Summer is coming, which means outdoor cooking is about to get awesome. We smoke and grill all year round, but I especially love campfire cooking, which just isn’t as fun when it’s freezing cold outside. Yesterday it was actually slightly warm, so we burned a big pile of yard debris (yay pine trees in wind storms), which resulted in a mountain of glowing embers perfect for making Salty’s favorite cobbler, a throwback from his Boy Scout days. You can also make this recipe in the oven if open fires aren’t an option where you live, but there is something extra satisfying about burying a big Dutch oven in glowing coals if you get the chance. Experiment with different fruit combos too-Salty’s favorite is canned peaches, which are also easy to transport for actual camping.
Special Equipment: Camping Dutch oven (non-enameled, with a lipped lid to hold coals and a handle for removing it from the fire), or a regular enameled Dutch oven if using a conventional oven.
2-3 cups fresh, frozen, or canned fruit
Saucy Note: If you’re using fresh or frozen berries (thaw them first), macerate them with sugar before adding them to the cobbler. Simply spread the fruit out on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with 1-2 tbsp. sugar (tart berries need more sugar, so use your best judgment.) Let the berries sit with the sugar on them for 30 minutes, and then mash slightly with a fork or spoon. If using canned fruit, like peaches, one large (15.9oz) can with syrup is all you need, and then all you have to do is dump the ingredients together.
1 box white cake mix
Build a campfire (or set your oven to 325°F). The cobbler needs about an hour of cooking time, so the fire needs to be big and sustainable enough to keep hot embers around the Dutch oven, but not so hot as to torch the cobbler. There also needs to be enough coals to mound around the sides and on top of the oven, so plan on having the fire going several hours before starting to cook. Invite your best pyro friends over and grill dinner outside and you’ll have no trouble achieving this task.
Macerate the fruit, if using berries (see note above). Line the Dutch oven with foil-the fruit can get really baked on if it leaks, so do a good job with this part. Grill foil can really come in handy, since it is wider than normal, or you can buy Dutch oven liners that are a single piece and make cleaning up super easy.
Pour fruit into the Dutch oven first, then sprinkle the powdered cake mix on in an even layer. Cover the Dutch oven with its lid, and make sure the foil is not interfering with the seal-you don’t want to get ash in your cobbler.
Create a well of hot coals at the edge of your campfire. It should be hot enough that you can’t hold your hand over it for more than 5 seconds. Place the oven in the well and gently push the coals up around the edges, as well as mounding an even layer on top of the lid. Maintain as constant of a temperature as you can-don’t move too many coals around, keep an eye out for sections that look like they’re getting cold, and be very patient-opening it early will not help anything. The best indicator of doneness will be the smell of caramelized sugar-you’ll start to notice the smell about 5-10 minutes before its done, and it will continue to deepen as it gets closer. The overall cooking time should be between 45-60 minutes depending on your fire temp, so if you start to smell caramelizing before at least 40 minutes of cook time your fire is too hot.
Once the smells of hot sugar have developed, carefully brush off the top coals and expose the sides enough that ash won’t fall in when you remove the lid. If finished, the cobbler should look crackly and golden brown. Replace the lid to protect it when removing it from the fire. If it needs more time, replace the lid and mound more coals on top for another 10-15 minutes.
Serve immediately in small bowls (or camping mugs if you’re actually roughing it). A little ice cream is great on top if you are enjoying the wonders of electricity.