Monday, June 16, 2008

Once a hobby, now an obsession

When will she ever stop?

Some people's hobbies can be annoying, you know collecting soda bottles or famous people's hair but mine, Outdoor Dutch Oven Cooking, is more than a hobby, it's turned into an obsession. Every time I fix a meal I try to figure out how long it would take to prepare outside? How can I convert that recipe. I must get help but until then here is my latest, Twenty-four hour sourdough bread.

Good ol' reliable Alton Brown actually had an episode on Outdoor Dutch Oven cooking. I'll not put in the recipe, it's called Knead Not Sourdough and can be found on Food TV's site. What I will talk about it the method. You mix flour, salt, a tiny 1/4 teaspoon of yeast, and water and let it set 20 hours, covered, on your counter. Then you do that normal punch down, turn around, and let rise another two hours thing to the dough. What could be easier, other than going to the bakery.

While the second rise is almost done it's outside to heat up the iron. Then toss your formed loaf into a pretty hot dutch oven to bake for 45 minutes. I'm all about the coals so I had what he suggested which I thought was way too many for the bottom. We are still in the experimental part of my obsession so I loaded on the coals.

After 30 minutes you could smell the bread, a good sign but I feared too early. The lid got lifted at 35 minutes and I gasped, yes literally, because it look so beautiful. This is food porn, folks. The temperature was in the range suggested so I hoisted it from the fire. Letting it cool for a few moments I then got some hand protection to remove the loaf. Now here's where it gets funny. It was somehow welded to the bottom of the pan. Would not budge. After I finally grunted and groaned and freed it from the iron it was pretty burnt on the bottom and the bread, though not a total loss, was still a bit doughy in the center. Alton never turned his loaf over, now that I think of it.

I now know I should have gone with my instincts and had less coals on the bottom and that would have slowed down the baking. It was also a bit saltier than I thought it needed to be so I'd cut the salt in half. Someone more experienced at bread baking might have sliced the top a few places before baking. I have no idea what that does but it always looks good.

Other than that it would be great to cook up a loaf of bread while camping. Imagine that lovely smell drifting through the campground. Hmmmm. Just bring me some butter.


Joanna said...

FABULOUS, and very inspiring. Not sure where I can get that type of Dutch oven in Europe, but I can use an old Le Creuset pot. I saw those chimneys on sale the other day and thought I didn't need one, but now I see I was wrong! I hope you'll do some more posts on this to keep us up to the mark

Thanks for sharing

maltese parakeet said...

is it possible that the slits in the top let out some of the steam and the inside wouldn't be as doughy? just a thought.

Irma's Rose Cottage said...

Ooooh ! the smell of fresh baked bread. Looking at your picture makes me hungry for a piece.
Looks really good.

Irma :)

Moon said...

Joanna, you really need the special pot as it has a flat top to hold the coal. Wouldn't work without it.

Sylvie said...

I can thoroughly understand your obsession with Dutch Oven cooking. Much like my obsession with BBQ'ing. Just can't stop. I recently bought one of those Lodge dutch ovens from Costco. I actually bought it to cook/fry on my outdoor gas burner. Does work well for that. Now I see a new type I need to get with that special lid to place coals on. Did you see the article in this weeks L.A. times Food section/ They highlighted camp cooking with one of the dutch ovens like yours.

Moon said...

Sylvie, no I missed that article, I'll need to check online. I do have another secret obsession that I'll hopefully unveil this weekend.