As I've mentioned on the radio show, my stomach often does the thinking for both of us. It seems that I wasn't just hungry for a burger or a hot dog, although either would have been pretty tasty cooked over a bonfire. Still, the thought of cooking on an open fire just seemed to consume my mind (and my stomach). Only the day before, my executive producer, Eric, very eloquently shared a recipe that his family made when he was a kid camping. He called it a German Pancake, and it was made in a Dutch oven. If you heard him share the recipe on the Titanium Outdoors show, you probably started feeling a bit hungry, just like I did, as he laid out the process for all to hear. Eric said it was simple and easy to make, and only took about 25 minutes from start to finish. Since I had no reason to doubt him, I decided to try it for myself.
I asked Eric to send an email to me with the recipe (and very detailed instructions), and then I got to work so I could see for myself if it was all that he said this "German Pancake" would be. Truthfully,
I really wanted to see if it was as easy and delicious as he professed.
If you ignore the time it took me to run to the store to get eggs (yes, I ate the last one from my fridge a couple days before and hadn't replenished the stock), it only took about 5 min to get all the ingredients together. It is a very simple recipe; water, heavy cream, eggs, baking powder, sugar, apples, and flour. That's it. Again, the most time-consuming part for me was going to get the eggs.
After I gathered everything together, I put all the ingredients into a bowl and mixed them up. If you are camping, instead of a bowl use a gallon sized zip bag and mush everything together until it's fully mixed. You can do that at home before you leave on the trip… just keep it refrigerated, as it contains eggs and cream. I had some friends over to help out, and of course gave me an endless hard time about the eggs.
In a separate travel container (that's fancy talk for another plastic bag), I put sugar and the apples. I like apples, so I took the liberty of adjusting the recipe to use 5 instead of the 2 or 3 that Eric had in his recipe. Along with the sugar and sliced apples, a full stick of butter will go into the Dutch oven before everything else.
So once all the ingredients are mixed together and ready to be cooked, there were two additional needs. First, I needed to find my Dutch oven, and second, all of this was contingent upon being cooked over a campfire. So off to the wood pile with one of my friends to get the kindling and wood needed to build a fire.
As it just so happens, living out in the country, someone is always having a bonfire near my home. I recalled that my friend down the road a bit had a fire going that morning, so to save a bit of work, and under the pretense that we needed to test the "portability" of this recipe, my friends and I decided to pack everything up and take a short drive. When we arrived at the fire, it was almost out, but after a little rekindling we had a flame.
Prep the Dutch oven with a stick of butter, slice the apples, and add the sugar from the plastic bag. Next, set the oven into the fire and let everything caramelize while the apples are allowed to get soft in the butter and sugar mixture. Then, remove the cover from the Dutch oven and add the batter. Recover the oven and moved it just outside of the fire on some coals, and put a couple coals on top. Check it regularly, and rotate the Dutch oven so that the pancake cooks evenly.
OK, so here is a word of warning. Every time you open the lid to check on the progress, the tantalizing smells will make your mouth water; everyone
nearby will salivate, too. We didn't know how to tell if it was done because it wasn't in the instructions, so it burned on the edges a little bit before we pulled it off the fire.
After a decent cool down we started to dig in. I had the first bite, since my friends were afraid of my cooking abilities. It tasted like a sugary apple omelet. It was so good that we decided that we should take it to the patio table, grab a couple beers, and fully enjoy the pancake dinner we just made.
All in all, I think it took about 3 hours for me to make this recipe from start to finish. In my defense, I had a lot of distractions, and had lot of running around to do in the process. If I were to do this again, and had all my ingredients at hand, this would have only been a simple 20 - 30 minute recipe with no headaches. This is definitely something to take with you on your next camping trip.
Want the recipe? Send us a message on the contact page on www.22outdoors.com, and include German Pancake in the body of the message. We'll be happy to send it to you, including instructions on how to tell when it is finished cooking. After you've tasted it, we'd enjoy hearing your thoughts on this simple campfire recipe that the whole family will enjoy.