Primitive Cooking: Making Ash Cakes
(As featured in the December 2007 issue of Practically Seeking)
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Ash Cake recipes!
Nothing satisfies the soul as much as food prepared on a campfire. And it's easier than you might think!
One of my favorite fire-friendly treats is the Ash Cake.
They are easy to make, fun to prepare, a great family-friendly activity, and can be made from almost any flour (acorn being especially good) at any time of year. Plus, they're delicious! Here is how we make these tasty treats…
Tips for Making a Better Ash Cake
- White ash is hot — gray ash is not. Make sure the ash you plan to cook your cakes on is the hot white kind, or you'll be waiting a long time for them to finish!
- If the weather has been cold or wet, dry and heat the ground beneath your fire pit by raging your fire for at least an hour before allowing it to burn down to coals. If you skip this step, the ash will cool down quickly, turn gray, and your ash cakes won't have enough time to cook.
- Don't handle the dough any more than you must. Work it only enough to mix the dry and wet ingredients. The more it is kneeded, the tougher it will be and the less it will rise. (This is also true for pancakes and pie crusts.)
- Experiment with all sorts of flours, such as acorn or buckwheat. Or try using pancake mix, muffin mix or self-rising corn meal for a different, and delicious, taste.
Step-by-step Instructions for Making Ash Cakes:
- Build a fire and let it burn down to a thick layer of coals. If the weather has been cold or wet, be sure your fire has burned long enough to thoroughly heat the ground beneath. While your fire is burning, gather the ingredients to make your ash cake dough.
- Allow the coals to burn down to white ash.
- Using your favorite flour make a thick dough, adding only enough water so the dough does not stick to your hands. Acorn flour is delicious in this recipe! (Not sure how to make a good dough? Check out one of our favorite recipes.)
- Adding chopped nuts, berries or other tasty morsels to the flour mixture can be very tasty! These are some of the berries we picked during the summer in our Melon Baskets. A delicious reminder of warm summer fun!
(You can also add an egg to help with binding if your dough is not sticking together properly).
- Roll the dough into small balls, golf ball size or smaller. This is a great step for getting the kids involved!
- Pat each ball into a tortilla-style patty, about ¼ inch thick. (Another step that kids love!)
- Place the dough carefully onto the hot ash (NOT the coals) and let it sit until browned to your liking, about 3-4 minutes, then carefully flip each patty and cook the other side.
(Be careful while flipping — one of ours bit the dust at this point, which made Sammy very happy!)
- Remove from the ash with care, as they can be fall apart easily at this point! Brush off any remaining ash with your fingertips or a pastry brush.
- Top with butter, honey, maple syrup, powdered sugar, your favorite jam/jelly or crushed fresh fruit and enjoy this delicious treat!
This Christmas Eve forget the cookies — Leave Ash Cakes for Santa instead!
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/3 cup cornmeal muffin mix
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup fresh or frozen berries
2 Tbsp water
In a small bowl, combine together the buckwheat flour and cornmeal muffin mix.
Add the chopped walnuts into the dry mixture.
Slowly, add a small amount of the water and begin combining the dry mixture into the water.
When the mixture is just beginning to stick together, add the berries.
Continue adding water, small amounts at a time, until the mixture doesn't stick to your fingers.
If you add too much water, add more buckwheat flour into the mixture until the proper consistency is reached.
Separate into four pieces and roll each piece into a small, golf ball-sized ball.
Pat them down into tortilla-like patties, about a quarter-inch thick.
Place the patties carefully on the white ash, turning after 3-4 minutes to cook the other side.
Carefully remove the patties once both sides are done, brush off any excess ash.
Top with butter, honey, maple syrup, crushed fruit, powdered sugar, or you favorite sweet topping, and Enjoy!