The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Camp baking?????

Erzsebet Gilbert's picture
Erzsebet Gilbert

Camp baking?????

Oh, please help the wandering baker!  How can I bake while I camp?

This is my first post... I'm a writer and traveler living in Hungary, and though I've only been baking for half a year I absolutely adore it - it's my meditation and my refuge and my reward!  But here's my problem...

My husband and I are planning our next journey - we'll be spending seven months living out of our '77 Volkswagon bus, camping around the Mediterranean.  Not that I'm not thrilled at the trip, but I've realized and am having a secret crisis over the fact that I am my oven will be torn apart for so long!  I don't want to stop baking, and I'm hoping that somebody, anybody, has some sort of recipe to use on the road.  

While we camp we survive mostly off of a Coleman gas stove, and I have one recipe that I've confirmed works - Indian chapatis, just an unleavened flatbread browned on a tava and toasted in the flames.   I've also got a bamboo steamer with which to make mantou, leavened Chinese steam buns, and though I haven't tried it I think I can do that on the stove fairly easily.  

But I am desparate to learn any other methods with which I can bake, particularly simple leavened breads or even a quick bread, while on the road.  Today I've read an article which claimed one can bake almost any leavened or quick bread by steaming the risen dough in a cleaned-out tin can resting in a pot of boiling water, but I haven't tried.  Does anybody know if this is valid, and if so, how long a steaming, and how to know when the bread is done?  Any other ideas or recipes to make while camping???  

ilovetodig's picture

You might try some of the open fire or dutch oven cooking sites for recipes.  I have seen some bread cooking on shows on TV (RFDTV).  Also I have heard about Hobo Bread that was cooked on a fire by hobos during the depression, but don't have a recipe for it.   We cooked biscuit dough wrapped around a stick and cooked over a open fire, then stuffed a heated link sausage into it when we were in Camp Fire Girls and it was so delicious.  Bread dough might work that way too. 

Marni's picture

When I was a kid my mother had an oven that went on the coleman propane camp stove.  You can see one like it  here:

I just googled coleman camp oven and there are many varieties to choose from at different prices.

Hope this helps.

Erzsebet Gilbert's picture
Erzsebet Gilbert

As this is my first post on The Fresh Loaf, I am so surprised and delighted that people are responding so swiftly and so helpfully!  I'll check out all of these recommendations... thank you!

sphealey's picture

Here is a link to an experiment I did with baking no-knead bread in a dutch oven whilst camping.  This is in the central midwest US where it is possible to use wood for fires/coals, so I had a powerful heat source (too powerful as you will see).   The general principle should apply though.


hsmum's picture

Here are 2 quickbread recipes from an old cookbook.  It sounds like both recipes were baked in old juice cans by homesteaders or in Dutch ovens.  I haven't tried them yet myself, but they came to mind when I read your post.


1 cup whole wheat or graham flour

1/2 cup white flour

1 cup cornmeal

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 3/4 cups thick sour milk or buttermilk

1/3 cup molasses

1/3 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup raisins

Combine flours, cornmeal,soda & salt.  Mix together buttermilk, molasses and sugar and add to dry ingredients.  Stir in raisins.  If you want fairly dainty portions of this bread, divide dough into 3 portions and pour into large foodcans (approx. 20 oz or 568 mL).  if you don't mind larger circles, use cleaned coffee cans. Whatever the size you choose, cut off the top completely before cleaning & grease well.  Cover the cans tightly with foil and place on a rack in a large pot -- something like a canner or a Dutch oven.  Pour boiling water into the pot so that the water reaches halfway up the cans.  Cover the canner or Dutch oven and let the steaming continue for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, depending on the size of can used.  When done, turn bread out of the tins onto a baking sheet and put them into a hot oven just long enough to dry the surface -- about 3 to 4 minutes.



1 1/2 cups hot water

3 3/4 cups raisins

4 tsp baking soda

4 tbsp margarine

1 cup white sugar

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp salt

3 eggs

4 cups flour

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, pour hot water over raisins.  Stir in soda and mix well. Add margarine, white sugar & brown sugar, vanilla, salt, eggs, flour.  mix well.  Fold in walnuts last.  Grease eight 14 oz cans (or a size thereabouts) and fill half full with the mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) for 45 minutes. 


Erzsebet Gilbert's picture
Erzsebet Gilbert

Again, all my gratiutude to every baker who's responded so sweetly to my questions... Unfortunately, I haven't got a Dutch oven, and the closest thing here in Hungary is a kind of soup pot called a bogracs which doesn't look quite fitting, but I've just looked at everybody's brown bread and hobo recipes, a few more after some Google utilization, and a few coffee-can and tinfoil ideas, bread-on-a-stick... Now, I'm actually excited to come up with camp baking notions!  Thank you, everybody!


ejm's picture

My sister has baked a cake in her wok (setting the cake tin on a footed rack in the wok that has some water in it and covering the wok with a lid)

And we've baked buns in our barbecue. I don't know if you have a lidded barbecue or not....


Susan's picture

Hi Erzsebet,

It sounds like English Muffins would be perfect for you. 

Type English Muffins into the Search box on the left side of any TFL page and you'll find lots of information and recipes, too.

Have fun on your trip!  Keep us informed, please.  We'd love to hear from you.

Susan from San Diego

Erzsebet Gilbert's picture
Erzsebet Gilbert

Hello, Susan!

I've tried English muffins before, one of my dishonorable disasters - my question is whether it's best for the dough to be more of a batter, or firm?  I couldn't figure it out, and grew rather skittish.  

As for the travels, I have a blog - - and I'll be posting regularly from the road, including all my baking experiments.  And I have a personal mission to learn a local bread recipe from every country (we're hoping for 15!) we visit, so I'll be putting those up, too! 

Thanks for your advice - what a fabulous community...

Erzsebet Gilbert's picture
Erzsebet Gilbert

Wow, to everybody, thanks again...  

A quick update: tonight I will be playing with a pita recipes that permits book in-oven baking and on-the-griddle; I'll post those results, but before I begin, any tips?  

Tomorrow, I'm planning upon having a scary experimental night - hopefully, I will try the above Boston brown bread recipe and possibly hobo bread.  One question: when steaming bread in a can, do I need to adjust baking times for smaller cans?  Is it apporpriate to test the center of a can-loaf with a thermometer?  What's my goal temperature?  

Also, I remember reading a Mother Earth camping blog which claimed you could make almost any bread dough in a steamed can, much like Boston brown... I'm thinking of trying it with my basic white dough.  Any tips here?


ejm's picture

This is how we cooked pita on the stovetop one day when our oven refused to work, pretty much the same way as we cook chapatis. The final puffing (on the rack in the photo) could be done directly on a grill over a fire.

pita cooking on stovetop (photo ejm Feb2006)


(Our Pita recipe)

madzilla's picture

I would think your best best is to get ahold of a cast iron pot with lid. Hungary is home of the stew, so I would think you could find one somewhere. You might ask around, talk to friends, network a bit, and you might come up with someone who has an extra that they might give you. Then with a bit of ingenuity, an old oven grate, some bricks, you could build a nice stove over an open camp fire, and use the pot right on top to bake your goods. It's the cowboy way over here, and it works great!

Good luck:-)