In fixed camp, if you have no oven, a good substitute can soon be made in a clay bank or steep knoll near by. Dig down the bank to a vertical front. Back from this front, about 4 feet, drive a 4 or 5-inch stake down to what will be the bottom level of the oven. Draw the stake out, thus leaving a hole for flue. It is best to drive the stake before excavating, as otherwise it might cause the roof of your oven to cave in from the shock of driving. Now, from the bottom of the face, dig a horizontal hole back to the flue, keeping the entrance as small as you can, but enlarging the interior and arching its top. When the oven is finished, wet the whole interior, smooth it, and build a small fire in the oven to gradually dry and harden it.
To bake in such an oven: build a good fire in it of split hardwood sticks, and keep it burning hard fcr an hour or two; then rake out the embers, lay your dough on broad green leaves (bass-wood from choice) or on the naked floor, and close both the door and the flue with flat stones or bark.
If no bank or knoll lies handy, build a form foi your oven by first setting up a row of green-stick arches, like exaggerated croquet wickets, one behind the other, and cover with sticks laid on horizontally like a roof. At the rear, set up a round stake as core for the chimney. Now plaster wet clay thickly over all except the door. Let this dry naturally foi a day in hot sunlight, or build a very small fire within and feed it only as needed to keep up a moderate heat. When the clay has hardened, give it another coating, to fill up the cracks that have appeared. Then give it a final firing.
When bark will peel, use a broad sheet of it (paper birch, bass-wood, poplar, cottonwood, slippery elm, etc.). It is easy to mix unleavened dough in the sack of floui itself. Stand the latter horizontally where it can't fall over. Scoop a bowl-shaped depression in top of flour. Keep the right hand moving round while you pour in a little water at a time from a vessel held in the left. Sprinkle a little salt in. When a thick, adhesive dough has formed, lift this out and pat and work it into a round cake about 2^2 inches thick.
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 Mot, but it dries out soon and will not keep. For four men:
3 pints flour,
3 heaping teaspoonfuls baking powder,
1 heaping teaspoonful salt,
2 heaping tablespoonfuls cold grease, i 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.
These are baked in a reflector (i 2-inch holds i dozen, 18-inch holds I y2 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. Plop 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 oi 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.
This is easier to make than biscuit dough, since there is no grease to rub in, but it takes longer to bake. It keeps fresh longer than yeast bread, does not dry up in a week, nor mould, and is more wholesome than biscuit. It is the only baking-powder bread I know of that is good to eat cold — in fact, it is best that way.
1 quart flour, i teaspoonful salt, i tablespoonful sugar, z heaped teaspoonfuls baking powder.
Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly. Then stir in enough cold water (about lj4 pints) to make a thick batter that will pour out level. Mix rapidly with spoon until smooth, and pour at once into bake-pan. Bake about forty-five minutes, or until no dough adheres to a sliver. Above quantity makes a impound loaf (say 9x5x3 inches).