There is a scene in Lonesome Dove that whets my appetite. It shows Gus reading a book by a campfire in the front yard of the ranch. He opens the lid on a Dutch oven and checks the bread rolls he’s been baking. Finding them done, he takes the pot into the ranch house and sets it on the table.
To many people, baking bread rolls is an overwhelming task, not to mention doing it while camping. You don’t need to worry any longer. I’m going to teach you an easy way, and an easier way, to bake bread in a Dutch oven. I promise it won’t hurt, and you’ll be a hero in your camp.
In either method, there is a little preparation involved, so you must decide before you pack which method you’re going to use. The easy method is as follows: In a 12-inch shallow Dutch oven, spray your favorite non-stick cooking spray. Get a big bowl with a tight closing lid. I use a green Tupperware bowl. I’ve been told you shouldn’t use metal, because it inhibits the yeast.
Now follow the recipe below:
1 ¼ cup warm (not hot) water
1 tbsp. Active dry yeast
1 egg room temp
½ cube soft margarine
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. Salt
3½ heaping cups sifted flour
Mix the water with the yeast and let it sit a minute. Mix the egg, margarine, sugar, and salt then add the water and yeast. Add the flour a little at a time. (You may need more flour, but be careful, you want the dough moist but not sticky). Push the palms of your hands into the dough and fold it over. Keep this action up until the dough is soft and elastic. This is called kneading it.
Roll the dough into a big ball—place it in a bowl and cover. Set the bowl aside in a warm place, and Let the dough rise for about an hour. When risen, roll the dough into little balls between your hands. Make the balls about 2-inches in diameter. Arrange the balls in a circle in the Dutch oven, with one ball in the center. Cover with the lid and let rise until double in size before baking. Use 10 coals on the bottom and 16 on the top. The chart below can help you place the coals. Every 15-minutes, while baking, turn the lid ¼ turn. At the same time, turn the oven ¼ turn the other way. (This will avoid hot spots). Bake until golden brown.
What is the easier way? Frozen bread dough of course. Just make sure it has enough time to thaw before you place the little balls in the oven. Let them rise like above, baking the same way. Frozen dough gives the cook a little more sleep time in the morning, but making bread from scratch will make you proud of yourself. And just like Augustus Macrae of Lonesome Dove, you will be respected and admired by your campmates.
Check back and I will talk about another easy way to bake bread in camp. Don’t let me forget.
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