RoadTrip America

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Road Food: Articles by Dennis Weaver
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How 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.

Tie foil with string

Raise smaller pan with stones


"I made this recipe for guests last weekend. It worked flawlessly, and it was delicious! I'm thinking about marinating the loaf in spiced rum or some other liqueur prior to serving next time…"

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 Prepared Pantry.

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 to boiling.

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 bread.

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.


Dennis WeaverDennis 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


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