If you read Magical Makobe Part 3 you know that I promised to post the recipe for my super tasty, rest day favourite: Cinnamon Biscuits! I got this recipe from my mom who got it from a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. It is a quick and easy way to get your cinnamon bun fix at home. And if it tastes good at home you know it will be especially wonderful after a week or two in the bush without fresh food. What is special about my method is that it doesn’t require a reflector oven, which most backcountry baking recipes do. I also talk about preserving fresh bacon so it lasts until day 10 of your trip. Read on to learn all my secrets, or just scroll down to drool over the pictures!
This recipe takes about an hour or so to make in the backcountry and feeds 2 hungry campers nicely. You can also double the recipe and make 2 batches – one to eat today and the other to eat on the road tomorrow.
Flour mixture (mix in a large ziplock bag):
2t baking powder
pinch baking soda
½ t salt
(2T milk powder, optional)
Filling (in separate ziplock bag):
1/2c Brown Sugar
Handful of dried fruit
Pack the flour mixture in a large ziplock bag (the large bag is important) and the filling mixture in another ziplock bag. Then place both bags together in another large ziplock to keep the two bags from getting separated in your food bag. I also like to write the “at camp” instructions on the bag so that I don’t forget.
1lb Bacon (or more butter/oil)
2 nesting pots
Method – preserving bacon:
Make coffee first, for obvious reasons 🙂 Then pull out your bacon. The photo is of our bacon on day 10 of our trip – still lovely and fresh! Now, 10 days is probably as long as I would push it. But depending on the weather on your trip (hot or cold) your bacon might last longer or shorter. Just be sure to make sure it still smells good and doesn’t look green. To preserve fresh bacon what you need to do is take it out of the plastic packaging. Then wipe it down with a little white vinegar on a cloth. Dampen a cheese cloth in white vinegar, wring it out so it’s only damp and wrap the bacon in the cheese cloth. Wrap the cheese-cloth-covered bacon in newspaper and pack it in 2 ziplock bags. The vinegar helps preserve the bacon, the cheese cloth lets the bacon breath, newspaper helps the breathing and the plastic keeps the grossness off the rest of your stuff. (trick #1)
You need bacon because a) who doesn’t need bacon and b) it provides some tasty fat to fry your biscuits in. You could also use oil or butter or any other kind of fat if you prefer. Fry the bacon. Drain off the fat and save it in whatever plate/ bowl/ cup you have.
Method – biscuit dough:
Now, take your flour mixture and empty it into a large pot or bowl. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles crumbs, like this:
Next pour some of your water into the flour mixture. This is where the milk powder comes in. You can either mix the milk powder in with the flour mixture at home or you can mix it in with your water to create milk and mix your biscuits with milk instead of plain water. The milk makes things creamier and tastier, but you can also make the biscuits with just water.
Now, it’s very important not to add too much water/ milk because that will make the dough sticky and hard to work with. Depending on your altitude and various other ‘scientific things’ you might need less or more than 1/2c of liquid. So start with a little liquid and add more until you have a soft dough. It’s also very important not to stir the dough too much – the more you stir the tougher the dough. You want to stir the dough as little as possible to create the fluffiest possible biscuits, but mix it enough that it sticks together in a ragged clump.
Now take the large ziplock bag that held the flour mixture in it. Cut it down the sides and open it up to create a floured work surface! (trick #2) Turn the dough out onto the floury plastic and press it out into a rectangle about 1cm thick. Spread your cinnamon, sugar and raisin mixture over the dough rectangle. Roll up long-ways. Cut into pieces about 1 inch or 2-3cms wide. You don’t want the pieces too wide otherwise they will take forever to bake all the way through.
Grease your pot or pan with the bacon fat, place your cinnamon rolls in the pan and bake.
Method – baking in the backcountry without a reflector oven:
If you’ve brought a reflector oven you can place your biscuits in the oven and bake them as you normally would bake bread or bannock. Now I have heard that once you travel with a reflector oven you will never look back. However, if you’re like me and you don’t relish the thought of lugging around extra weight and/or don’t want to spend money on yet another piece of gear, then today is your lucky day!
To bake my biscuits I use a double boiler method. The idea behind this is that in order for the biscuits to rise and become fluffy and moist rather than hard and dry they need to cook slowly at low heat. For this method to work you will need:
2 pots that nest inside each other
1 tight fitting lid
Stove or very low burning fire
Enough fuel. Your biscuits will be baking for 30-40 minutes.
Grease the smaller pot, place the biscuits inside. Place the smaller pot inside the larger pot. Fill the larger pot with enough water in the bottom that the lip of both posts are at the same level, so the smaller pot is floating inside the larger pot (about 1 inch of water). Place the lid on top. The tops of both pots should be touching the lid, or the smaller pot can be floating just below the lid.
Place the pots together over your stove and bring the water to a boil, then turn down the heat so the water is just simmering. If the small pot is floating below the lid that’s ok, you do want the steam from the water to get inside the small pot a bit to help cook the biscuits. But make sure that the lid is firmly closed on the large pot as you don’t want the steam to escape.
Bake the biscuits like this until they are looking poofed and are mostly cooked through. You may need to add more water to the large pot if you have a hot fire and the water is boiling off too fast. Try to keep the water just simmering gently. The biscuits will look a little wet because of the steam but if you poke around in there the centre shouldn’t be too doughy – about 30 minutes, depending on your heat source.
Once the biscuits are cooked take the small pot out of the large pot and place it directly on your heat source. Now you want to fry the biscuits so they get brown and crispy on the outside. Fry for just a few minutes and then flip the biscuits and fry the other side.
And voila! The best backcountry breakfast you’ll ever have. Let me know what you think and if you try them!