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Campfire cooking: Yes, you 'can'

Who said baked beans has to be the only thing on your campsite menu?

June 09, 2010|By TIFFANY ARNOLD
  • Here's a new idea for your next camping trip: baked bread. Simple ingredients such as sugar, flour, salt, olive oil and yeast mixed into a clean metal coffee tin can result in fresh baked bread.
Photo illustration by Crystal Schelle,

Before you roast another hot dog or build another s'more, consider a couple of alternatives to the same-old campsite fare.

Summertime means camping with the family. So we asked a local chef and local Scouts to share family-friendly recipes that will appeal to the kids as well as Mom and Dad.

They came up with recipes for fresh-baked bread and a twist on camp side classic, s'mores.

Campfire bread

Chef Steven R. Weiss has made moving sculptures of sugar on the fly. But for this recipe, Weiss came up with an adaptable, cost-effective and unlikely recipe for families headed to campsites - fresh-baked bread.

Weiss is the hospitality culinary program coordinator at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College in Martinsburg, W.Va. Weiss has also made several appearances on the Food Network's "Challenge" series, in which teams of chefs face off in food battles for cash prizes.

In this case, all you need to make the bread are two coffee cans, some rocks and a heat source.

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"People seem to have coffee cans hanging around," Weiss said.

To make the bread, bring a cooler with your pre-made foccachia or pizza-style dough - Weiss has provided a recipe for those who might not have a family favorite - plus two sanitized cans used for food or coffee, one much larger than the other.

Place the dough in a greased, smaller can. Just let it sit, covered with foil. Mother Nature will do the rest.

"If the weather's in the 80s or 90s, you probably don't have to leave it out there more than 20 or 30 minutes," Weiss said.

Once the bread rises, place the small can inside the larger can lined with rocks at the bottom. "Essentially, what you're doing is creating your own little oven," Weiss said.

Bake in a campfire that has dwindled down to embers.

"It's going to come out looking like bread, but it's going to come out looking like coffee-can bread," Weiss said. So your bread will be round and have the can rings.

As a variation, diners can use soup cans to create rolls. When the rolls come out, toss shredded cheese in it, add spices.

You can recreate the recipe on a backyard grill.

"It all depends on what you want to do," Weiss said.

English muffins are another possibility, but Weiss said the process of making English muffins is similar to that of a pancake and isn't as low-maintenance as the coffee can bread.

"You have to stay with it or else you're going to burn it," Weiss said.

S'mores, the grown-up version

"A lot of people, when they think of Girl Scouts, they think of cookies," said Lorrie Caudle, regional director of the Martinsburg-based Shenandoah Region, which includes Washington County and parts of West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle.

When you throw the camping in the mix, the mind shifts to s'mores, Caudle said.

Classically, s'mores are the combination of graham crackers, a piece of chocolate and a large, roasted marshmallow. The s'mores recipe as we recognize it today appeared in the Girl Scouts 1927 guide "Tramping and Trailing with Girl Scouts," Caudle said.

The Shenandoah region, which Caudle said has 4,786 members, is under the umbrella of a lager district, the Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capitol.

Caudle said volunteers for another region she worked with put together a book of recipes twisting the s'more recipe on its ear with recipes that would appeal to grown ups.

Caudle shared a recipe for "totally decadent s'mores" that involved the flavors of cheese, chocolate and orange.

Chocolate graham crackers are breaded with mascarpone, chocolate chips and candied orange peels - with a clump of small, gooey marshmallows at its center.

The s'mores are grilled at the center of a cooking grate and served warm.




Campfire bread



Approximately 1 pound bread dough (see recipe)
Butter or oil
1 small coffee or tomato product can, emptied
1 large coffee or No. 10 can of food product, emptied

Allow the fire to burn down to coals. If you're using a backyard grill, coals should be set on medium heat.

Coat the inside of the small coffee can with butter and put the dough inside it. Cover with foil and set in a warm humid place (which shouldn't be a problem in the summer). Allow to rise until approximately doubled in volume, about 30 minutes. Discard foil cover.

Line the bottom of the large can with about 1 inch of pebbles or a stone cut to the same diameter on the can base (if you plan on doing this multiple times) to keep the bread from burning on the bottom. Set the small can inside the large one, making sure the sides don't touch, and then insert the large can into the coals, burying about 2 to 3 inches of the bottom. Cover the top with foil and poke a few holes. Check by lifting foil in about 20 to 30 minutes.

The bread is done when brown on top.

Cook's note: Use cans that have only had food products before. Be sure to wash, rinse and sanitize your cans before use.




Bread dough



1 cup warm water, about 105 degrees Fahrenheit
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon instant active yeast

Place in a bowl water, salt, sugar, oil, flour and yeast. Mix for 5 to 7 minutes.

Freeze the dough.

-recipes courtesy of Chef Steven R. Weiss




Totally decadent s'mores



1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon finely chopped candied orange peel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
24 chocolate graham crackers, each 2-1/2 inches square
1 cup mini marshmallows

Mix cheese, chocolate chips, orange peel and vanilla. Spread one teaspoon of the mixture on each cracker. Top 12 crackers with 7 to 8 marshmallows.

Place crackers in the center of a cooking grate.

Grill for 2 minutes. Serve warm.

Makes 12 servings.

- Recipe provided by Girls Scout regional director Lorrie Caudle, on the behalf of the Martinsburg, W.Va. based Shenandoah Region, part of the of the Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Captiol. The recipe is from a booklet was compiled by Virginia-based volunteers

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