Sep 20, 2009 at 2:52 pm #1239485
Today I decided to give baking some muffins a try in my kitchen, rather than experiment with something like this in the field.
To cook the muffins, I used my FeatherFire alcohol stove (45g), a homemade windscreen (15g) and heat reflector (2g) and an older HAA pot. That's 62g or 2.2oz of stove equipment plus the pot.
I filled the FeatherFire with 43g of methanol (nearly 2 fluid ounces). I then grabbed a fairly flat rock which just happened to fit nicely into my pot. The rock surface was fairly level.
I used some banana muffin mix, the kind that requires only water. I mixed up a bit and put it in a aluminum tart cup. The aluminum cup only weighed 1.5g (or 0.05oz).
Here's everything all set up:
Having never done this before. My primary concern was burning the bottoms of the muffins long before they were cooked inside. Accordingly, I lit my stove and set it very low. I opened just 1 full turn (max is 5 full turns). So that's about 20% throttle.
I checked on the muffins after 10 minutes. Things seemed to be going well, but the muffins were in danger of spilling over the rim because they weren't totally level. I spent a few minutes getting them more level with some tiny pebbles.
After 15 minutes they looked like this:
After 20 minutes they looked like this:
They were starting to look good, but a toothpick revealed they were still gooey inside, which the top of the muffin also indicated.
I gave them another 10 minutes (30min total) and they seemed to be done. A toothpick came out clean so I shut the stove off and took them out of the pot.
They were looking pretty good, but I was still nervous they would be hard to get out of the tins and/or burnt on the bottom. To my joy, the muffins came out easily and looked perfect. Check out this culinary perfection:
I let them cool for a few minutes and then took a deep bite to see what they looked like in the middle. Honestly, the muffins are as good as I could ever do at home. They were moist, fluffy and cooked all the way through. Hugely delicious.
With the muffin devoured (and the other saved for my wife), I weighed my stove again to see how much fuel I had used. The result: 28.4g of methanol was used to cook these muffins for 30 minutes.
Going forward, I'm definitely going to try this on the trail. Since the bottom of the muffin wasn't burnt in the slightest, I will likely use a bit more throttle next time with a goal of cooking them in 20 min instead of 30 min. That's still a lot of time though so these aren't exactly suited for adventure racers.
One area for improvement is the qty/size of the muffins. It would be nice (and more efficient) to make more at once. I could almost fit 3 muffins into my pot but not quite. Having just one muffin of these size is really just a teaser. If I ate both it would have been a decent contribution to a meal. Perhaps in the future I could mix up the dough a bit thicker and thus fill the tins a bit fuller. Ideally, it would be nice to find deeper cups. I wonder how well a large meat pie tin would work. It might be hard to cook to the middle, but it would give you a lot more end product.
BTW, The FeatherFire stove rocks. 30 minutes of cooking on one ounce of fuel (or 1.3 fl oz). If I filled this stove up with 2 fl oz I could bake or simmer for over 45 min. I wonder if could do lasagna?Sep 20, 2009 at 3:40 pm #1529135
@funnymoLocale: Sunshine State
Way to go, Dan!!
I've tried doing the same at home, too and I have yet to take the full setup on the trail….bummer.
I love my Caldera / Ti-Tri and need to see if I can bake with it.
Your pics sure made me hungry.Sep 20, 2009 at 3:48 pm #1529137
The simmering function of the FeatherFire seems really handy for baking. It would be interesting to see how they cook at full blast. The aluminum tin seems to do a great job reflecting the heat. The edges of the muffin top were darker than the sides/bottom of the muffin so the tin is definately helping here. It's probably better to use tins like this rather than paper muffin cups which are more floppy and don't reflect the heat as much.Sep 20, 2009 at 4:53 pm #1529153
awesome… I need to get a FeatherFire… that's a perfect little stove.
by the way – silicone muffin cups work really well tooSep 20, 2009 at 7:54 pm #1529195
@jmathesLocale: Southeast US
Laurie- where do I find silicone muffin cups???Sep 20, 2009 at 8:00 pm #1529196
You can find silicone muffin liners in most stores that sell kitchen gear and on Amazon. Wilton sells quite a few, including the well known Silly Feet that have, well, feet!Sep 21, 2009 at 2:54 pm #1529407
JJ – I just bought a couple sets (6 muffin cups in each) from the local grocery store. They were $4.00 for the set. Check out the baking section of a department store like Sears or Walmart too.
Here's a photo of my muffins after baking… we were on a wilderness lake in the middle of Algonquin Provincial Park. Now these were made in an Outback Oven because I was cooking for a group and using a white gas stove on that trip.Sep 21, 2009 at 6:42 pm #1529480
So how does silicon stack up against aluminum? It seems like the silicone would be more durable and less likely to get damaged in your pack, but it also looks heavier. The Silicone seems a bit easier to get the muffins out of since you can invert it, but the foil was pretty easy too. The foil looks like it would hold it's shape a bit better when you are lowering the raw muffins into the pot.
Got a weight on the silicone cups? As mentioned, my aluminum foil ones were 1.4g (0.05oz) each.Sep 21, 2009 at 7:39 pm #1529501
Silicone will weigh more but is quite durable, easily washed up and removal is easier.
While silicone will be flexible when putting in the pot just don't over fill and you won't have issues. You can also put the liners in first, then fill.Sep 21, 2009 at 8:03 pm #1529510
@jmathesLocale: Southeast US
all of the muffins look so good
Dan- what's the purpose of the rock inside the pan?Sep 21, 2009 at 8:04 pm #1529511
I know you can get the Silly Feet ones from Micheals the craft store. They work pretty good, too.Sep 21, 2009 at 8:27 pm #1529518
Yep! And also at Bed, Bath and Beyond usually (also Jo-Anns Fabrics).
I love my Silly Feet, I use them for steam baking. No need for rocks as risers (I saw the question on why rocks used) – if you don't use a riser of some sorts for either steam or dry baking you can burn the item being baked.Sep 21, 2009 at 9:34 pm #1529539
what's the purpose of the rock inside the pan?
The bottom of pot can get extremely hot (since it contacts the flame directly) so it would probably burn the bottom of the muffins if you set them directly on the pot. You can get things that raise up the baked goods (ie. grills that fit into your pot) but rocks also work pretty well to diffuse the heat and they don't add any weight to your pack since you can grab them pretty much anywhere.Sep 21, 2009 at 11:14 pm #1529566
@backfeets1Locale: Midwest.... Missouri
Does the temperature of baking in small pots warp the metal????Sep 22, 2009 at 12:55 am #1529591
It probably could….if you used a traditional alcohol stove on full blast then it seems like there's a real chance it could. Kinda depends on your pot too. I'm not sure which metals warp most easily.Sep 22, 2009 at 1:12 am #1529594
@antigLocale: Pacific Northwest
Yes it will. Almost whenever you cook without liquid in your pot, the bottom will warp. When I cook muffins, I usually have the rocks and some water in the pot. The muffins will be steamed but my nice pot will still be nice.
I find that I never liked baking muffins in muffin cups. I usually just make a giant muffin-cake sort of thing.
EDIT – Smaller pots, like the 550, are less susceptible to warping than say, a MSR Titan Kettle.Sep 22, 2009 at 4:54 am #1529606
okay… just had my scale out… the weight between 2 of my silicone muffins cups and 2 of the aluminum ones was less than 0.25 gram (my scale isn't more precise than that because it isn't digital – sorry).
The thing is that silicone ones I have don't have the ones with the goofy feet. They are cute but those feet add weight.
The silicone liners last for decades so overall that is better for the environment too.
They are also flexible so they don't get munched in the pack – even if you squish them badly they come right back to shape. And they take up less space than their aluminium foil counterparts.
Silicone is also a non-stick surface so muffins come out much easier without the surface having to be greased. This isn't an issue with a plain batter but if you have something with dried fruit and the like sticking can be an issue.
edited… to add a missing wordSep 22, 2009 at 5:06 am #1529607
Also, I meant to mention that Sarah is right about the need to add water to the bottom of the pot if you aren't using a riser. You can easily make a riser if you prefer to dry bake. I have one that is simply made from the same type of foil that MSR makes wind screens from. It is two longer pieces of the foil that are one inch wide. There is a slit in the centre of each piece that goes three quarters of the way through. This allows me to make the pieces into a plus.
Then I have another piece of ths same foil cut in a circle that I sit on top of the plus. This reflects some of the heat back down so the baking doesn't burn (much like the idea of the riser that came with the Outback Oven).
I still use something inside to raise what I am baking up… this allows for air to flow around and create the oven effect whereas with the Outback Oven I use the fabric convection hood to acheive the same thing eliminating the need to raise the food up.
And another photo to make you all hungry this morning… (I don't use the stainless steel pots anymore except for car camping – too darn heavy… this was about 10 years ago and they are cinnamon raisin dots that served 4 people for breakfast on a more relaxed day).
edited to add a photo and this…
While I do have a lighter weight approach to food – it isn't UL and my personal decision is that I'm not about to trade in good tasting food or variety on our trips for mere calories (like just eating straight pb or lard as I've heard some UL hikers do – I can't do that)… so my way of doing things isn't for everyone.Sep 22, 2009 at 7:12 am #1529623
You want to be wary of warping with thin pots. Especially Ti which can get red hot faster than you would think it can.
This is one reason I steam bake – I have warped a too pricey Ti pot (not that I cannot use it or anything, but hoo, it does not sit flat anymore!)Sep 22, 2009 at 12:08 pm #1529707
Do you think my Ti pot would warp doing what I did? I used a HAA pot for this and it didn't seem to be that hot or get warped because the stove was on pretty low.
Is there some way of adding something to the pot besides water to minimize this? I'm thinking maybe dirt and then a big rock? Or would dirt bake on? Maybe some small pebbles/gravel in the bottom and then a big flat rock?Sep 22, 2009 at 12:45 pm #1529720
HAA seems to do well. Controlled low heat especially helps. This is where alchy stoves can really shine – as the heat if spread all over – where as a canister stove has a red hot center.Sep 22, 2009 at 12:55 pm #1529725
Dan – if you use the riser idea I mentioned then you don't need water or pebbles. Also Tinny of MiniBull design has a great video on baking with an alcohol stove – you should check it out.Sep 22, 2009 at 4:50 pm #1529801
At less than a 0.25g penalty for 2 silicone cups vs. aluminum foil, that seems like the way to go. The durability is a big selling point for me.Oct 13, 2009 at 9:02 pm #1536106
This was my first real success at baking on the trail, thought I'd add my CO2 to the thread:
At home I prepared my mix: Bisquick butter biscuit, salt, 1/2 cup grated parmesian, dehydrated chives, mixed in baggies. I first tested the plain Bisquick batter using a caldera cone and simmer ring. It worked, it was bland, and so I doctored the recipe for the trail.
My plan was to do a mixed method of steaming and then dry air baking by allowing the water to boil off. I laid rocks into the pot 1" over a 1/2" water level, and followed a general timing of 15-20min baking, and 5min rest. I never removed the lid until I was ready to eat.
In camp I preped my pot and stove, formed a mold out of aluminum foil, and readied my mix by adding water, mushing it in the baggie and squeezing that into my mold.
It came out great, and delicious. The pics here are from the second round. I cheated a little this time, and skipped the stove, using my pot stand to elevate the pot above some coals at the edge of our camp fire. This time was even better with the heat from the surrounding fire.
Thanks for the inspiration everyone…Oct 14, 2009 at 8:57 am #1536211
very cool!! looks yummy too!
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