Baking in the backcountry can be tricky. As altitude goes up, leavening agents like baking powder become more potent and evaporation increases. And without directions or a recipe card at your fingertips,it is hard to remember how to compensate. Do I decrease baking powder by ½ teaspoon or 1 teaspoon at 5,000 feet? The solution: Use commercial cake mixes in a small oven bag. When you bake in an oven bag, evaporation is not a problem, and with commercial cake mixes, all you need to add is water and powdered eggs. Better yet, there’s no cleaning. Just don’t forget the frosting and, if applicable, birthday candles. —Laura Binks
Poppy Seed Cake
(makes 1 to 2 servings)
1 cup yellow cake mix
1 tablespoon powdered eggs
1 tablespoon whole poppy seeds
1 small oven bag
Combine yellow cake mix, powdered eggs, and whole poppy seeds in a small oven bag. Mix well and close with a tie. Store in refrigerator or freezer.
Add ¼ cup water to cake mix bag, and stir well so there are no dry lumps. Tie the bag closed, and form the bag into a roughly circular shape that will fit nicely into your pot. Place the bag in a pot with 1½ inches of boiling water. Lower heat to a simmer. Try to keep the bag in a horizontal position on the surface of the water. Bake 10 minutes and let stand for three minutes. Cut bag open to allow steam to vent, then dig in!
Note: If you don’t like poppy seeds, try 2 tablespoons chocolate chips or 1 tablespoon minced dried apricot and 2 tablespoons chopped pecans.
*Recipe adapted from Backcountry Cooking: From Pack to Plate in 10 Minutes by Dorcas Miller