to Make Steamed Breads
Why would you want to make steamed bread?
Because it is darned good, it is darned easy, and you
don't have to heat up the darned oven. Because you don't
have to heat up the oven, you can cook it anywhere --
on the stove, on the grill, or over a campfire. It works
as backpacking fodder, in an RV, or in an emergency.
You can make it even easier by mixing up the ingredients
at home. Then it only takes minutes to stir up when
you're on the road.
If you like quick breads -- think banana
nut, cranberry nut, and date nut breads -- you'll love
steamed breads. Steamed breads are moister and denser
than most quick breads and are often topped with a rich
sauce like a dessert -- in fact, it is more cake or
pudding-like than bread-like. Many heritage cookbooks
have recipes for steamed bread, but you can experiment
with quick bread recipes. Most will work as well steamed
as they do baked.
Steamed bread is more of a method than
a recipe. Here's how to do it:
1. Pick a muffin or quick bread recipe
or mix that does not require the creaming together
of sugar and butter or shortening. You can buy mixes
in the grocery store or at Web sites like ours, The
2. Mix the dry ingredients together.
Add the liquid ingredients and stir until combined.
Scrape the batter into a well-greased pan or vertical
can that will fit inside a larger pan.
3. Place several inches of water in the
larger pan. Place some stones or other items in the
bottom of the pan to elevate the smaller pan.
4. Put heavy duty aluminum foil over
the smaller pan or can. Tie a string tightly around
the pan to hold the foil in place. Place the smaller
pan on the stones in the larger pan and set the water
5. Let 'er simmer. It will take about
two hours to cook completely. You will have to add
water to the outer pan a couple times to keep it from
boiling dry. Once it is done, loosen the dessert and
invert the can or pan onto a serving plate. You can
serve it without a sauce but a sauce is easy and makes
your bread simply decadent.
Why it Works
Heat sets the bread/cake by coagulating the proteins
in any egg you may add or gelatinizing the starches
in the flour. Placing the pan or can on stones in a
larger pan is simply a make-shift double boiler. The
double boiler controls the temperature, submersing the
bread in boiling water without concentrating heat on
the bottom of the pan that would scorch the product.
The tied foil over the pan contains the steam. As long
as water remains in the pan, it is hard to burn the
There you go -- an easy way to
make steamed breads without an oven and a great
road food. Try them. You'll like them because they are
good, and you'll keep trying them because they are so
easy and convenient. Get started with our tried-and-true
recipe for Date
Nut Bread with Butterscotch Sauce.
Weaver -- having burnt food from Miami, Florida
to Point Barrow, Alaska -- is RTA's road food expert.
He has logged thousands of hours on the roads, trails,
and waterways of America including many of Alaska's
wilderness rivers and has consistently been elected
the trips' "chief cook and bottle washer."
Dennis is currently general manager at The
Prepared Pantry, a company in Rigby, Idaho,
that produces ready-to-eat meals and baking mixes
packaged in Mylar. Weatherproof, bug-proof, and
critter resistant, they're ideal for both roadtrips
and back woods camping. Dennis may be reached at