Ash cake is one of the easiest bread that can be made from very simple ingredients. Knowing this survival recipe is a must for any modern camper.
In our previous post, you learned how to make Lemon Pie Filling, now you’re going to learn how to make ash cake. Below, we’re going to cover the step-by-step instructions for this cake recipe.
What is Ash Cake?
Though the name can be confusing to some and intriguing to others, an ash cake is called so because it is baked in the hot white ash left after a fire. It’s treated as a bread alternative, even though it can also be labeled as “ash bread”.
Basically ash cake is made of primarily flour, cornmeal, water, and a dash of baking powder and salt.
It is suitable for people who have very few ingredients available at hand and need a quick source of energy.
In the 18th century in the US, soldiers used to be issued ration for several days or even months at a time. Since bread did not keep well for a long period, the soldiers were given dry flour.
This flour, mixed with water, a little salt and some kind of fat could be baked using rudimentary tools over a campfire. This is how the ash cake originated- purely as a survival recipe to feed hungry soldiers fighting in a war.
Civil War Recipe
In order to make the ash cake recipe, you will need some very basic ingredients and a wood fire. That’s why a family camping trip is a perfect opportunity for you to try this recipe.
Read on to know the details of the recipe.
The ingredients for ash cakes are simple, just like the recipe for any other cake. You will need:
- 1 Cup of flour. You can use any kind. Acorn or buckwheat flour works really well in this recipe
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 Tablespoon of butter
- 2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/4t Cup of water to make dough
- Chopped up nuts such as walnuts or pecans
- Frozen or fresh berries
The primary equipment required to make ash cake is a wood fire. Following are some essential points you have to consider regarding the wood fire:
- The ash should be white-hot and not gray. If the ash is not white, then the bread will take a longer time to cook and the results will not be as good.
- If you are making this on a cold or wet day, be sure to let the fire burn for at least an hour before dying down to ashes. This will ensure that the ground is heated up and the ash retains the heat for cooking.
Other than the fire, you will need a bowl to mix the dough in and a pair of tongs to handle the hot bread. Traditionally, this was cooked using a bannock board. Having one isn’t necessary to cook it though.
- Build the fire and light it. Wait till it burns down to a layer of coals.
- Let the coals turn into white ash.
- In the mixing bowl take the flour, add the salt and the butter. Mix this well.
- Now add the water, a little bit at a time and knead with your hands to make a thick dough. The dough should not be over handled and must not stick to your hands when done.
- Add in your optional ingredients to the dough at this point. Mix well.
- Form sections of the dough- roughly the size of tennis balls.
- Using your hands, flatten these balls to the shape of a pancake. Leaving them at roughly 1/4″ thickness will give the best results. This is the step where you can involve the entire family.
- Once flattened, carefully place these cakes on the white ash of the fire and let them cook about 3-4 minutes per side or until browned.
- Carefully remove them from the fire using a pair of tongs.
- Serve them immediately as is or with a drizzle of honey on top.
Check out the Townsends video covering the best methods for making this Native American recipe.
Follow these instructions for ash cake to make the ultimate survival food and turn the next family camping trip into a culinary adventure as well.
You can try variations of this recipe by using pancake mix or cornmeal flour or even a muffin mix. You can also try making ash cake cornbread — the only difference being using cornbread mix instead of pancake mix.
If you liked this survival food recipe, you may also like these recipes:
Do you know any other primitive bread recipes?