When baking powder is used, the secret of good bread is to handle the dough as little as possible. After adding the water, mix as rapidly as you can, not with the warm hands, but with a big spoon or a wooden paddle. To knead such bread, or roll it much, or even to mould biscuits by hand instead of cutting them out, would surely make your baking "sad." As soon as water touches the flour, the baking powder begins to give off gas. It is this gas, imprisoned in the dough, that makes bread light. Squeezing or moulding presses this gas out. The heat of the hands turns such dough into Tom Hood's "putty".
This is a standard camp bread, because it bakes quickly. It is good so long as it is hot, but it dries out soon and will not keep. For four men:
3 pints flour,
3 heaping teaspoon fuls baking powder,
1 heaping teaspoonful salt,
2 heaping tablespoon fuls cold grease, 1 scant pint cold water.
Amount of water varies according to quality of flour. Baking powders vary in strength; follow directions on can.
Mix thoroughly, with big spoon or wooden paddle, first the baking powder with the flour, and then the salt. Rub into this the cold grease (which may be lard, cold pork fat, drippings, or bear's grease), until there are no lumps left and no grease adhering to bottom of pan. This is a little tedious, but don't shirk it. Then stir in the water and work it with spoon until you have a rather stiff dough. Have the pan greased. Turn the loaf into it, and bake. Test center of loaf with a sliver when you think it probably done. When no dough adheres, remove bread. All hot breads should be broken with the hands, never cut.
To freshen any that is left over and dried out, sprinkle a little water over it and heat through. This can be done but once.
Biscuit—These are baked in a reflector (12-inch holds 1 dozen, 18-inch holds 1 1/2 dozen), unless a camp stove is carried or an oven is dug. Build the fire high. Make dough as in the preceding recipe, which is enough for two dozen biscuits. Flop the mass of dough to one side of pan, dust flour on bottom of pan, flop dough back over it, dust flour on top of loaf. Now rub some flour over the bread board, flour your hands, and gently lift loaf on board. Flour the bottle or bit of peeled sapling that you use as rolling-pin, also the edges of can or can cover used as biscuit cutter. Gently roll loaf to three-quarter-inch thickness. Stamp out the biscuit and lay them in pan. Roll out the culls and make biscuit of them, too. Bake until edge of front row turns brown; reverse pan and continue until rear row is similarly done. Time, twenty to twenty-five minutes in a reflector, ten to fifteen minutes in a closed oven.
These do away with breadboard, rolling-pin, and most of the work, yet are about as good as stamped biscuit. Use same proportions as above, except turn in enough water to make a thick batter—one that will drop lazily from a spoon. In mixing, do not stir the batter more than necessary to smooth out all lumps. Drop from a big spoon into the greased bake-pan.