Last night, our troop tried baking outdoors for the first time. While we’ve previously used a traditional “Dutch Oven” for pineapple upside-down cakes, etc. we’ve never tried the cardboard box oven approach.
For baked goods such as muffins, cookies and brownies, the cardboard box oven simulates the oven you use at home more faithfully and easily than working with a cast iron dutch oven.
This year, at summer camp, our scouts will be challenged to a cookie bake-off. We all agreed that it made sense to practice before heading to Camp Somers!
The process of building a cardboard box oven starts, naturally, with selecting a box that is durable, and a good size. Too large, and the oven will not hold enough heat to cook evenly. Too small, and it will be difficult to process large batches in a timely fashion before the charcoal needs to be replaced.
Next, the inside surfaces of the box need to be lined with either heavy duty aluminum foil or two layers of “standard” aluminum foil. The shiny side must face into the box cavity to reflect heat back into the oven.
There were three different designs presented at the meeting. One was beautifully crafted with a grill rack and neat presentation. Two were created from cases used to hold photocopier paper (inverted so that the lid became the base) and one was also a lidded, but smaller box.
Using a stovepipe charger to light the charcoal enabled a quick start without any lighter fluid. We calculated the number of bricks we needed based on 30-40 degrees per brick, and dividing into the target temperature based on the recipe.
Some teams pre-heated their ovens, and others simply added the coals, baking trays and closed up the boxes.
At one point, due to mis-communication, scouts double-charged their oven with 24 bricks instead of the 12 actually needed. Wisps of smoke were the first sign that we were now baking the oven instead of just the cookies. Ultimately, the oven burst into flame causing the scouts to cheer the sight, mourn the loss of a batch of cookies and have the parents circle around — each angling for the best photo of the “disaster”!
All in all, we made two batches of oatmeal raisin cookies and a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Most importantly, we’re better prepared for the summer camp bake-off. Now it’s time to fine-tune the box ovens prior to heading to camp.
Special thanks to the parents who provided encouragement and support to the scouts. Especially Mrs. Ruiz for the technical support on dough mixing and Mr. Tarantino for the coffee!
Next meeting is Monday, June 25th to get last minute prep done for camp, and to help some scouts finish up some advancement projects.
Congratulations to Alex T. for completing First Class tonight, too!