Any good camping trip is going to involve a good fire. It's just a fact of camping. While campfires are great for keeping you warm, keeping bugs away (except moths, those poor fools), and providing light, they are great at cooking your meals as well. In fact, if you grew up as a scout of some kind, there is a very good chance that you have done a good bit of cooking over a fire using foil, sticks, grills and dutch ovens.
The dutch oven in particular is wonderful for cakes, cobblers, stews or - today - personal pizzas for you and your hungry campers. This Instructable will detail making pizza over coals in a dutch oven.
You will need:
- Pizza dough (in this case pre-made, tube stuff)
- Pizza sauce
- A dutch oven
- Lighter fluid
- A spatula
- A clean, dry surface
- A spoon
Step 1: Fire
Aah, fire. Without it, there is no Instrucable and, let's be honest, no entertainment while camping. If you have a fire going already, clear yourself some space in the middle and dump your coals in. The flames will get them going. If you are fireless, get your coals piled up in your fire pit and build yourself a good fire.
If you're hungry now, apply lighter fluid sparingly. You really don't need much, and your camera lens probably doesn't care for a little lick from the flames.
Once your coals start to gray nicely, spread them out. If you're using lump hardwood, those coals are going to get very, very hot. The flames should have died down by now. You're ready to cook.
Step 2: Toppings
Depending on what you want with your pizza, this step may not be necessary. However, if you want to make your pizza awesome you are going to need to break out the skillet and some oil. If you don't have / don't want to carry a skillet, the dutch oven can do this job just as well. Use what makes sense to you.
We decided to go with spicy sausage, which was a very good choice. Anything you can throw on a pizza you can probably make in a cast iron skillet or dutch oven.
Keep in mind that the cast iron is going to get very hot very quickly and it is going to stay that way for quite a long time. Once your topping of choice is cooked, get it off the flames and set the skillet aside. That heat is going to remain and continue cooking for a bit.
Step 3: Prepare Your Oven
It's time for the oven, unless you decided to use it for your toppings. You can soap the bottom to make cleanup a bit easier later if you like. I did, and cleanup was easier.
Clear away some of the coals, because you are not really going to need all of them. If you find that you are getting too hot or too cold, move the coals as needed. Take some of the extra coals and get them up on the lid. That way you will have more even heating and the top of the pizza will not be completely uncooked.
Let the oven get nice and piping hot while you get your pizzas ready.
Step 4: Prepare Your Pizza.
Using your pizza dough of choice, start making your pizzas. I went with some pre-made tube dough. While it is always better to make your own pizza dough, that is another Instructable and we are trying to cook pretty quickly here. This step can be as simple or as complex as you like, depending on your camping trip.
Get your dough as flat as you can. This is important. The thinner you get the dough the faster it will cook through and the less chance you have of burning the bottom of your pizzas. Because we are on a camping trip and had to choose between the rolling pin and other, more important things, hands will have to make due. When flattening the dough, grab a ball and start stretching it with both hands. Once you start to get a slightly flatter ball, start slapping it against your cleaned surface.
Grab a corner and toss it down, then grab a different edge. The ball will start to flatten to the point that you can get it over your knuckles and stretch. With a little practice you will be able to get the dough nice and thin. Get your dough down onto your still clean surface and apply pizza sauce. As much or as little as you like. Add any toppings and cheese you like, and get ready to cook.
Step 5: Baking
While this seems like the easiest step, be careful. They are going to cook quickly and if you haven't oiled the oven sufficiently, they may stick.
Oil the bottom of the oven with a paper towel and some oil, then get your first pizza in there. You will probably hear it start to sizzle right away. Get the lid back on and start on your next pizza. Check on the pizza after a couple minutes, depending on how hot your oven is. The first pizza in particular may burn slightly. If the oven is far too hot, take it off the coals while the pizza is in there and put it back on between pizzas.
It helps to have a second person focusing on cooking while the first is focused on making the pizzas.
If you want to take a peek at the pizza, do it quickly. Get a spatula and lift the edge up to check the bottom. Don't worry if it starts to blacken a little. We had a couple of them get pretty dark on the bottom, but they still tasted great.
If you have a group of people with you, let them pick their own toppings and have yourself a pizza party. You should still have plenty of heat leftover for building a proper fire or roasting marshmallows.