The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking Bread At Sea

Kathy R.'s picture
Kathy R.

Baking Bread At Sea

Hi Everyone! I'm Kathy.  I just found this site and I'm excited by all the resources here. I'm moving on to a sailboat in July t will be baking all our bread as we cruise. I'm new at the bread stuff. I can make a decent loaf but want to improve my technique and expand my repertoire before we go! So, I'll be reading and practicing and learning as much a I can. Thanks for this wonderful site.


K

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Welcome to TFL, K. 


Freshwater or saltwater sailing?

Kathy R.'s picture
Kathy R.

Hi Lindy, thanks for the welcome.  We'll be sailing in the big blue ocean. We've got a 47' sailboat and that will be our home for the next chapter in our lives. Plan is to cruise the Caribbean for a while and then perhaps cross the Atlantic and cruise the Mediterranean if we feel we can handle the crossing.  I'll need to learn how to make bread in rolling seas!


 


Kathy

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Just be careful to remind the Captain not to change course while your bread is in the oven.  Changing compass directions will result in uneven browning.


If you believe that, I have one of those bridges for sale  :>}


Welcome to TFL

Kathy R.'s picture
Kathy R.

Very funny!  Tomorrow I'm going to try the flaxsee/wheat recipe that was posted in the blog spot. It looks great. I imagine it will take lots of practice.


BTW, does anyone use the fold method that I've read about rather than traditional kneading? Would you recommend it?


Kathy

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Since I learned to stretch and fold I no longer knead.  IMO, kneading is not worth the time and effort.

Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

Hi There,


I'm not half jealous of your future venture..good luck. I have just done my first couple of loaves using the fold method.......the result is a little bit heavier bread but it sure is nice and worth the effort. A heavier bread for energy at sea may be what you need when sailing. My bread had plenty of small air pockets with a creamy crumb. I used  bread flour and and another loaf on all purpose flour(or plain flour in Australia). I much preferred the result on bread flour. I also placed  corn meal in the flour to increase the fibre content of the bread. This is my own experiment I've not seen used before with No Knead. Still a good result with a lovely golden crumb. Check out "No Knead Bread" on google and look for the New York Times article and recipe. I used more dried instant yeast than stated so be prepared to experiment with this as well. However good this loaf is I am not giving up on my ciabatta.


Bon Voyage and Bon Appetite................Aussie Pete.

jeremiahwasabullfrog's picture
jeremiahwasabullfrog

how exciting! A cruising sailboat is my recurring daydream. I envy you. I have been looking at hartley sailing boats lately, have you come across them?


Re: the kneading, it is more gentle on both the dough and you to stretch and fold say 4 times at 10 minute intervals (after an initial autolyse). I also think it gives better gluten development. It is generally better with wetter dough though, a really stiff dough will be hard to stretch without tearing, which is bad for the gluten. It can be done with stiff dough if you are slow and gentle in the stretching.


I think the basic idea is that if you put the dough under tension, the strands align themselves during the rest period. I think it is more efficient too, than pushing the dough every which way during conventional kneading.


 


 

Kathy R.'s picture
Kathy R.

Thanks for the tips on this. I've never tried it and want to learn how. I also want to try baking in a cast iron dutch oven. I'm reading everything I can about it. 


Haven't looked at Hartleys. We looked at lots of boats when we were buying but never saw a Hartley.


 

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Kathy, no joke here.  I wonder if you'll have Internet access at sea and if you'd be willing to try an experiment using sea water as a substitute for the salt and water your formula might otherwise recommend, and let us know the results.  Sea water should be about 3 - 3.5% salt which, in a 100% hydration dough, would be fairly adequate for an appropriate flavoring and yeast influence in the dough.

Kathy R.'s picture
Kathy R.

Sure. I'd be happy to try it and let you know how it works!


 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Hi Kathy,


Baking at sea can be fun. The trick is to locate places on board where you know the temperature will suit your needs. In the Caribbean it's not such a problem to find a warm spot but elsewhere that can be a challenge. A cooler in the engine room is usually the warmest place that is semi stable temp wise. You need to provide a place to ferment at around the 74F range. It's 84F today in St Maartin so a small ice pack in a cooler might be called for. I don't think there is anything better than a meal on-board a sailing vessel at the end of a day at sea. Enjoy.


Eric

Kathy R.'s picture
Kathy R.

Hi Eric. I'd been thinking about how to get stable temps for fermenting. I hadn't thought about the engin room but it makes sense in cooler climates. I agree that food really good on deck during sunset after sailing all day. Can't wait!


Kathy

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Hi and welcome Kathy
What an adventure ahead for you. I have a Hartley 21 footer but i cant get my crew to go out onto the ocean they are quite happy in the river and worse still have the ducati 10 horse power diesel chugging us along.We do have to lower the mast for 3 bridges to get out into the Indian Ocean. Although my wife does enjoy the quite being under sail as long as we dont heel over more than a few degrees.
Sea water is great in bread so if you dont have a fresh water maker onboard and you have clean water all around dont be afraid to use some of it, or even 50 /50 if you think it might be to salty.
We will love to hear about your adventure, sourcing provisions and different flours etc as well as little bakers shops around the world.
Any help we can give we will try our best, might even be able to meet up with you with TFL members out there far and wide.
REGARDS YOZZA

Kathy R.'s picture
Kathy R.

Thanks, Yozza. I'm with your wife about baking and cooking under sail.  No big heels while cooking!  I am fairly new to bread making so I'm looking forward to learning. I don't speak math (other languages, yes, but not math) and so I may ask silly questions.


We have a Gulfstar 47 and really love it. We really are looking forward to setting sail! We do have a watermaker, but I think using sea water would be fun!

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Sea water is alive  and is great


my wife isn't coking when she complains about heeling over just underway is enough for her without cooking.


love to see a picture of the boat and the galley what will you be baking with  electric ?


The above reminds me of an aussie joke where a bloke puts a ad in the paper "gent seeking lady must be able to clean fish and have a boat, please send picture of boat".


You mentioned using a dutch oven for baking in, i have found these to be great even using one to bake bread in the camp fire place when away on a fishing trip, although heavy to cart along well worth it for its versatility. not to be used as a flotation device.


regards yozza  


 

Kathy R.'s picture
Kathy R.

I will try to remember not to take the dutch oven over with me in case we have to ditch! We have a gas oven and I have baked some in it, but not much bread.  I want to spend the next six months getting my bread skills up so that we can have bread while on long cruises. I'm also going to learn to fish.  Then we can have fishes and loaves! HA!


I'll post pics soon.

ruth hurst's picture
ruth hurst

A friend was part of a 5 person crew aboard a sail boat that participated in the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) race. From Gran Canaria to St. Lucis, during the 16 day's it took them to cross, they had fresh bread most nights! I was so pleased to read about it and of course their adventure in their daily blogs aboard the "Fizz of Cowes".


What fun!


 

Kathy R.'s picture
Kathy R.

Does sound like lots of fun!  I'm looking forward to blogging about baking and cooking at sea. It will be a new context for me!  Sixteen - 20 days is about what it takes, I hear. Lots of baking!


 

gcook17's picture
gcook17

When we were cruising we didn't have an oven so we used the pressure cooker with the lid but without the weight on it to bake bread.  We did it on top of one of the stove's kerosene burners with a diffuser under the cooker to spread out the heat evenly.  It worked really well and the bread tasted great.


-greg

Kathy R.'s picture
Kathy R.

That's an interesting thought. I might try using a pressure cooker for baking to see how it works. I know I'll be using it for cooking lots (having a lid that locks on is a big plus when the boat is rolling), but hadn't considered baking.


 

shallots's picture
shallots

The stove our sailboat came with has an oven and three burners and is propane fired.  I'm still working on how much propane it needs to keep the oven going for an hour or so, for long term planning.  I'm also uncertain if it can hold temperature well or not  (mostly I prefer doing stirfry). 


I've liked to have my old camping stove (two burner) as a back up because I've always been more comfortable with it. 


Hint: make sure your boatmates also love the smell of bread rising.

wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

We have a Force 10, 3 burner with oven on our trawler.


I make bread in it, but have to be very careful not to burn the bottom. This occur even when using quarry tiles. I usually leave a small pan with water on the floor until near the end of baking. The other problem is that I cannot get the oven really hot as needed for hearth type breads with nice brown crust. I can get a little better browning by using milk or egg wash. I also have to be careful when using the middle rack postition that the bread doesn't rise and touch the top. Keep us informed of your adventures.


Our blog is at http://flukeblog.blogspot.com where you might find some Pizza and English Muffin pics as well.


wayne

Kathy R.'s picture
Kathy R.

I'm not sure of the make of the oven on the boat. It's also a three burner with oven and I have used it to make quick breads and muffins, but no yeast bread.  I have had some trouble with burning the bottom of these things, and haven't really learned to controll the temperature very well yet.  It will be a challenge, but I'm looking forward to it.


Love your blog! Very nice pics!

yozzause's picture
yozzause

lovely blog and lovely pictures and a very handsome boat


regards yozza

clazar123's picture
clazar123

That may be a question more than a statement. Your situation sounds lovely but,practically speaking,is this something to plan for?


In a warm, moist environment, you may want to use flours that are less oily and figure out how to store them to keep them dry so mold/oxidation don't occur.Also, there may be critter eggs in the flour that may hatch in that warm,moist environment. Do some of the sailors have any ideas on how to either treat or store the flour to minimize this? Sealed buckets with oxygen absorbers or dry ice at the start?


Please do blog and let us travel with you! I followed a vessel a number of years ago and it was such a lovely experience for this landlubber.It was a teaching vessel and had a different crew every 6 months or so. And they travelled everywhere! That was before the term "blog" was invented. they posted to a website and could be emailed periodically. Every week or so, a new crew member would be in charge of the content.It was lovely!

Kathy R.'s picture
Kathy R.

That's an excellent question. I have read that some sailors take whole grain and grind it as they use it. I would be happy to get advice on this topic. Thanks!


K

ehanner's picture
ehanner

One of the realities of sailing in warm climates is the presence of roaches and other bugs. The best practice is to never bring cardboard boxes aboard for longer than it takes to empty them. The eggs can be found in the gaps of the corrugation. You should have a service from the area fumigate every inch to be rid of the roaches and be prepared to take immediate action on your own with commercial products when they re appear which they will.What ever storage system you use will have to be able to securely seal against the smallest critters. Bring a sifter.


Grain (and when ground, flour) has larva and eggs that hatch in dry environments. You can get a leg up on the larva by bringing grain that has been stored in a freezer for at least 2 weeks, which supposedly kills the larva. Space is limited on a ship/boat, especially freezer space. I have always had freezers that were powered by a compressor that was turned by the engine running. That means every day the ships engine runs for an hour or so to recharge the batteries and re freeze the cooler. I'm sure there are other units but that's what I'm familiar with. Depending on the size of the freezer, you might bring a couple 2 gallon bags of wheat berries and one of rye berries that had been frozen for a while. Get a hand grinder for $50. and grind as needed. Otherwise, double zip lock bags for white flour is about all you can do. Just buy what you can use in a few days which should be fine in the Caribbean. You're never far from a grocery. A few phone calls ahead would be prudent to discover if they even have flour.


 


Eric

ruth hurst's picture
ruth hurst

We use propane for our full sized ovens, both here at the house and on the Island. Here at home, a 100 lber lasts us all winter long, (Nov - May) and we use the oven A LOT. So, depending on the size of your tank - unless it was 25 lbs or less, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Is it possible to have a spare tank on board? If so, fill them up, set sail and get that dough fermenting! 


Also, if you are baking for 2, something I am just now getting my head around being an very recent empty nester, those loaves might just last more than a day. Bonus being that they only taste better as they "age" assuming they are sourdough.


On a different note...A friend gave me an awesome corn bread recipe. We serve it to our Guests at the Lodge on Rib Night. If you like, I could post it.


Greg, I would love to learn more about baking in a pressure cooker.... Any hints and tips?


In the meantime, I am going to ask my Caribbean chef friend about flour storage. I'm pretty sure they use well sealed containers, but there may be more to it. 


Take care! 


Ruth


 

Kathy R.'s picture
Kathy R.

Thanks for the tips. Once we move on board, we won't have the house anymore (or car for that matter) so one thought that I had was that perhaps I could ask the local grocer up the street from the marina where we are currently docked to put some flour in their big freezer for us for a coupld of weeks before we leave port.  From that point on, the suggestions that Eric made are just what I need to know.


We have lots of propane (four tanks) and each seems to last for several months, even with daily cooking and baking so we should be ok with baking.


Ruth, I'd love to have the cornbread recipe. 


I'd attach pictures of the boat, but I can't figure out how to do it on this forum. Advice?


Kathy

ruth hurst's picture
ruth hurst

As much as I love Peter Reinhart's recipes, I found that our Guests appreciate this recipe much more. I do on occasion add the bacon bits to the top like Peter does, it adds a savory flavour that compliments the sweet & spicy hot-ness of the bread.


1 cup butter


1 cup white sugar


4 eggs


1 (15 oz) can creamed corn


1/4 cup (more or less depending on how hot you like it) Jalapeno's chopped. (I use canned up here in the Great White North)


1/2 cup Monterey Jack or another nice creamy cheese shredded


1/2 cup shredded cheddar


4 tsp baking powder


1 cup AP flour


1 cup corn meal


1/4 tsp salt


1/2 or so of real bacon bits


Beat butter & sugar together, add eggs one at a time. Blend in corn, chiles and cheese.


Add dry ingredients. 


Stir till smooth, slop it into 9x13-ish pan, pat bacon bits into the surface. 


Bake for 1 hour - till tooth pick test doneness. 


Enjoy!


I was also thinking about your oven, we have a similar one, (3 burners & a little oven) in one of our cabins at the Lodge. I have on occasion had to use it. Long story and I don't want to change topics here. 


Anyway - I would give the pan a 180 turn half way thru the bake. Just to ensure an even bake. It's pretty old though, so maybe this won't apply to your new boat?


I agree with an earlier post, if you can, try the oven out on a few things first before you head out to the open seas.... it might help you decide what to pack for those first few initial meals and baked stuff. 


 


I like the idea of asking the grocer to freeze your dry goods. I know ours here would do it for me if I asked. Living in a small town does have it's attributes at times.


 

Kathy R.'s picture
Kathy R.

Thanks so much for the recipe. I can't wait to try it!  The oven on the boat is old. Heck, the boat is old (30 yars) but we've made it a project to get the teak gleaming and all the systems in good shape for cruising during this year before we take off.


Kathy

shallots's picture
shallots

You MUST test it ashore first.  Also test the fuel lines and replace where necessary.


European boats of that vintage depended on a highter pressured propane tank than the US portable tanks that we pick up at the local gas stations.  Also, in the past 30 years, there have been major changes in where you may legally keep a propane tank on board. We have had to move our tank(s) and run the lines differently.


Our boat used to be a blue water cruiser used internationally as a charter boat.  It even had an organ for singing along.  There was a crazy assortment of cooking stuff..deep bowls and heavier pans than I would have thought useful for a boat. I found NO indication that they stored flour but apparently went  for potatoes and rice instead. 


If you can find some of the flexible water bladders that fit into odd spaces (of which sail boats have hundreds), they can be filled with wheat or flour.  Some shipmates get fussy about using all sort of storage spaces.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Kathy,


I just picked up on the fact that you have lots of propane tanks. Some time ago, the maritime boating industry stopped installing anything that required Propane. When you said your boat was 30 years old, before the knowledge of the danger of a heavier than air gas was considered important, It suddenly made me concerned you might not be aware of the issue.


When you have a leak or the flame blows out with propane, the hull fills up with the heavier than air gas. The resulting explosion blows the deck off the hull quite nicely.


The alternative is to use Compressed Natural Gas, which is lighter than air and a leak would simply migrate out of the boat upward into the atmosphere, safely.


I know there may be some who would down play the seriousness of this matter but I urge you to inquire at the marina about converting the gas jets on your stove for CNG and look into getting a supply of the smaller CNG tanks.


Here is a site to verify what I'm getting at.


And for CNG.


Eric

Kathy R.'s picture
Kathy R.

Thanks Eric. I'll mention this and see what's up with the propane situation.


Kathy

TheVillageBaker's picture
TheVillageBaker

Hi Kathy, I am envious of your current situation and trust all goes to plan. It’s a dream we have had for many years now. I recall that Lin, of Lin and Larry Pardey, of Seraffyn fame, made bread in their boat’s oven throughout their circumnavigation. However she never gives directions for making her loaves in any of the Seraffyn books that I have read. She might however have included it in her book ‘the care and feeding of the offshore crew’.
I also recall Bob Griffith in his book Blue Water (Awahnee) explaining how to use sourdough for leavening hot cakes, English muffins and waffles.

Quote ‘when Nancy makes sourdough waffles with her cast iron waffle iron (which goes on our Primus with an asbestos pad between the burner and the iron), it takes most of the morning to cook enough to satisfy every body.’
  
We have recently cruised the eastern Mediterranean (by flotilla) where I was pleased to find that every bay and small bar/tavern had its own wood burning oven, where if you were around on the right day the early morning bake could be witnessed, proving, rolling, shaping and finally baking, an activity for the whole family.
Trying all those different loaves around the Turkish coast made you appreciate the importance of the flour, for many loaves contained bland white flour which for me was indigestible while others were yellow in colour, with a chewy open texture.


I tried to include some photos of the different breads but the spam filter would not allow them.


 

ruth hurst's picture
ruth hurst

Gosh I hope that you can some how get those pictures posted. That trip sounds like a dream vacation and we'd all love to see photos.


 


 

yozzause's picture
yozzause

SO KATHY


Where do we sign on as crew. your thread has sparked lots of interest, amateur bakers and obviouslly enthusiastic boaties too.

Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

Seems like bread baking and sailing go hand in hand..............Aussie Pete

Kathy R.'s picture
Kathy R.

Thanks to everyone for the welcome and the comments. I look forward to baking and sailing and learning lots about both!