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.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

No-knead bread

I baked two loaves of no-knead bread on Saturday afternoon. Click for the recipe. Though both loaves came from the dough that I started on Thursday, I baked one indoors and the other outside. The sliced loaf was baked in a 12-inch deep-style Dutch oven with coals for 450 degrees. I set the other loaf inside a deep fry skillet with a lid and placed it inside my oven at 450 degrees. The lid came off after 20 minutes.

The bread had a wonderful flavor, one that was reminiscent of sourdough. The long ferment (48 hours under refrigeration) helps boost its flavor. I should note that while this method is not a replacement for true sourdough, it does yield a descent loaf of bread.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Artisan bread in camp

After reading an article at the forum this week, I was inspired to bake a batch of no-knead bread. As one who's invested in the traditional view of kneading dough, I've avoided no-knead bread until now. I studied the picture with interest. The rustic crust appeared typical of artisan bread. The open crumb, complete with large holes, impressed me. And the bread was baked in a Dutch oven, a definite benefit for 'Round the Chuckbox.

An Internet search led me to Michael Rhulman's story of his conversion to no-knead bread. I followed a link to Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, the popular website operated by Dr. Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francios. Once I located the page titled, "Back to Basics ~ tips and techniques to create a great loaf in 5 minutes a day," I quickly saw potential for great bread in camp.

As I see it, you'd mix the master recipe for artisan bread at home, then place the large container of dough inside the refrigerator. Next pack the dough into the ice chest. Once in camp, you bake a fresh load of artisan bread each night in a cast iron Dutch oven. With little effort or mess, you'll have fresh bread on the table each night.

I will post the results over the weekend. The batch that I mixed this morning is fermenting in the refrigerator until Saturday. My main interest is to see how the bread behaves inside the Dutch oven. Since I've baked a lot of bread in Dutch ovens, I'm confident of success.

To prepare the dough, I mixed 32 ounces bread flour, nearly 27 ounces warm water, 1 tablespoon instant yeast and 4 teaspoons kosher salt inside an eight-quart Cambro container. I plan to take the bread to a soup and bread potluck on Sunday afternoon at a friend's house.

After a two-hour ferment on the counter, the dough doubled in size, from approximately two to four quarts. It will ferment in the refrigerator for 48 hours before I bake four or five loaves in a 14-inch deep-style Dutch oven. With only four ingredients (flour, water, yeast and salt), the long ferment dramatically improves the flavor of the loaf.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Parmesan garlic dinner rolls for camp

Here's my recipe for Parmesan garlic dinner rolls. I baked the bread inside a 14-inch camp-style Dutch oven. This is a good recipe for camp when you have a crowd to feed.

I placed 15 rolls in the outside ring, 8 in the middle ring and 2 in the center. In cold weather, I set 2 to 4 coals on the lid to assist in proofing.

I encourage you to invest in a digital scale if you are a frequent baker at home. I purchased one for $35 years ago and use it for work and home. Please leave a comment if you prefer volume measurements.

20 ounces bread flour (Baker's percent: 80%)
5 ounces whole wheat flour (20%)
1-1/2 ounces (6%)
1/2 ounce instant yeast (2%)
1/2 ounce salt (2%)
1 ounce garlic, minced (4%)
2-1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (4%)
1/2 ounce parsley, chopped (2%)
4 ounces egg (about 3 meduim) (16%)
2 ounces olive oil (8%)
14 to 15 ounces warm water (65%)

In a large bowl, mix flours, yeast, sugar, salt, garlic, cheese and parsley. Mix eggs with oil, then whisk in water. Add wet ingredients to dry and hydrate flour. Cover and rest 10 to 15 minutes.

Knead dough 40-50 strokes by hand. Rest 5 to 15 minutes. Knead second time 20-25 strokes, but more gently. Let dough rise, covered, in a warm place until double, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

Deflate dough and fold. Relax dough 15 to 20 minutes. Divide dough into 2 ounce pieces. Shape into balls and place in greased 14-inch Dutch oven. About in a warm place about 30 minutes or until double in size. Bake with coals for 350 degrees until done, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool and serve. Makes 25 dinner rolls.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Looking back at my active duty service as a commissaryman and mess management specialist, working the Cabin Mess (captain's private galley and dining room) or Flag Mess (admiral's) would've provided the perfect opportunity to expand my culinary skills. Unlike the enlisted galley, you cook for the officer and his invited guests. And you're able to provide a more personal level of service, cooking restaurant-quality meals.

U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY (Jan. 9, 2013) -- Culinary Specialist 2nd Class August Cook, from Spring, Texas, butters fresh rolls in the flag galley of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). John C. Stennis is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Lex T. Wenberg.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Yeast raised hotcakes for camp

This recipe looks forward to spring and summer when campers head outdoors. It began as another blog post, one prepared in my home kitchen. As I mixed the batter last night, my thoughts carried me to our camp kitchen at Upper Blue Lake last September. Why not offer the recipe for the camp kitchen?

"Yeasted pancakes ... have a bubbly texture and a clean, slightly earthy (from the cinnamon) flavor that I can't resist," promises Daniel Leader. "It is easy to make this batter just before bedtime, so that it is ready for the griddle when you are the next morning." He wrote Simply Great Breads: Sweet and Savory Yeasted Treats from America's Premier Artisan Baker (The Tauton Press: Newtown, Conn., 2011) with Lauren Chattman.

Other than to slightly adjust the quantity of the flour and modify the instructions, the recipe remains true to Leader's original. Even though I tested the recipe for yeast raised hotcakes at home, it can be quickly assembled in camp.
Mix the dry ingredients in a zipper top bag, expel excess air and you're ready to travel. The only other task is to make sure you pack buttermilk, honey, butter, eggs and vanilla. While you can measure precise quantities for the wet ingredients, I pack them in their original containers so they can used for other dishes.

As Leader explains, mix the dry and wet ingredients (except eggs and vanilla) on the evening before your hotcake feast. After "kneading" with a wire whisk, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set inside the cooler. The yeast will work through the night, giving the batter a sour edge. 

Light the campfire first thing in the morning. As the campfire burns, mix the eggs and vanilla into the batter and set aside. Cook the hotcakes on the griddle when the fire is ready. Have the butter and hot syrup ready so your hungry campers can begin eating as each hotcake comes off the griddle.

Oat hotcakes on the griddle last September at Upper Blue Lake Campground in Eldorado National Forest.

While I haven't tested the recipe for larger groups, I see no reason why doubling it won't give you the same wonderful results.
Dry ingredients (mix at home):
12 ounces all-purpose flour (2-1/2 cups)
2-1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Wet ingredients (prepare in camp):
1-3/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup honey
5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

At home. Measure or weigh flour, yeast, salt and cinnamon in to a zipper top bag or other container. Pack the buttermilk, honey, butter, eggs and vanilla.

In camp, during the evening before breakfast. Pour dry ingredients into a bowl. Stir in buttermilk, honey and butter. Slowly whisk to moisten

ingredients. Continue whisking for about two minutes until batter is smooth, about 250 strokes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in the cooler overnight, taking care so it doesn't spill.

In camp, on the day of breakfast. Light a campfire and burn until you have a bed of hot coals. When coals are ready, spread under a lightly greased cast iron skillet or griddle and heat just until it smokes. (Hotcakes can be cooked over a campstove if desired.)

Stir eggs and vanilla into batter. For each hotcake, pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the hot greased griddle or skillet. Turn when the surface of each hotcake is bubbly and edges are slightly dry. Cook until golden brown.

Serve immediately. Dish hotcakes directly onto the plates of hungry campers. Serve with butter and brown sugar syrup (recipe follows). Makes 15 to 16 hotcakes.


Some things are just too easy to make at home, including hotcakes and brown sugar syrup. I figure, why buy the bottled stuff when you can easily produce quality syrup at home.

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
2 cups water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a medium saucepan, bring the sugars, corn syrup and water to a boil. Reduce heat to a vigorous simmer until thickened to a syrupy consistency, about 30 minutes. Stir in butter. Let cool slightly. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Steamship round

The General Mess served steamship round of beef at NAS Kingsville, Texas, weekly during my tour from 1976 to 1978. In 1976, the roast was served on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day alongside roast tom turkey and baked Virginia ham. The roast was one of the signature dishes of the galley at the air station.

The cooks on the night watch placed the rounds in the large rotating oven early in the morning. According to U.S. Armed Forces Recipe Card No. L-4-1, a 60 to 75-pound steamship round took eight or more hours to roast at 300 degrees. When I worked the night watch, we set the oven temperature between 225 to 250 degrees. While the cooler oven temperature added two or three hours to roasting time, the crew was rewarded with a succulent slice of roast beef at meal time.

U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY (Jan. 1, 2013) -- Culinary Specialist Seaman Teresa Arnold, from Hamilton, Texas, serves steamship round in the aft galley aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). John C. Stennis is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom.

U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Daniel P. Schumache.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Tex-Mex layered chicken casserole

I developed this recipe after watching the "Triple D All Stars" episode on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives Monday evening. My first thought was that it would make a good casserole for the residents at work. I prepared a four-inch hotel pan (pictured to right) for dinner Wednesday afternoon.

As I watched the chef demonstrate preparation of the casserole to Guy Fieri, I figured that it would be an easy dish to arrange. Since I've made enchilada casserole many times, I had the basic ingredients and proportions down. With only mental notes, I quickly made the creamy tomato and chile sauce and assembled the casserole as a layered dish. The residents enjoyed the casserole. It was a nice change from the regularly menued item.

Tonight I prepared a half recipe in a 12-inch camp Dutch oven. This oven will feed eight to 12 persons, depending on their level of hunger. If you have fewer mouths to feed, I would cut the recipe in half for a 10-inch Dutch oven.

This picture shows you how I distribute the tortillas in a Dutch oven. Laying four tortillas in a clover leaf pattern doesn't work in a round cooking vessel. The tortillas overlap in the center. As a result. the you end up with a big mass of tortillas in the center of the pot. I cut the tortillas in half, then distribute them as shown. Two halves cover the center.

My version of King Ranch chicken casserole. Since I live in California, I call it Tex-Mex layered chicken casserole. Interestingly, I was stationed at NAS Kingsville, Texas, for two years in the later 1970s and never heard of the casserole. The headquarters of the massive King Ranch in located near Kingsville.

Double the recipe and assemble in a 12 by 20 by 2-inch hotel pan in a camp setting. Cut 4 by 6 for 24 servings.

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 onion, diced small
2 jalapeno chile peppers, diced small
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk, scalded
1 cup chicken stock, hot
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (7-ounce) can diced green chiles
3 tablespoons white wine or lime juice
1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
16 corn tortillas, cut in half
2 pounds cooked chicken, shredded (white and dark best)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
12 ounces shredded cheddar and jack cheese blend

Heat oil in saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and sweat until soft, but do not brown. Stir in cumin and flour to form a roux. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes. Add milk, stock, tomatoes, green chiles, wine or juice and thyme to roux, stirring continually until thickened. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and cumin.

Ladle 1 cup sauce into a 12-inch Dutch oven. Spread it across the bottom. Arrange 8 tortilla halves in over the sauce. Ladle 1 cup sauce on tortillas, then spread 1/3 of the meat, 1 tablespoon cilantro and 1/4 of the cheese over tortillas. Repeat layering process 2 more times. You will have 3 sauce, chicken and cheese layers when done.

Arrange 8 tortilla halves in over top layer. Ladle 1 cup sauce over tortillas. Spread remaining cheese over top. Bake with coals for 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes, until casserole is cooked and cheese has melted. You want the bottom layer of tortillas to brown and top layer of cheese to crisp (without burning). Serves 8 to 12 campers.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing

Cinnamon rolls are among my favorite pastries to bake. I enjoy baking a batch of 25 and giving friends a small pan of four or six rolls. Watching them smile  warms my heart. And those who receive the gift are blessed with good pastry.

Every couple months, since attending the baking workshop in Canby, Oregon last March, I've baked a large batch of bread at home. After packaging the bread into smaller portions, I usually give it to the folks at church on Sunday morning. Lately, my focus has been on foccacia, French bread and challah (Jewish egg bread).

This was my first run of cinnamon rolls since 2008, when I prepared them at FC Camp. During my tenure at the week-long camp each July, I used the U.S. Armed Forces Recipe Service recipe for sweet dough. The campers loved the rolls. They became known as "Steve's famous 4 a.m. homemade cinnamon rolls" because I arose at oh-dark-thirty to bake them for the camp. It was my earliest day of the week.

These baking ventures serve two purposes. It keeps my skills fresh. Baking bread and pasties at work has not been a priority, especially after my hours were reduced in November. I no longer have the time at work to do any extensive baking.

Baking large quantities of bread or pastries on Saturday serve as a way to bring a bit of culinary happiness to my friends and brethren. As I said, it fills my heart, a long with their hearts. And they receive a freshly bake product that's superior to mass produced baked goods.

I started a batch of sweet dough early Saturday morning. Since we were meeting Debbie's parents later that afternoon, I figured the clock would be kind to the baking process. Unfortunately, soon after setting the dough to ferment on the bench, I realized that I had miscalculated the quantity of yeast.

Instead of fermenting the dough for one to two hours, I left it on the counter for four hours before placing it in the refrigerator. Nothing happened. At first I attributed my failure to rise to the cold house, which hovered around 65 degrees most of the day. By Monday evening, I realized that I needed to scrap this batch and make a fresh start on New Years Day.

I find a group of mixed children and adults (as in a camp setting) that will eat approximately 110 rolls (or more) for each 100 persons. This holds true when the cinnamon rolls are served with an accompanying menu of sausage, fruit, milk and juice. Because your experience my differ from mine, it's always best to bake too many cinnamon rolls. I guarantee no leftovers will see the setting of the sun!


This recipe comfortably fits in the 4-1/2-quart to 5-quart bowl of a household stand mixer (Kitchen Aid or similar brand). Multiply for a larger batch; however, you will need a mixer with a larger bowl. After punching, weigh into 4-pound 15-ounce pieces and proceed with make-up.

1 pound milk, scalded and cooled (Baker's percent: 40%)
8 ounces sugar (20%)
1/2 ounce salt (1.25%)
6 ounces whole eggs (15%)
2 pounds bread flour (80%)
8 ounces cake flour (20%)
1 ounce instant yeast (SAF yeast) (2.6%)
8 ounces unsalted butter, softened (20%)

Cinnamon and sugar filling:
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
5 ounces brown sugar
1/3 ounce cinnamon

Cream cheese icing:
5 ounces cream cheese
6 tablespoons milk
10 ounces powdered sugar

Place cooled milk, sugar, salt and eggs in mixer bowl. Using the dough hook, mix at low speed just until blended. Add flours and yeast. Mix at low speed 1 minute or until all flour mixture is incorporated into liquid. Add butter, margarine or shortening. Mix at low speed 1 minute. Continue mixing at medium speed 4 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Cover and set in warm place (80 degrees) about 1-1/2 hours or until double in bulk. Punch dough and shape dough into a rectangular piece. Let rest 10 to 20 minutes.

Roll dough into a rectangular sheet, about 18 inches wide, 36 inches long and 1/4 inches thick. Brush 1/2 cup butter over each sheet of dough, except bottom inch. Set remainder aside. Prepare filing by combining cinnamon and brown sugar. Sprinkle 1-1/2 cups cinnamon-sugar mixture over each sheet of dough.

Roll each piece tightly to make a long slender roll. Seal edges by pressing firmly. Elongate roll to 35 inches by rolling back and forth on work table. Brush 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine on each roll. Slice each roll into 25 to 30 pieces about 1- to 1-1/2 inches wide, using dough cutter. Place cut side down on lightly greased sheet pan.

Proof at 90 to 100 degrees until double in size. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Prepare icing by whipping cream cheese in mixer bowl until smooth. Add milk and continue whipping until combined. Sift in powdered sugar, and whip until smooth. Spread icing on rolls as desired.
Variation: Sprinkle 8 ounces chopped toasted pecans or 3 ounces plumped raisins over the cinnamon sugar filling during make-up.