Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Squirrel Fishing

I thought I'd share with you a little doodle I had in the last edition of the Forest School Association newsletter. This is based on something that happened with a group I was working with a few years ago. 

When you follow the children's ideas you end up in very interesting places! 

forest school, forest schools, outdoor play, nature, children

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Sweet treats; Baking in the woods

Well-being is really important, especially if you are working outside all day in the cold and rain. So with that in mind I thought I would share with you some of my favourite outdoor cooking treats, suitable for a day on the woods or a Forest School. 

You'll notice there are no times for any of these recipes, that's because fire baking isn't as consistent as using an oven. I've found the best guide is my nose. As soon as the smells start wafting, I start checking! 

The cake in the picture is cooked in a dutch oven, which is a big cast iron pot with a lid. The lid is designed so you can put embers on top and heat it from above. You don't need to have a special dutch oven, any pan that is suitable for the fire can be used with an oversize lid (to stop ash dropping in). One good tip is to turn the pan lid upside down. The lid then stops the small bits of embers falling off. 

Heat the pan over a fire first to get the temperature up.
 This is just like heating the oven before you put a cake in.
Then put the embers on top with some small sticks to keep
the fire going. 
One thing I'm gradually discovering is if you put all the heat from the top when
baking you are less likely to burn the bottom. 

You can use this technique to bake any kind of cake, biscuit or bread. On a recent Kindling training course Cheryl and Belinda brought a ready made cake mix along to try that.

The result was really tasty! 

Bannock: This is a very traditional way to make unyeasted bread and is very flexible recipe.

This bannock had buttermilk and egg in it which is what made it rise so well.
Chris and Gerard baked this on a Kindling training course. 

Chris and Gerard
Yeasted bread,
sourdough baked in a dutch oven
You can also bake without lugging pans around. I've been baking using hazel leaves to wrap a little bit of biscuit dough or cake mix and then pop the parcels onto a hot stone or pan for 10- 15 minutes or so. 
This macaroon recipe also works really well cooked this way. 

These leaves will be used to cook a bit of cookie dough
Wrap up like a little parcel, and with the ends tucked underneath,

Little cake bites wrapped in hazel leaves. Which is all edible.

You can also use foil for baking instead of leaves but I'm trying to find natural alternatives to foil because of the number of times I have found a nice fire place to cook in and someone has left it full of half burnt aluminium foil. But that said here is another classic outdoor on a fire baking trick. Chocolate pudding in an orange.

This pudding is pretty simple. Cut the top of the orange off and scoop out all the flesh. Half fill the empty shell with a regular cake mix, I think chocolate cake mix works well. Cook in the embers until those smells start wafting! 

Yum! all these treats are making me peckish. I'd better go and chop some wood for the fire so I can really work up an appetite!

Recipe cards made at

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