread baker François Médion is in the process of organizing a Duluth Bread Club. Médion’s vision
is an association where professional bakers and bread enthusiasts will bake bread together and exchange tips, techniques and recipes. Watch for
details about the club on the Duluth Grill web site, DuluthGrill.com