I have always loved to cook, but baking seemed intimidating. In 2021, I became a quarantine baker. I soon collected a pile of books on baking, but there are only a few books I fell in love. This recipe is from one of those books. It is Everyone Can Bake: Simple Recipes to Master and Mix by Dominique Ansel. I enjoy his approach by breaking down to bases, fillings, finishes, assembly and techniques. The book offers suggestions on how to mix all the components together. I made this brownie in a conventional oven before, and I felt confident enough to bake over fire with a cast iron Dutch oven. If I burn it, my husband will still demolish it because he loves brownies.

How to translate baking in the oven to baking over fire?

First, we need to understand how baking works in the oven. There are two heating units in the oven, top and bottom. They heat up the air trapped inside the oven, and there is a fan circulating the hot air for even cooking. The hot air heats up the bakeware, which then bakes the food. The top of the food is cooked with the hot air circulating on top of it.

The two heating units will be replaced by coals on top and bottom of the cast iron Dutch oven. The cast iron Dutch oven becomes both the bakeware and the oven. Therefore, I need to adjust the distance between the coal and the Dutch oven to prevent burning. It is helpful to turn the Dutch oven every 15 minutes for even cooking and add new coal every 15 minutes to maintain heat.

How to prevent burning baked goods in the Dutch oven?

  1. Add a few layers of tin foil, then a layer of parchment inside the Dutch oven.
  2. Elevate the Dutch oven higher from the coal on the bottom.
  3. Add a trivet inside the Dutch oven.
  4. Place an unglazed quarry tile under the Dutch oven as a barrier from the coal.

Brownies Over Fire

Recipe by Jackie LokCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Servings

16

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes

Ingredients

  • 150 grams or 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 300 grams or 1 ½ cups granulated sugar

  • 135 grams or 3 large eggs

  • 70 grams or ½ cup and 4 teaspoons cocoa powder

  • 3 grams or ½ teaspoon salt

  • 4 grams or 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 115 grams or 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 225 grams or 1⅓ cup dark chocolate chips

  • EQUIPMENT
  • 5 quart cast iron Dutch oven

  • Tin foil

  • Parchment paper

Directions

  • Cut out 2 circles of tin foil and place them on the bottom of the Dutch oven. Cut out a piece of parchment paper to fit inside the Dutch oven.
  • Combine the butter and 100 grams (½ cup) of the sugar in a medium skillet. Heat over medium heat, stirring slowly, until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted completely.
  • Whisk together the eggs and 200 grams (1 cup) sugar until smooth.
  • Pour the sugar-butter mixture into the egg-sugar mixture and whisk to combine. Sift the cocoa powder and flour. Add the sifted cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and sifted flour and whisk to combine.
  • Add the chocolate chips and fold them in with a spatula until incorporated.
  • Pour the batter into the parchment lined Dutch oven. Smooth out the surface with a spatula.
  • Place the hot coal about 4 inches away from the bottom of the Dutch oven. Add a layer of coal on top of the Dutch oven.
  • Rotate the Dutch oven and add more hot coal on top and bottom every 15 minutes. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Brownies are ready when the skewer comes out clean from the center or when there are a few cracks on the surface of the brownies.
  • Remove the Dutch oven from the coal. Allow it to cool and unmold by lifting the parchment paper. Cut them into pieces and serve. Great with a cup of hot milk.

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