Thursday, January 31, 2013

Artisan no-knead bread recipe for camp

My premise for artisan no-knead bread in camp is simple. Mix the dough inside a food storage container at home one or two days before you head to the campground. Flavor builds as the yeast works in the refrigerator. Ignore the dough as you prepare for the trip.

Just before you leave the house, pack the dough inside securely the ice chest. Once in camp, bake a fresh load of artisan bread each night in a cast iron Dutch oven. With little effort or mess, this recipe will let you enjoy freshly baked bread on the table each night.

I suggest you read the instructions two or three times until you understand the recipe. Most effort on your part takes place at the beginning and the end of the process. The dough spends the majority of its time under refrigeration. This lets you focus on your enjoyment of the wilderness.


The recipe and instructions are adapted for camp from the Artisan Bread in Five website by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Franscios.

3 cups plus 3 tablespoons (26.6 ounces) warm water (80 degrees F) (baker's percent: 83%)
1 tablespoon (.35 ounce) instant yeast (1.1%)
4 teaspoons (.85 ounce) kosher salt (2.7%)
2 pounds bread flour (100%)

You will need a 5- to 6-quart food storage container with lid. I used an 8-quart Cambro brand square storage container for the test batch. While a 5- to 6-quart container will accommodate this recipe as it rises in the refrigerator, the larger size lets me multiply the recipe for larger groups. The smaller container will be adequate for most batches.

Mix the dough at home. Start this process at least 48 hours before you intend to bake your first loaf of bread in camp. For example, mix the water, yeast, salt and flour on Thursday evening so that you can bake it Saturday evening in camp. The dough needs a minimum of 48 hours to ferment and develop flavor. You can mix the dough up to a week in advance of the camping trip if desired. It'll just taste that much better in camp.

Dump the water, yeast and salt into the storage container. Dump in the flour and stir with a long handled wooden spoon. The dough will be wet. Loosely place the lid on the container. Do not snap it shut as you want gasses to escape during the long fermentation.

Let the dough sit at room temperature for 2 hours. The dough should rise to the 4-quart mark (or a little beyond) on your container. Place the container in your refrigerator. The yeast will continue to work in the cold environment.

Pack for camp. Remove the container of dough from your home refrigerator and set it inside your cooler. Make sure it sets on the floor of the cooler to lessen the chance of spilling. If necessary, snap the lid closed for the trip. Unsnap the lid when you arrive in camp.

Bake bread in camp. Begin the process of baking a loaf of bread three or more hours in advance of the meal. The dough will take 1 to 2 hours to rise before you bake it in a 10- or 12-inch Dutch oven. Proofing time is dependent on ambient temperature, altitude and wind chill factor at the camp site.

Dust the surface of the dough with a little flour. This will make it easier to pull off a piece of dough. Pull a piece of dough out, cut with kitchen shears and form into a ball. The dough ball should equal 1/2 or 1/3 of the total dough (14 to 29 ounces). This batch will give you 2 or 3 loaves. Return the remaining dough to the cooler.

Set the dough on a piece of parchment paper. This will make easier to set the dough inside the Dutch oven. Otherwise, rest the dough on a cutting board or pizza peel dusted with cornmeal. Rest the dough for 60 to 120 minutes.

I prefer to proof the dough until it feels like a soft pillow. It should jiggle when touched. You will notice that the dough won't spring up like a standard loaf of bread. The dough will spread, however. With experience, you'll learn the optimum time to bake the loaf. The longer rise gives the bread its characteristic open crumb texture. Cut the loaf with 1/4-inch slashes using a serrated knife or razor blade.

Light a chimney of charcoal briquettes around 30 to 45 minutes before you bake the bread. When the coals are ready, pre-heat a 12-inch Dutch oven for 10 to 15 minutes with coals for 450 degrees (11 under the oven and 22 on the lid).

Remove the lid and carefully set the dough inside the Dutch oven. Replace the lid on the oven. Bake the bread 30 to 35 minutes or until a deep brown color develops. Remove the parchment paper after 20 minutes. Continue baking until the bread is done. Cool the bread before slicing.

This batch will yield 2 or 3 loaves of wonderful bread. Keep the remaining dough in the ice chest. Bake one or more loves for subsequent meals. you can certainly bake two or more loves at once with additional Dutch ovens.


  1. Steven,

    Can I use dry yeast instead of instant?


  2. Yes, Elizabeth, you can use active dry yeast in the recipe. Less instant yeast is used than active dry, about 70% less by weight. The amount of yeast in this recipe is less important with the long, slow ferment in the refrigerator. You may find that it takes a little longer for the dough to rise to its highest point. But you should see the same wonderful results.

    Are you going to try it? If so, let me know how it goes by email.

  3. I tried making and baking this bread today. Actually I started yesterday and let the dough sit at room temperature for about 18 hours before baking. The first loaf I made was a 1lb loaf that I let rise for an hour. It seemed a little small in the 12" dutch oven. But after 35 minutes was brown and delicious.(Still on the small side) I decided to just use the rest of the dough ( a little over two lbs) for a large loaf. I also let it rise about a hour and baked it for about 5 minutes longer. The bread was delicious with a dense, chewy texture. I will be doing this again with more experimenting with longer rise times as well as longer fermenting times. I just get in a hurry when it comes to bread. The 11 on the bottom/ 22 on the top was a good ratio. Thanks for the recipe and instructions.

  4. Thanks Teresa for commenting. It sounds like you had a good experience. I would recommend that you use a colder ferment refrigerator. The cold encourages the development of acids, which gives the load its characteristic flavor.