Captain's Table

Mark Austen

2019.05.06 - Practise for Camping

At the end of the month we will be heading over to Antwerp for the annual Stershof medieval market and we will be joining the De Mowbray's, who are from Norfolk. I hope to be making fresh bread for the three day event and so I need some practise.

Yesterday I tried a white loaf and today will be the turn of a wholemeal loaf.


The fire tray was put on three bricks to hold it off the ground and six charcoal briquettes placed underneath the dutch oven and twenty on top. This results in a temperature of around 190 Celsius (375 Farenheit) once the oven has warmed up which takes about 20-30 minutes. The coals themselves take about 25 minutes to light so you have to get the timing right and start the coals before the dough has finished the first proof as the second proof only takes 40 minutes.

I forgot to take photos of most of the process but here is the result:


Slightly over-brown on top.


And perfect underneath.

Of course, being on this diet I was not able to taste test the result, but our neighbours where happy to accept the still hot loaf and will give me a taste report later.

The second load will be done slightly differently. We went through all our re-enactment kitchen stuff and found a container that was just over 1/2 cup in volume as well as a small spoon that was just over 1/2 teaspoon. I'll be using these to make today's loaf.


Here we go: 2 cups strong bread flour, 1 1/2 cups strong wholemeal flour, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1 1/2 tsp dried yeast, 2 cups warm water all mixed together until all the flour is wet.


While that is proving the fire try was moved down to the workshops my neighbour has put out her washing to dry and I don't think she would appreciate the smoky smell on her linens.


Some, fire starter (wood chippings and sawdust soaked in used cooking oil).


Light and place a chimney full of charcoal over the flames.


The bowl for the second rise.


And a piece of baking sheet.


After 90 minutes the dough has risen enough.


Store with the handle of a wooden spoon for a few seconds and scrape the sides to give a roundish, very sticky ball of dough.


Put the baking sheet in the bowl and the dough on the baking sheet.


Cover with a linen cloth for 40 minutes.


Meanwhile, back at the fire tray, some of the coals have been put under and on the dutch oven and the rest are being used to start some more charcoal as the oven may need topping up after 30 minutes.


Some wind breaks have been added to keep the heat from blowing away.


G-cramps used to anchor the wind breaks as having them blow onto the coals and catch fire would be....inconvenient.


The dough has risen for a second time, almost overflowing the bowl. I think I should have used the larger one.


The dough in the baking sheet is placed into the hot oven and the lid replaced.



After thirty minutes the top was done so to prevent burning I took the coals off the lid and left it in for another ten minutes.



The top looks good...


Unfortunately, the bottom is a little burnt although most of that is the baking paper.

In retrospect I should have moved the other coals away from the oven, as the side that was closest is the side that burnt most.

I have the taste report from the neighbour, yesterday's bread was delicious and they ate it all! Good news.

Another set of neighbours will be trying out today's loaf, we'll see how they like it.

Or not!