I’ve wanted to bake bread for a long time. The problem, I don't have an oven at the float cabin. Then I thought, why not try inside my wood stove. I purchased an extra stove brick to create a flat baking surface and got some hot coals going. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Making bread is an all day affair.
The night before I got my sourdough starter out and fed it. By morning it was good and bubbly. I chose a recipe from the Family Circle Illustrated Library of Cooking (look in a used bookstore for this out-of-print collection) and cut it in half to make one loaf for my small “oven.” Here it is:
Sourdough Wheat Bread
½ envelope active dry yeast (1 1/8 teaspoon)
½ cup very warm water (100°F/38°C)
¾ cup sourdough starter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups flour
- Sprinkle yeast into very warm water with half the sugar and let stand 10 minutes to foam. This will ensure your yeast is good.
- In a large bowl blend the yeast mixture, sourdough starter, remaining sugar and salt. Beat in 1 cup all-purpose flour until smooth. Add 1 cup wheat flour a little at a time until completely incorporated. Mixing at the end is easier with your hands.
- Turn out on a board and knead for 10 minutes. I don’t have a board so I use plastic wrap taped to my counter. Use the remaining flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking.
- Form into a ball and place in a greased bowl. I use margarine. Roll it over to coat all sides.
- Cover with a towel and put in a warm place to rise (1-2 hours or until double in size).
- Punch the dough down, turn it out on a board, cover it with the bowl and let it rest for 20 minutes. While you wait, grease a 9x5” baking pan (or cookie sheet) and sprinkle it with cornmeal. I used a baking pan because of the limited space in my wood stove.
- Knead the dough a few times and then roll it into a loaf shape. Pinch together any open seams on the bottom. Place the dough in the baking pan, cover with a towel and put in a warm place to rise again (1 hour or until double in size).
- Make slits 2” apart on the top to prevent cracking. If you like a crispy crust, mix 1 teaspoon corn starch with ¼ cup water. Brush the surface of the bread before and once again during baking. Use aluminum foil to shield the bread if using a wood stove.
- Bake for 40 minutes in a 400° oven. When the bread sounds hollow and is golden on top it should be done. When I took mine out of the pan it felt a little raw on the bottom. I put it bottom side up and returned it to the oven for 10 minutes. An extra benefit was a crispy crust all around. Yum!
There was one other problem. Now I know why bread recipes have enough for two loaves. We ate almost the whole thing right when it came out of the oven. But there’s always another day, especially in the winter when the woodstove heat is free.
Do you have any cabin or camp cooking recipes? I'd love to hear them.