Dehydrated bread is a good, light weight source of energy for hikers and campers. However, dry bread is dry, and hard, and every now and then it would be nice to smell and taste some freshly baked real thing.
For most of the hikers, especially male hikers, a fresh bread is something magical, that only professional bakers and some rare specimens of rural grandmothers can prepare.
That could not be much further from the truth.
Anyone can prepare bread, and in almost any conditions.
For the simplest, beduin type bread, one needs some flour, preferably some salt, water, and a hot surface to bake the bread. In a lack of pots and pans, a flat rock will do.
For a little more complicated, raised bread, some additional materials, such as milk powder, sugar, oil, and dry yeast is required.
I tried the latter one with my trusty Mini Trangia.
To raise the dough with yeast, especially dry yeast, takes some time and preparation, but with a little bit of planning, it is relatively easy thing to do, even in subzero conditions.
First thing to do is to heat up some water to +42 C, which is optimal temperature for dry yeast. If the water is too cold, it may take unnecessarily long time to wake up the yeast, but on the other hand, if the water is too hot, the yeast will die. Therefore, it is better to be safe than sorry, and use water that is not much warmer than your body temperature.
In addition to the warmth of the water, the yeast also needs some form of carbohydrates to wake up, and for that purpose, it is a good idea to mix the milk powder, sugar, and salt together with the yeast. The yeast does not need the salt, but by melting the salt in to the liquid, one can avoid possible surprise salty spots in the final product.
When the yeast is suspended into the liquid, it is time to carefully mix all of the ingredients into a ziplock bag. (In addition to the basic ingredients, in this recipe I also used some oat meal, which gives some texture to the final product).
To do its magic, the yeast needs some time in a warm environment (anything between 1 and 4 hours), and for that the best place in cold camping or hiking conditions, is a loose pocket close to your skin (remember to seal the ziplock bag!)
After these preparations, you have 1 to 4 hours to hike on, or to do your things around your camp.
If you did not manage to kill the yeast with too hot water, in one to four hours, due to the production of carbon dioxide, the ziplock bag should look like a balloon, and the dough should be ready to meet the pan.
To bake the bread, I usually grease the Mini Trangia lid with some oil. Due to the teflon coating of the lid and the oil in the dough, greasing the pan is probably a bit of an over kill, but I have my old habits. Then I squeeze a child’s fist size piece of dough onto the pan, and pat it to 1 to 2 cm thick cake. The actual baking, or frying, the bread with the Mini Trangia requires some hands on time.
Due to the short distance between the flame and the pot holder, in order to prevent the burning of the bread, instead of placing the pan on its place, one has to hold the pan about 10 to 15 cm above the flame. Holding the pan for 6 to 8 minutes may sound like a long time, but I can guarantee that after tasting the freshly baked self made bread in the middle of nowhere, you cannot wait to begin the next baking session.