July 3, 2014
Before we left for our trip out west, I thought long and hard about what we would eat while we were camping. There are lots of meals that can be made easily without lots of ingredients or equipment and basic cooking implements. I wanted to make sure our meals were not just simple, but delicious and satisfying. The kind of food you want to eat at the end of a long day of exploring, hiking or being outside.
We planned to use our backpacking stove for some cooking but also hoped we would be able to cook over a fire. Since we were car camping we brought a cooler to keep perishable food fresh for a few days. I also packed a basic selection of kitchen equipment and quite a bit of non-perishable food. I had most of our meals planned out with a few extra options in case something didn't appeal. Since this was our first extended camping trip with Amos, I aimed to be as prepared as possible.
The meal I was most excited to try was campfire pizza. Flour, salt and yeast were easy to pack and the only other things we needed were a jar of sauce and some mozzarella cheese. It wasn't fancy, though a few extra toppings would not have been hard to bring. I mixed the dough an hour or so before we wanted to start cooking and in the warm air it rose quickly. At home we sometimes cook pizza right on our grill but while camping we cooked it on a cast iron skillet. Once the fire is hot, it doesn't take long for the skillet to become the ideal surface to create a crisp, chewy crust. It can also burn pretty quickly if it gets too hot, so there is a bit of trial and error involved.
The pizza was easy, delicious, and satisfying enough to make twice while on our trip. If you have plans for camping or campfires this summer, you should definitely give it a try. What are your favorite meals to make while camping?
3 cups flour (I use 2 cups white, 1 cup whole wheat because it has such good flavor)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil (I brought some on our trip in a jar, it is optional)
1 1/4 cups water (or more if needed)
Stir together the flour, salt and yeast. Add the olive oil and water and stir until all the flour is wet. If the dough seems very stiff or dry add more water, a little at a time. Once it has come together in a ball of dough, knead it a few times until the dough is smooth and all the flour is incorporated. Let the dough rise until it has almost doubled in size (when we were camping in Yellowstone, I left it to rise in the car since you're not supposed to leave food out because of the bears).
To Make the Pizza
Make sure your campfire has plenty of hot coals. Place your cast iron skillet over the fire and let it pre-heat. You want the pan to be hot enough to cook the dough all the way without burning the outside (you may need to adjust the pan and the fire as you go). When it is hot (toss on a few drops of water and see if they sizzle) prepare your dough.
We used a 9-inch skillet and learned that it was better to make 4 smaller pizzas instead of 2 large ones. Even if you have a larger skillet, you will probably want to use 1/4 of the dough for each pizza so it cooks evenly and fits in the pan. You can shape the dough with your hands, toss it in the air, or stretch it on a cutting board or other surface. Add a little bit of oil to the pan to keep the dough from sticking and gently place the shaped dough on the pan.
After a few minutes, use a spatula to flip the dough to cook the other side. Once the dough is cooked on both sides (but not in danger of burning) spread the sauce and cheese on top. You can cover the skillet so the toppings will cook and melt more quickly or leave the pan open and take the pizza off when it is ready. We used the spatula to check the bottom of the pizza and make sure that it didn't burn while the toppings cooked.