“Backcountry fire-cooked desserts often take a back seat to more common campfire dishes, like breakfast hashes and one-pan meals. This is a mistake. It is true that most dessert recipes benefit from the controlled environment of your home kitchen and calibrated ovens, but this doesn’t apply to all desserts. For reasons that are beyond me, some recipes seem to thrive in a rustic wood-fired kitchen. Cobbler is one such recipe. For starters, cobbler just looks right at home in a cast-iron Dutch oven. Given the rustic nature of cobbler, it seems to get even better when cooked by fire. The irregular look and the slight char that comes with sometimes uneven heat only makes cobbler better.”
– Connor Gabbott, Backcountry Chef
Due to the time of year, this recipe used frozen strawberries and frozen peaches, but we were able to harvest some beautiful fresh rhubarb to add-in. Substitute any berry or fruit of your choice; the only thing to adjust would be the cook time on the fruit, to ensure the right amount of liquid before baking the cake mix.
The recipe itself doesn’t change much at all when cooked in a cast-iron Dutch oven over a fire. To pull it off, the most important part is having the right Dutch oven and controlling the heat. Dutch ovens designed for campfire cooking will have legs on the bottom to prevent the coals from being smothered when the Dutch oven is placed on top. The lid should have sides that allow coals to be piled on top, a handy temperature guide underneath the lid, and a handle to move the Dutch oven when hot.
Before cooking anything in cast iron, be sure that the pot is extremely clean and well-seasoned to prevent food from discoloring and sticking.
Makes approximately 6–8 servings.
1 ½ cup All-purpose flour
¾ cup Steel cut oats
1 tsp Baking powder
½ tsp Baking soda
¾ tsp Kosher salt
¼ tsp Cinnamon
¾ cup Buttermilk
1 ½ lbs Strawberries
1 ½ lbs Peach slices
3 Stalks rhubarb, ½” sliced
1 pod Vanilla bean, split down the middle and scraped out (powdered vanilla will also work: use ¼ teaspoon or less)
1 ½ cups Brown sugar (this is not a super sweet cobbler; if you prefer yours sweeter, add more.
¼ cup Bourbon
1 tub Thick Greek lemon yogurt
Before heading out into the backcountry, mix all the dry ingredients, and transfer them to a suitable container. I like to store the whole egg in the middle of the dry ingredients to protect it during transport.
- Combine the fruit, sugar, vanilla, and bourbon in the Dutch oven and place over a bed of coals next to a fire.
- Cook the fruit down, stirring intermittently, until the liquid has reduced to cover half the fruit.
- Meanwhile, transfer the dry cake ingredients to a bowl.
Shake the egg and buttermilk in the container used for the cake ingredients and mix the wet into the dry ingredients.
- Form the cake mix in a ½” thick layer on top of the cooked fruit. Depending on the size of your Dutch oven, the batter may go right to the edge or not.
- Cover the Dutch oven with the lid and place over the top of a small bed of coals away from the fire. The coals should cover approximately a quarter of the bottom of the Dutch oven.
- Transfer a thin single layer of coals onto the lid and bake for 20 minutes. Knowing the right amount of coals takes practice. It’s better to start slow and add more to brown the cobbler at the end. A good cast-iron Dutch oven may have some coal/temperature guidelines underneath the lid (see image); if this is the case, try and bake the cobbler at 350℉.
- Check the cobbler and test for doneness. The topping should be solid to the touch. If it needs more color, add a fresh layer of hot coals and cook until browned. Total cook time will be approximately 25 minutes.
- Serve the cobbler with lemon yogurt.