The Fresh Loaf

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Recipe/technique for real hearth baking?

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chrisinweare's picture
chrisinweare

Recipe/technique for real hearth baking?

I've started a monthly cooking group with my friends. Our theme this month is hearth cooking. We'll be cooking in an open fireplace – there's also a small grill.


Any suggestions for recipes or techniques that are suited to this equipment and style of baking?


 


Thanks,


Chris

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hi Chris, since you plan on baking in an open fireplace, I think your best bet is one of the no-knead recipes which are baked in a cast iron dutch oven.


I think the biggest challenge is going to be keeping the bread from either burning or underbaking.  Do you have an apparatus in your fireplace which would allow you to hang the dutch oven above the coals?


Here's the result from one experiment which set the dutch oven on the coals.

rockfish42's picture
rockfish42

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/knead-not-sourdough-recipe/index.html
has directions for using a dutch oven with coals for a no knead bread, you can adapt the technique for cooking other breads and in fact this is very traditional for soda bread.

ClimbHi's picture
ClimbHi

"The Magic of Fire - Hearth Cooking" is a pretty good book. It covers various hearth cooking techniques, including some pretty unusual ones like suspending a roasting chicken on a string in front of the fire, and giving it a spin. It'll wind/unwind for a pretty long time between "windups" and, in effect, spit roast. I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants to turn out great meals using a wood fire.


As others have suggested, a dutch oven is great for bread, stews, deserts, you name it. A Tuscan grill" (a cast iron grill surface on legs for camp fire or fireplace use) is also a good piece of equipment for this type of cooking. You can also roast directly in the coals -- roasted onions are teriffic, as are potatoes and other root veggies. Roast peppers by placing them near, or even on, coals. The old scout standby of roasting meals in foil can yeild some surprisingly wonderful results -- roast beef or chicken together with veggies & seasoning in the same packet.


A fireplace with a hearth in front, where you can rake coals from the fire without burning the house down, is helpful. Otherwise, building the fire off to one side and using the other side of the fireplace for coal cooking works pretty well.


ClimbHi
Pittsburgh, PA

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

As we used to teach it:  Make a hamburger patty, and put it onto a square of foil about 2.5 times the size of the patty.  Slice/Dice a small (brushed clean) potato and pile on top.  Add some salt, pepper, sliced carrots and chopped fresh onion.  You can also add mushrooms if you like them (I do), and/or cream of mushroom soup if there are enough of you to share a can and use it up.  Fold up the foil square into a pouch for all the ingredients and put it in a hot part of the coals without putting it directly into the heart of the fire.  Let it cook till the carrots and potatoes are tender.


We always ate them right out of the foil with just a spoon so it woul not poke holes in the foil.  Then you could roll up the foil into a pack-it-out ball, lick then wash the spoon and be done.


Thanks for the trip back to memory lane.  This would probably be more appropriate for a family cookout or camping trip than your  group cook-along though.
OldWoodenSpoon

ClimbHi's picture
ClimbHi

"This would probably be more appropriate for a family cookout or camping trip than your  group cook-along though"


I dunno . . . we've used the foil packet cooking method for some pretty great meals, substituting venison, rabbit or duck for the burger, and including veggies such as squash, turnips, pearl onions, and/or cannelloni beans, spinach, . . . you name it! I can see a party where guests make up their own version of these packets, and then trade among the guests to see who wins bragging rights for "best scout".


ClimbHi
Pittsburgh, PA