How to make Red River bread over a campfire
- Unbleached bread or all purpose flour is preferable 1 litre (4 cups)
- Water, cold 375 ml (1.5 cups)
- Instant yeast 10 ml (2 tsp)
- Salt 10 ml (2 tsp)
- Brown sugar 60 ml (2 tbsp)
- Red River cereal 125 ml (0.5 cups)
- Water for soaker 125 ml (0.5 cups)
Red River Soaker – lightly toast Red River Cereal. While still warm, put in a container. Pour soaker water over hot cereal and cover with a lid. Let stand for minimum of 1 hour.
Mixing – mix instant yeast with cold water, set aside for 5 minutes.
Dry blend the flour, sugar and salt in a separate plastic container with a lid that will close tightly.
Mix the yeasted water with the soaked cereal and pour over the dry blended ingredients. Hand-mix dough just enough so there are no dry spots showing in the dough. Cover with the tightly fitted lid.
Fermentation – let dough stand in a cool place (12-14 C/ 53-57 F) for 12-16 hours.
After this fermentation period, remove the lid. Take the dough by hand at the outer edge of container at the 12 o'clock position and stretch and fold it over, pressing into the center of the dough. Continue to stretch and fold at the 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 o'clock positions.
Flip the dough over in the container so that the upward-facing surface is completely smooth. Replace lid and set aside for 20 minutes. Repeat the stretch, fold and rest procedures two more times.
Dividing and shaping – after the final 20-minute rest, divide the dough if making more than one loaf.
Loosely fold the outside edges into the center, and roll the dough over so that the upward-facing surface is smooth.
Pre-shape your dough so it will fit your baking container, such as a round or oval Dutch oven. Lightly flour a flat surface that will be used to rest the pre-shaped dough. Cover the dough with a clean tea towel and plastic. Rest for 10-15 minutes.
Prepare a piece of parchment paper to fit the Dutch oven. It must be large enough to easily lower the dough, smooth side up, into a pre-heated Dutch oven without burning your fingers on the sides.
Repeat shaping procedure and place the dough on the parchment paper, cover with the tea towel and plastic.
Final fermentation – length of the final fermentation depends on the ambient temperature and the amount of yeast in the dough. Allow the dough to ferment until almost double its original size.
To check if the dough is ready to bake, gently touch the surface of the dough with your finger. If your finger leaves a slight impression, the dough is ready to bake. If the impression rapidly springs back, further fermentation is required. Continue to monitor the progress of the final fermentation.
Baking – when fermentation is complete, heat the Dutch oven by placing it in the oven heated to 425 F/218 C. Remove the preheated lid. Using the parchment paper to cradle the dough, gently lower it into the Dutch oven. Immediately replace lid and return to oven.
Bake for 20 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid after 20 minutes to allow excess steam and moisture to escape.
Continue baking for a further 10-12 minutes or until crust is a deep golden brown.
Outdoor baking – the same principles and procedures loosely apply if baking outdoors, whether on the barbecue or over an open fire. You must preheat the Dutch oven and maintain a temperature as even as possible during the baking process.
If baking over an open fire you must start with a good bed of coals and continually monitor and adjust the proximity and position of the Dutch oven to the heat source, otherwise it is easy to scorch the bread and produce your own briquette.