If you want to become an invaluable member of a canoe group, learn how to bake. It's a skill that often admired and you can usually make others do almost anything if promised fresh bread for lunch.
Geoffrey Peake works on his barrenland bread at the west end of Carey Lake on the Dubawnt River in July 1985. (Photo - Michael Peake)
This is our basic recipe to which you can add sunflower seeds, cinnamon and brown sugar (creating cinnamon buns), or whatever you like.
It's important not to get too discouraged in the field because things can go wrong -- the oven rack can fall, the stove can run out of fuel, the temperature can drop -- and make your effort the subject of much derision. Geoff made a barbecue's worth of "bricks" before he finally mastered the fine art Barrenlands baking. We don't kid him anymore... at least not to his face. Here's our basic recipe for bread and Good Luck!
- Warm about 8 cups of water to around 100°F
- Mix 6 cups flour, 1/4 to 1/2 cup Sugar, 1 tsp. Salt, and 1 pkg yeast (if using the fast rising type) in a mixing bowl. If using normal yeast, proof the yeast first before adding to the mixture.
- When water is ready, mix the water slowly, adding only enough to give it the right consistency. The dough should be sticky, but not runny. Amount of water will vary.
- Knead the dough for 10 minutes or so. Mid-way through, work in 4tbs of butter or oil. Dough should be elastic and pliant but not too firm. Add flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the sides of the bowl.
- Let dough rise until it has doubled in bulk, (this usually takes a couple of hours at 75°). The slower the rise the better quality of the bread -- up to a point. Keep dough away from drafts, or keep it in a sleeping bag if the temperature is too cold.
- Punch down the dough and knead it for a minute. A second rise is not necessary, but will make better bread (theoretically!) Cut the dough in half and put into two well-oiled bread tins. If in a hurry, loaves can be baked now, but it is best to let them rise until they increase in bulk by a third to a half.
- Bake at 350°-375° for about 45 minutes (longer in a Coleman oven) Bread is done when it has a hollow sound when lightly tapped. Take the bread out of the pan and set upon a wire rack until cooled. Be careful to overbake or bread will be too dry.