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The Perfect Campfire Series

Building a great fire is an artform (I’ll write about it another day), but when I was craving some home cooking the other day I thought about something my family used to do on camping trips when I was a kid: Campfire Cake.

You will need to bring:

  • A box of cake mix (one makes about 4-5 cakes, so take that into account. I prefer chocolate.)*
  • The appropriate amount of cooking oil (check the recipe)
  • The appropriate amount of water (check the recipe)
  • A large navel orange for each person
  • A mixing bowl and spoon
  • Tin foil

This is a great recipe for dessert because it cooks best at the end of the night when the fire is more hot coals and less direct flame. Each person takes an orange, and cuts the top off—similar to when you’re cutting a pumpkin top off for a jack o’lantern. Then you scoop the orange pieces out and eat them, or save them for the morning for fresh juice if you can cool them somewhere. This part is fun for kids, but make sure to help them…probably doesn’t need to be said. The secret here is not to over-scoop the orange, or you lose some of the flavor in baking. Leave a little pulp in, in other words.

Mix the cake batter as per the box instructions. Then pour batter in the “bottom” of the orange until it’s about 2/3 full. It will rise like a regular cake. Put the “lid” on the orange and carefully wrap it in tin foil while keeping it right side up.

Place the wrapped orange in the coals of the fire. My dad used to build a handle on his tinfoil while constructing so that the orange could be retrieved safely with a stick. Smart guy! Let them cook about 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of one cleanly.

Let cool a moment, then eat them right out of the orange. The cake will have a nice orange flavor, especially if you left enough pulp and juice in the orange itself. Once you’ve eaten the cake, you can throw the bowl away, which is a bonus. Remember not to throw your orange peels in the woods as they take a long time to biodegrade. Carry them out, along with the rest of your trash.

I think I’m going to make one of these tonight.

*It’s best not to choose one of those box recipes that involves eggs, as eggs are difficult to bring camping (and the odds of undercooking are greater). Unless, of course, you have a pet chicken that you bring camping with you. Joking! Hello, is this thing on?

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