{diy project} Open Hearth Cooking

This year we decided to try cooking on our temporary outdoor fireplace while we boiled our sap into maple syrup.  Cast iron is perfect for cooking on coals.  Being pack rats, we just happen to have a vintage cast iron twelve-inch three-legged Dutch oven that someone gave us a couple of years ago because he thought it was too heavy to use.  This thing is really heavy, so he had a point.

Three-legged cast iron dutch oven with a lid that has a slight inversion, perfect for hearth cooking.
Three-legged cast iron dutch oven with a lid that has a slight inversion, perfect for hearth cooking.

We had never tried hearth cooking, beyond some basic toasting and corn popping, so this was definitely a challenge.

When we built the fireplace, Michael added a brick hearth in front this year to accommodate our dutch oven.  It was just a platform made from bricks at the front of the firebox and slightly off to one side.

the hearth in front of the firebox
the hearth in front of the firebox

When we had a nice bed of coals going in the fire, we shoveled some of them out onto the hearth, then set the dutch oven on top of them to heat up.  Once it was hot, we added a quarter stick of butter to the pan. After the butter melted and just slightly browned, we spooned in corn bread batter.

Corn bread batter in the dutch oven.
Corn bread batter in the dutch oven.

We then placed the lid on the dutch oven and heaped more coals on top of the lid.  The idea was that the heat from the coals would bake the corn bread.

Coals above and below the dutch oven.
Coals above and below the dutch oven.

We let it sit for about twenty minutes, then carefully removed the lid by using a fire place hook to lift it off the dutch oven.  Voila, corn bread.  It was astonishingly delicious.

Hearth-baked corn bread.
Hearth-baked corn bread.

We also made boxty on our bed of coals, in honor of St Patrick’s day.  We burnt it slightly, but we didn’t care because by then we had spent several hours drinking rum-laden hot sap in the cold air.  It tasted perfectly fine.

Slightly burnt boxty
Slightly burnt boxty

This is the corn bread recipe I used, adapted for kitchen rather than hearth baking.  It is my family’s favorite corn bread.

RECIPE: Corn Bread

Mix together:

  • 1 1/4 cup white flour
  • 3/4 cup corn meal
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 5 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt

In separate small bowl beat:

  • 1 egg with 1 cup milk

Add wet to dry, plus:

  • 2 tbsp melted butter

Mix until just combined.

Bake at 375 degree in a buttered pie dish or cast iron pan for 30 minutes or until lightly browned around edges.

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. Ahhh I love cooking with a dutch oven; thanks for the recipe, it looks amaaazing!

  2. Love dutch oven and cast iron cooking – YUM:) Thanks for sharing – Happy Weekend!

  3. narf77 says:

    It’s a wonder you could find the Dutch oven after that, let alone not burn yourselves on the coals 😉 Bet it tasted MAGNIFICENT out there in the cold and hope you had lots of good butter to spread it with 🙂

    1. Dianna says:

      didn’t need extra butter, it was infused with it. It was magnificent.

      1. narf77 says:

        You can still remember? You didn’t have enough rum 😉

        1. Dianna says:

          you’re right! I will have to remedy that next year.

          1. narf77 says:

            Can’t wait to read about it! ;). (Maybe limit the hot coals and up the bottles of rum 😉 )

  4. explodyfull says:

    Firstly I want that pot, it looks great and secondly your bread looks delicious and I want to try open fire cooking too!

    1. Dianna says:

      The pot was lucky, but you could do it on a regular lidded cast iron pot. Build a fire! The bread is easy

  5. ball says:

    Wow! Finally I got a weblog from where I know how to really obtain helpful data
    concerning my study and knowledge.

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