For the Henry Coe campout with our troop this past weekend, I brought some bread mix so the Old Goat Patrol (the adults) could bake bread on sticks over the campfire. Specifically, this was the “Italian Stick Bread” recipe from The Back-Country Kitchen, essentially, from-scratch biscuit mix with Italian seasonings added.
I last made this when I was Grubmaster for the Raccoon Patrol in the early 1970’s. Back then I used biscuit dough that came in a can, the kind you whack on something to split open. That was more fun but this version tasted better.
The technique goes back to the origins of Scouting–here is a drawing and a description by Baden-Powell.
To make bread, or bannocks, or “dampers”, the usual way is to mix flour with a pinch or two of salt and of baking powder, then make a pile of it and scoop out the centre until it forms a cup for the water, which is then poured in. Mix everything well together until it forms a lump of dough.
… cut a stout stick, sharpen its thin end, peel it, and heat it in the fire. Make a long strip of dough, about two inches wide and half an inch thick and wind it spirally down the stick. Plant the stick close to the fire and let the dough toast, just giving the stick a turn now and then.
And here what it looked like when we did it.
A closer look at the bread, golden brown and almost ready.
Hint #1: Make sure you have someone minding the fire so that it gets to the “coals” stage at the right time. As you can see, my Fire Marshal did a great job.
Hint #2: Don’t add too much water. I was lucky that I brought two batches, because I used about a third of the second batch getting the first batch less sticky.
Hint #3: Squash the dough so it is thin on the stick, well under a half inch. It will only cook from the outside, so a thick layer will still be wet by the stick while it is done on the outside.
Hint #4: Seal the end of the spiral to the next turn so it it won’t peel off and dangle in the fire.