Do you know what is always missing from a night cooking around the campfire? Cake. No decent afternoon tea on the lawn or picnic finishes without a sweet spongy treat, so why should a campfire dinner be any different?
Well actually there are lots of reasons, one being that the key to great baking is consistent temperature, as anyone who has been on the receiving end of a baker’s blood-curdling scream of “DON’T OPEN THE OVEN DOOR YOU’LL LET THE HEAT OUT” will testify. And sadly, of all the barbecue’s wonderful characteristics, consistent and even heat is not one of them.
Which is why the good people of Jamie Magazine have endeavoured to invent a recipe for campfire cake. Their new issue is all about making the most of summer (let’s face it in the UK you have to), so there are lots of lovely ideas for doing just that, including a great ice cream feature! But their camping article is really the star, and with some clever little campfire hacks they’ve managed to produce a damned delicious cake.
But why not just bake it before you leave? It seems logical but for two things. Firstly, try to protect a cake in a backpack, and secondly, this cake is simply made to be served warm, so it’s still got crisp edges but a soft, moist and steaming middle – gently warming the little drizzle of cream you should serve it with.
So come on, give this incredible peach and rosemary cake a go. When that smell reaches the rest of the campsite, you’ll be the envy of everyone for miles around.
Peach & rosemary camping cake
Recipe by Alice Hart, photo by Andrew Montgomery
190g butter, very soft, plus extra for greasing
150g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
220g golden caster sugar
2 medium eggs
75g ground almonds
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
190ml buttermilk, at room temperature
2 tsp chopped rosemary leaves, plus 1 tbsp whole leaves
1 white peach or nectarine, halved, destoned and thinly sliced
Cream or yoghurt, to serve (optional)
Make sure your coals are white hot and ashen with no sign of a flame, then pick one of the following methods: Sit a baking sheet with a 5cm layer of sand over the coals; or arrange a couple of large flat rocks on top of the coals; or have ready a 23cm cake tin, a trivet and a casserole or similarly sturdy lidded pan that will fit the cake tin inside.
Grease a 23cm lidded cast-iron frying pan with butter and dust it with flour, shaking off the excess. If using the casserole, trivet and cake tin method, grease and line the tin.
Put all of the ingredients (except the whole rosemary leaves and the peach or nectarine) in a bowl and beat until smooth. Pour it into your frying pan or cake tin and level off the surface. Arrange the sliced fruit on top in a circular pattern, slightly pushing it into the batter, then scatter over the rosemary leaves.
If using the cast-iron frying pan, cover the cake with a layer of foil, put the lid on, then sit it on the sand or rocks and, using tongs, arrange glowing coals on top. If using the cake tin method, pop the trivet into the casserole pan, lower the tin onto it, pop on the lid and sit it over the coals.
Bake the cake for 30–50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Check it after 15 minutes – if it’s turning too brown at the edges, lower the heat by moving the cake elsewhere.
Serve it straight from the pan or tin, with cream or yoghurt, if you like.
This recipe comes courtesy of Jamie Magazine, our gorgeous monthly mag full of recipes and travel writing from Jamie and the best chefs and writers in the world. You can get a year’s subscription for just £19.95 (plus postage outside of the UK), click here.
You can buy the latest magazine for just £3.99 at WHSmith, supermarkets and leading independent newsagents.