Tag Archives: rolls

I’m Dreaming of a Black (Pot) Christmas

We had a wild hair and cooked Christmas dinner in dutch ovens. Overall it was great.

  • Potato Rolls
  • Turkey Roast
  • Roast Carrots
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Stuffing
  • Gravy
  • Salad
  • Peach Pie

What Went Well

The turkey roast was a three-pound thing in a net. A sauce of oil, garlic, blackened seasoning and a little cayenne pepper went over the top. An army of baby carrots stood guard. Cooked at 300°F until the cooking thermometer beeped at 170°F. Put it another place, which read 135°F, and waited for it to beep again. After checking other spots, the pot was moved inside to wait for the other dishes. The turkey roast came out very nice.

The drippings were sparse, but made a killer gravy.

The first batch of potato rolls came out perfect. Not as much flour was used so they weren’t as dry as we’ve done before. Golden brown tops made for great presentation.

Lessons Learned

  • Charcoal is unreliable when it gets small — it starts out as less heat, but cools down dramatically (including going out). The second batch of rolls came out barely cooked, and thus salvageable.
  • I finally gave in to the fact that we could use another 12″ dutch oven so everything can be cooked simultaneously.
  • We forgot to butter the sides of the pot for the rolls, so they stuck a little.
  • The pie crust was salty. This reminded me why I usually skip salt in a lot of recipes.
  • I have no idea what I’m doing with pies. I wonder if there’s an evening class on pies. There’s a long list of failures; for example, we couldn’t get it out of the pot without destroying it, so we served it in the pot. I’ve watch expert level cooks work pies. Mine was the pastry rendition of Frankenstein’s monster.
peach pie turkey roast potato rolls

12 Oct 2008: Dutch Oven Cooking Experiment


Dutch Oven Stand

Verdict: Great tool. I would like a couple more.
Where It Worked Well:

  • Keeping coals off of wood deck.
  • Place to put coals for bottom heat. Stable.

What I Would Tweak In Its Design:

  • I would prefer slightly larger, perhaps 2-3″ per side.

Wire Trivet

Verdict: Great tool. I would like a couple more.
Where It Worked Well:

  • Raising pot off coals.
  • Protecting surfaces from hot pot.
  • Holder for inverted lid.

Where It Worked Poorly:

  • Too tall to work as in-pan trivet.

Wisk Broom

Verdict: Necessary, but fair tool.
Where It Worked Well:

  • Removing bulk of ash.

Where It Worked Poorly:

  • Removing last layer of fine ash. Blowing with breath removed enough. Try compressed air.

Other Equipment Notes

  • I prefer the leg-bearing and flanged D.O.s to the unflanged pot. Buy an additional 10″ D.O.
  • I would like a 10″ deep skillet with skillet lid, like the 12″ we have. I’m suspicious about ash in the food.
  • I would like an additional 12″ D.O. so I can make a full batch of potato rolls.
  • I wonder whether I could get frying temperatures with a smaller chimney.
  • Compressed air can seemed to remove all the dust and ash.


Corn Bread

Verdict: Very good. Slightly burned on bottom.
What Worked: Adding a couple of bricks to raise temperature.
Tweaks to Try:

  1. A couple fewer bricks, or remove bottom heat earlier.
  2. Take out of D.O. and let cool on rack. If you let it cool in the D.O. condensation makes the bottom soggy after a while.
  • M. made corn bread in her 10″ D.O. She did everything except place the initial set of coals on the D.O.
  • I counted out 10±3 bricks, added 2 bricks to raise temperature from 325° to 350°, and added 2 more bricks because it was slightly cold.
  • We used ⅔ timing.

Peach Cobbler

Verdict: Failure. Burned on top. The rest was overcooked.
What Worked: Draining peaches.
Tweaks to Try: Watch the clock.

  • Used the 10″ pot without the flange or legs.
  • Raised the pot on the trivet so it was not sitting directly on the coals
  • Lost track of time. Looks like the peach goo on the bottom protected it from burning.
  • Cobbler flipped upside down just fine. Some peach goo stuck to the bottom.

Potato Rolls

Verdict: Slightly overcooked, visually perfect.
What Worked: Letting rolls raise in warm oven.
Tweaks to Try: If they’re just starting to turn golden, they should be done.

  • Prepared dough, placed one batch in the 12″ D.O. and the other in the 12″ deep frying pan with the frying pan lid for the final raising.
  • My intention was to cook the D.O. outside, and the pan in the oven so we’d have at least one good set of rolls if I ruined the D.O. batch.
  • I put the D.O. in the warm oven. The pan I put in my office.
  • The D.O. rolls rose perfectly. The office was apparently not warm enough for the yeast, and didn’t rise properly.
  • Dinner was pending, so I threw the D.O. in the oven and let L. care for it.
  • Repeated last time’s mistake. After 10 minutes the rolls were done, but not not all of them golden. Put them in for another 5 minutes. They were golden, but a bit overcooked.
  • The rolls were stuck to the bottom of the pan and a little brittle on the bottom because they were slightly overcooked. Could not flip them out.
  • Put the pan in the warm oven to let the other rolls finish rising. Will cook later tonight.

Spaghetti Sauce

Verdict: Perfect given limited ingredients.
What Worked:

  1. Putting pan directly on coals.
  2. I went easy on the home-grown basil. It’s much more potent than the store-bought basil.

Tweaks to Try: Use pan with lid.

  • Cooked in 10″ cast iron frying pan.
  • Chimney is only good for low heat. It is no good for frying temperatures.
  • Cooked directly on coals for higher temperatures.
  • Do not cook next to downwind D.O. I’m suspicious that some ash may have been blown into sauce, but nobody could tell whether it was true.

Dutch Oven Recipe: Potato Rolls

Picture of Potato Rolls

This is a fair bit of work, but very rewarding. You could prepare everything ahead of time at home and transport the dutch ovens to an event during step 10. I assume you could simply replace the damp towel with the lids, as they’re fairly tight and shouldn’t let the moisture out. I have not tried this.

Updated 2008-10-12.


Tried: Yes
Camp Friendly: No
Yield: 32 rolls
Ovens Needed: Two 12″ dutch ovens


½ cup sugar, fructose, or other sugar
1 tbsp. yeast
½ cup instant potatoes
5+ cups white flour
2 eggs
1½ cup warm water
½ cup
(one stick)
butter or margarine, softened


  1. Mix 1 cup warm water, sugar, and yeast. The sugar is food for the yeast. Splenda or another artificial sweetener will NOT work. Do not ajdust the quantity.
  2. Let the mixture stay warm; the water will tend to cool.
  3. Mix the other ½ cup of warm water and potatoes. Add to the yeast.
  4. Mix in butter, eggs, and 2 cups of flour. Mix really well. The consistency will be like cake batter.
  5. Cover with a damp (NOT wet) towel and set aside for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Scrub clean a large surface. Slowly mix in the remaining flour until not gooey. Sprinkle flour on the surface and knead for five minutes. Sprinkle flour on the dough so it doesn’t stick all over your hands.
  7. Take a stick of butter out of the refrigerator and rub it on the inside of a large bowl. Put the ball of dough in it, cover with a damp (NOT wet) towel and let it rise for 1-1½ hours in a very warm place. Note to self: See note on step #10 below.
  8. Take out of the bowl, and knead for a minute, sprinkling flour again so it doesn’t stick to everything.
  9. Divide the dough into equal halves. Each half will divide four times, for 16 rolls. Arrange in a greased 12″ dutch oven, spread out evenly. Repeat with the other half, filling a second dutch oven.
  10. Cover each D.O. with a damp (NOT wet) towel and let rise for 1-1½ hours in a very warm place. Note to self: Ensure the place is warm. One D.O. was in a very warm place, the other was not. Guess which one did not rise until placed in the very warm place?
  11. Bake at 375º 15-20 minutes, using ⅔ timing.


  • As always, please be aware that these are my personal notes. I may be verbose in places to remind myself of particular points on chemistry or methodology.
  • Note that I have a family member who has a sucrose intolerance, so there’s extra verbiage belaboring the point that this is a situation where the quantity of simpler sugars is important. If the yeast can’t eat, they can’t produce CO₂, and the bread won’t rise. Enough of that. 🙂