Friday, July 22, 2011

Apple Pancakes at the Campground...

Looks like the tide is out.  I could easily sit here
for another four hours and watch it creep towards the shore.

When staying at Mount Desert Campground, there are two different schools of thought that we consider when deciding how to spend our morning hours.

On the one hand, we may have gone to bed the previous evening with visions of a possible eighteen-mile bike ride on the carriage roads, or perhaps a four or five-mile hike spanning several mountain peaks.  The trails in Acadia are set up in a manner that allows you to bag three, four, or even five mountain peaks in a day, if you're feeling ambitious.  In that case, we'll typically get up at the crack of dawn, make a quick pot of coffee, and eat a simple breakfast of granola bars, fruit, or cold cereal.

On the other hand, we may have already tackled the almost-twenty-mile bike ride on the previous day.  In that case, we'll probably spend most of the morning sitting around the campsite in our lounge chairs, sipping coffee, and enjoying an eight-course breakfast.

This may take up to four hours.  But really, isn't that the point of camping?

There's plenty to do in Acadia National Park.  However, you could spend your entire day lounging around the campground, and you wouldn't feel guilty about it.
Look at the bubbly foam on top.
You can tell that's freshly roasted.
On the morning after our long bike ride, we did just that.

Our breakfast began as usual, with a mug of freshly brewed coffee.  When it comes to coffee, many folks take shortcuts on their camping trips, settling for a pre-ground, low quality blend of piss-poor robusta coffee, boiled and forced through a cheap campfire percolator.

This is fine...  if you're okay with drinking coffee that tastes like sweat sock and toenail cheese.

I, however, do not enjoy rancid coffee.

Using our Zassenhaus manual burr grinder, along with our large pour-over brewing cone and 60-oz stainless steel thermos, we enjoyed freshly-roasted coffee at the campsite all week long.

The coffee of that particular morning was Guatemala Huehuetenango -Finca La Providencia Dos, courtesy of Sweet Marias, which I'd roasted just four days earlier in my garage.

After we finished our first cup, I fired up the Coleman propane stove and started sauteing the vegetables that were leftover from the previous evening's campfire foil dinners.  Meanwhile, my wife began beating the hell out of six eggs.  When the veggies were ready, she nudged me aside, heated up the non-stick griddle, and assembled a diaper-sized omelet...  which we scarfed down within minutes.

     "Still hungry?" she asked, looking over at me.

     "Yeah," I said, as omelet detritus clung to the corners of my mouth.  "I could probably eat something else."

     "Let's do the pancakes," she suggested.  "We can cook up that apple leftover from yesterday's lunch."

     "Good call," I said.

That roasted veggie omelet wasn't enough.
And here is where I'll explain how to enjoy homemade pancakes at the campground, with very little effort.

As with coffee, many people's idea of making pancakes while camping is to buy the soulless bag of powdered buttermilk mix, dump some into a mixing bowl, and just add water.  While this is certainly convenient, it's not going to win any awards with the Food Network.

On the other hand, there's no need to haul along large bags of flour and sugar, along with containers of baking soda, baking powder, and salt from your home pantry.  Trying to open up a five-star bakery on the rocky banks of beautiful Somes Sound is not the best idea.

It would be messy and complicated, and you'd probably look like a damn fool.

Your best strategy is to mix all of the dry ingredients in pre-measured portions back at home, before you actually leave for your camping trip.  This gives you the best of both worlds, so to speak.

On the day before you leave for the campground, gather a mixing bowl and sifter, along with your measuring cups and spoons, and sift together the following ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup any other kind of flour (i.e. whole wheat or white whole wheat)
  • 2 TBS sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
Add 1/4 tsp kosher salt and 1 TBS ground flaxseed to the mixture separately and blend in with a wire whisk.  These larger grains may clog your equipment, so you don't want to add them to your sifter.

The view from the fifth mile of our eighteen-mile bike ride.

Once the dry ingredients are blended, simply dump the mixture into a small zipper baggie.

That's your basic dry mix, which will provide enough pancakes for two people.  If you'll be cooking for four, simply double the recipe.

Also, if you think you'll want pancakes on more than one morning, I would recommend putting each batch together separately.  You could try making a giant batch and dividing into portions.  However, you run the risk of a batch of flat, limpid pancakes if all of your baking soda and powder makes it into one portion.

Yeah, I know that sifting is supposed to distribute everything together evenly, but I'd rather not take the chance.

On the morning that you want to make the pancakes, dump one of the bags of pre-mixed dry ingredients into a medium-sized mixing bowl.  In a separate container, combine the following ingredients:
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 cup of soy milk
  • 2 TBSP of light olive oil...  or applesauce.
Fold the wet ingredients into the dry mix until the entire mixture is evenly moist and coated.

Golden and tender.
Those are ready to go!
DO NOT over-mix.  There should still be plenty of lumps in the batter.  Set the mixture aside.

Next, it's time to make the warm apple mixture.  Find that lone apple that's leftover from the previous day's hike.  It's probably sitting at the bottom of your day pack, along with that crushed, half-eaten granola bar.  It may even be somewhat warm.

That's okay.  Just peel it and chop it up into bite-sized chunks.

Then, coat the bottom of a medium saucepan with a thin layer of maple syrup.  Add the apples to the pan, fire up the burner on the Coleman stove to medium, and stir the apples around to coat them with syrup.  Soon, your apple mixture will begin to bubble and boil.  At this point, turn the heat down to low and simmer for about ten minutes.  Once the mixture has thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat.

Now, you can make your pancakes.  Go ahead, move the griddle to the burner and turn the heat back up to medium.  The griddle will be ready when a few drops of water dance and sputter on the hot surface.

At this point, drop small scoopfuls of batter on...  well...  you know how to make pancakes.  If you really want an in-depth discussion on the art of cooking the pancake, see my earlier post about making buttermilk pancakes.

Once they're ready, heap them onto your plate and top with a generous scoop of warm 'n chunky maple-apple mixture.

Take your plate to your camp chair, along with your second cup of coffee, put your feet up, and enjoy your breakfast.

You've earned it.

They were really good.
But we weren't completely full until we had a bowl of oatmeal.

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