A fresh look at camp cooking, with surprising results. With just a little work you can produce an amazing cake from an oven in the ground.
At 21, I travelled in Australia and worked on a cattle station the size of Denmark. My job was cooking on the homestead but I was also lucky enough to go out on stock to stay with the Jills and Jackaroos. They live in the outback sleeping in metal beds with a small chest of drawers and a few personal items – but no walls. Their “bedrooms” where like stage sets; some even had old standard lamps next to their beds, but they had no lights in them. They did their washing in a cement mixer run by a genny which was cranked up a couple of times a week.
A camp cook lived with them and they were always hungry. After breakfast she used the hot coals from the fire to create an oven in the ground and baked a cake!
She creamed a tub of marg with a tub of sugar by hand and beat in a dozen eggs ( she was very strong and had great forearm muscles!) and sieved in a tub of self-raising flour and coco powder through a large mug with a fine mesh lid. The mixture was then poured into a baking tin and placed in a large bain marie . A lid was sealed with a dough paste. This was put on top of the stew ( lunch) and we dug the soil back in.
A couple of hours later we returned to the camp. It smelt amazing. The perfect cake was lifted from the fire. The fire was re stoked and the kettle was on.
The perfect are of camp cooking. This recipe also works in an oven! Follow us on Instrgram . Up to date action, food as it happens, straight from the oven, Finger lickingly good.
Ingredients to Feed 12 hungry Jacaroos!
- 500 grams of butter or marg
- 500 grams of Caster sugar
- 8 eggs
- 500 grams of Self-raising flour
- 1 table spoon of baking power
- This basic recipe can now have coco, or stewed apple, lemon zest or vanilla added.
Light a fire. For the best results you need a fire lite in the ground that has really good solid embers. The left over breakfast fire is perfect.
Cream together the butter and the sugar till lite and fluffy. by hand this can be hard work but its worth it.
Beat in the eggs one at a time. you may need some happy helpers – its camping!
Lastly fold in the flour and flavouring of your choice.
Greece and line a large baking tray – 30cm / 45cm.
Pour the cake mixture in the tray and either place into the oven for about 50 mins at 160 oc
Cover the top of the cake with Greece proof and a couple of layers of tin foil. It should not touch the cake mixture as this will prevent the cake from raising. Place a couple of large rocks in to the fire and balance the cake tin on top. the base should not touch be in direct contact with the fire or it will burn.
Place a large mettle sheet over the top. Its good to monitor the cooking temp.
Camp cooking is an art and needs to be practice. Its about understanding the fire more than uunderstandingthe cake. Play about and have fun.