Cooking Ash Cakes – 18th Century Cooking Series S1E3

Cooking Ash Cakes – 18th Century Cooking Series S1E3


It’s very common for soldiers in the 18th
century, especially when they were on the march, they’d be issued their rations, maybe
several days ahead of time they’d be issued several days of meat and then they’d be
issued their flour or their bread ration, and because they would be gone for a while
they would likely be given just flour instead of bread as that would just go bad and so
there they were on the march with not very much equipment to use and all they had was
flour and they would have to make some kind of food with it. Today we’re going to make
fire cake or ash cake, a very, very simple thing that the soldiers would be able to make
with just the flour and a little bit of water. So what are we going to need to make ash cake?
Well, number one we’re going to need to have good ashes. We’re going to have to
have a really nice ash bed to work with, good and hot. So we don’t have very much equipment.
We’re going to try to do this with three different methods. We’re going to use a
simple bannock board, or if you don’t have a board like this, maybe you could just use
a half split of firewood that’s nice and flat. We’re also going to use a method where
we put leaves around our fire cake or ash cake and so all you’re going to need for
that is some large leaves like a grape leaf or a large tree leaf, burdock or cabbage leaves,
something like that. And the last method, we’re not going to use anything at all,
we’re just going to make our cake and we’re going to place them right on the coals.
So, now our coals are getting really close to being ready to use. Let’s make up our
dough. I’ve got a simple wooden bowl here for us to make our dough in, the flour that
we’ve been issued, and I’m going to make up 3 or 4 ash cakes here. If you have any
salt, available to you, which the soldiers may or may not have had salt that day or that
particular time, but salt will add a lot to the taste of your fire cake, so in this case
we are going to add a good bit of salt to it, and we’re going to stir that around
while our ingredients are still dry so it will be easy to mix. And now we’re going
to need some water. We add enough water to make a stiff paste, and we’re going to start
out with maybe a little less than we need so that we don’t go overboard. For the ash
cakes that we’re going to cook on the bannock board, we’re going to get this to be a little
stickier because we need to stick it to the board. It needs to stay there while it’s
cooking. Okay, we’ve got our dough mixed up. It’s
nice and the right kind of consistency, a little stiff but still sticky enough to work
with and I’ve got this. We’re going to take this one and we’re going to flatten
it out on our bannock board, going to get it nice and thin. The thinner, the better
it’s going to cook. We need to make sure that it’s sticky enough that it sticks to
the board. Our board has two holes in it so that we can prop it up. Let’s put this up
by the fire and let this cook while I’m working on the other ones.
Okay, we’ve got the fire banked up a little bit higher on this spot and I’m going to
place the board, I don’t want to get it too close so it catches on fire, but I can
feel the heat here, that feels pretty good. I’ve got our little stick here to prop it
up at an angle, and that feels really good. We’re going to let that cook.
Let’s use leaves for our next fire cakes. I’m going to keep watching that one and
make sure it doesn’t burn, but here’s our next fire cake. Let’s take out a dough
section here, and we’re going to make it into a patty. We’re not making it as thin
as that but, you know, thinish. We’re going to make it in relationship to the size of
our leaves. I’ve got here some wild grape leaves and some cottonwood leaves, depending
on the time of year, you know, different leaves are going to work better than other ones but
you want a nice big leaf that’s going to protect your fire cake, so let’s use our
grape leaf on the inside because a bit of the taste does end up on the fire
cake. We’re going to put grape leaves on the inside and then a little extra protection,
because the leaves are going to slowly burn through, we’re going to put the cottonwood
leaves on, and I’ve got a really nice coal section here, we’re just going to place
this right onto the coals. Since it’s got the coals right on top and below it, it’s
not going to take that long to cook, 3, or 4, maybe 5 minutes. That’s something you’re
going to judge, you’re not going to be able to tell, so it takes a little experience to
know when it’s ready to come out. The ash bed is really important that you’re cooking
on. If your ashes are grey, they’re probably already too cool to do any cooking on, like
this color. This white hot ash over here, it’s really warm, that’s the kind of ash
we’re cooking with. The stuff that’s still white. If it’s grey, it’s gotten too cold
to cook with. Our bannock board biscuit looks like it still
needs a little bit of time to cook. I’ll have to turn it over pretty shortly, but this
one’s probably ready to come out. It’s been about 4 minutes or so. I’m just going
to lightly scrape off our ashes from the top and scoop the whole patty out. There it is.
Let’s put it on top of this board so we can see how it turned out. There we are. It
feels like this one’s just about done. I could have probably left it in about another
minute or two but it’s still hot, it’s still cooking so I’m just going to go ahead
and set this off to the side where it will stay warm, but it’s still hot so it’s
still cooking on the inside. Our bannock board fire cake over here, you
can see it’s starting to brown up along the bottom side so I’m going to go ahead
and rotate the board so the other side, the top side of it, can cook. You want to be really
gentle when we turn this over so that we don’t knock the bread off, and I’m going to tilt
this a little bit further because our coals are getting a little bit cooler, but they’re
still really warm right there, so it should cook right up.
Well, let’s try our fire cake where we actually put it directly on the coals. If you don’t
have good leaves to work with you can just try cooking our fire cake right on the coals.
It’s going to char up on the outside but that’s all we have to work with so let’s
do it. We’re going to place it right on the coals here. I’ve got a nice hot section
of coals and we’ll place it right on there. I’m going to use my tomahawk because this
fire is hot. There we go, and I’m going to find some hot coals close by and we’re
going to set them on top, lightly and gently bury it in the hot coals. I’m not going
to bury it completely. I don’t want to lose it in the fire. I want to be able to see around
the edges just a little bit so I can watch it cooking.
Well, it looks like our bannock board fire cake is ready to pull off. It’s browned
up all over on the outside so we’re going to go ahead and pull this off the board and
put it onto our plate. This may be tough to get off, but this one came off, now you can
see it’s still a little damp on that side, cooked completely on that side. I call that
done. Well, our bannock bread’s off, the other
one’s out, it smells like our ash cake that’s cooking right here in the coals is probably
ready to pull out too, so let’s pull it out with that, dust the ashes off the top.
We’ve still got some that are sticking to the bottom, gently, might still be hot coals,
so I’m not going to touch them. A little bit of ash is known to calm your digestive
tract so the ash isn’t going to hurt you a bit, and it looks really good for cooking
right there in the coals. So there you have it. You’ve got the three
different kinds of ash cake or fire cake. We’ve got our bannock board cake, the one
we cooked right in the ashes and then the one we used the leaves for protection. Let’s
try these out. Definitely very edible, I think I’ll have them for supper tonight. Any of
these things you’ve seen here you can see on our website or in our print catalog and
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100 thoughts on “Cooking Ash Cakes – 18th Century Cooking Series S1E3”

  1. pointless eating those things, the calories you burn getting the firewood will be almost as much as the bread

  2. That kind of bread exists in almost every culture on earth. Where's flour there's this. Jewish pita, Slavic underflamers, Spanish tortilla… The most basic of breads. If you bake it twice you get a ships biscuit. Love them, gonna make them while camping this summer. You can add more seasoning, personally I like adding some pepper.

  3. I can't imagine that tasting delightful but I guess it would ease hunger pains so you could focus on other tasks, like staying alive.

  4. the one that was cooked right in the ash looked the best. I personally would of heated up the rocks and stuck them on there like pancakes. I am a mason so I guess I'd be partial to stone.

  5. I'd love to try making these, but I've gone keto and I doubt that using almond flour would a very authentic ash cake.

  6. I'd love to try making these, but I've gone keto and I doubt that using almond flour would a very authentic ash cake.

  7. These Revolutionary war episodes makes me wish someone would do something like a vlog during a historical reenactment. As if someone was recording during the event lol.

  8. I make these whenever I run out of bread, lovely with dip, lovely with cheese, lovely on their own, just a wonderful side dish or snack whenever being full is placed above nutrition

  9. When I was around ten years old or so I used to out fishing overnight and I would make these (or something like them). They were actually pretty good with chokecherry jelly on them (which my mom made) and a pike fillet for a main course.

  10. This is interesting in view of SHTF and bugging out. We might have to cook like this in a pinch. good to know.

  11. Really wish you could get a television series similar to Roy Underhill's 'The Woodwright Shop'. I get the same feeling of appreciating times past when watching your videos.

  12. you'd survive the shtf much longer than those dumb preppers who have alot of ammo and hoard instant foods

  13. I think I'll stay with stick bread. I just wrap my dough around the end of a stick and turn it over my fire til done. Even works in winter when there are no leaves available

  14. I remember going camping with my grandfather when I was around 8 years old and we made something similar. I believe he put raisins in ours though

  15. I forgot to add that I also have used it while my wife, who happens to be Seneca were camping in the Allegany Mountains of Western NY.

  16. In Australia, we shake grass seeds out of spinifex grass and grind it between stones to make flour.
    A little bit of muddy water is enough to make dough. We bury the dough in the ashes to cook. That’s the way it was done in Australia for 30 000 years.

  17. I guess in every culture and times they have used this method of cooking dough directly on fire. Here in india some sadhus cook their flour dough bread directly on fire.

  18. I grew up in the mountains of Montana and cooked in fire with various techniques. We always had a jar of sourdough starter for bread — do you know if it was used by those soldiers? I imagine you could take a rising dough with you even. We (then and now) made ash cake (plus potatoes…) but if we didn't have the dutch oven or skillet we did indeed use flat dry igneous stones (build a fire over them, scrape off the coals, plotz your food on them, cover with rushes or birch, build a layer of ash on top). Pasties work really well like this — round circle of dough, add whatever you've got (meat, forage, potatoes…) and fold over, pinch together . I've wanted to try the clay baking method again. Large beasties cook up really well in a deep fire pit. Mom always said "dirt and ashes don't hurt, it's just dirt", and "ashes are seasoning"; also if you have to drink melted snow for awhile, add some charcoal or clean soil to the boil.

  19. With these you could use them as a breakfast, lunch/dinner, or even a dessert depending on what you put with it

  20. how come you didn’t use a flat stone right on the coals? there are a couple around the fire – even those must be hot. makes sense, yeah? 🙂

  21. Funny how technologically advanced we have come when it comes to everything, including cooking, but there is still a great fascination for the old guard.

    I don't care to go to any of Gordon Ramsay restaurants but I'd love to try an ash cake.

  22. Why not set it on one of the rocks around the fire? Or put a low stone in the fire then you don't get ash on it?

    I guess then it would be hard to get the rock off the coals after.

  23. My first thought would have been to heat up one of the stones and then apply the dough for cooking. It seems much cleaner and more effective than the ashes and leaf method. I do not understand how anyone would be able to live, let alone fight with such horrible nutrition. It is a wonder to me that any of the wilderness even got settled and that anyone lived long enough to mature and have children.

  24. I've watched a few of your videos from your channel. I love the food videos but the "canoe building" video was incredible. I really like the "christmas collection" food videos. Keep up the great work. I have subscribed. Greetings and Respects from Canada.

  25. As a young scout. I would thread a sausage onto a stick and cook it over the fire. Then wrap some of this bread mix around the almost cooked sausage and cook it into a sausage roll. Salt in the mixture causes a drastic improvement to the taste.

  26. You only tasted one of them. All that, and the video ends before you taste and give commentary about the different methods. What's the deal?

  27. cook on top of a flat rock as well, or as close to a flat rock as u can find, set it in the fire and use it like an odd shaped pan.

  28. My family and I would do a fairy similar thing I New Zealand where we would make the dough much softer and wrap it around a stick, after cooking it over a fire we would stuff the cavity with butter and jam.

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