Ash cakes are small muffin or corn bread-like patties that you cook directly on the coals of a fire. They are the simplest way to “bake” on a campfire because they require neither an oven nor a pan. Once they are finished baking, dust of the ashes and try it!
My boys love mixing up their own batter combinations. My youngest used molasses, my oldest used dried peaches and raisins! I have more ideas for add-ins in the recipe at the bottom of this post!
Making ash cakes on a cold day can keep kids busy for a long time! From making the campfire, mixing the ingredients, baking, and finally eating! It is the perfect wildschool or forest school activity!
- ingredients for recipe dough
- wood fire with coal bed
- leather or heatproof glove or tongs to flip the cakes
You will need to start the fire well in advance of when you want to make the ash cakes. Baking ash cakes require hot coals that have cooled slightly and have a white ash color/covering over the top.
Start a fire one to two hours in advance. You will need a nice coal bed to cook the ash cakes directly on.
Add water to your mix or the DIY mix recipe provided below. If using the DIY recipe this will be about a half cup of water. Add small amounts of water until the dough forms a ball. You do not want the dough to be sticky. You want to be able to make a nice round doughball similar to the consistency of playdough.
Form the dough into small balls that are about two inches in diameter.
Gently press the balls into a flat circle shape. Smaller patties about one-inch thick cook best.
Lay the bread patties directly onto the coals. Coals should be hot, but not red hot. They should be the color of white ash over the top, but still radiating heat. Gray ash is not very hot, but white ash is.
Watch them closely and flip after a few minutes or when the bottoms look browned.
Take the patties off the coals after a few more minutes. Dust off any extra ash. It is ok if there is some as on the cake.
It is possible to cook these on fires that are not as hot. I know this because my children often cannot wait and start experiementing! It just takes more checking and turning etc.
My own children also enjoy making small “ovens” under the logs and placing the patties inside them to bake. Watch cakes carefully because they may cook unevenly and need to be flipped or turned. It can also be fun to experiment with cooking them in different locations to see which is best.
Ash cake recipe
Makes approximately 8 ash cakes
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2 T butter or oil
½ cup water
For puffier cakes add 1.5 tsp baking powder
Dried fruit, nuts, peanut butter, or chocolate chips.
For sweeter cakes add a few tablespoons of sugar, honey, or molasses.
It can also be fun to experiment with different flours too!
Need more instructions? Here is an excellent video from Bob Hansler explaining the process called “Ash Cakes- Primitive Bread Baking”:
I hope you enjoy this activity as much as we do! This ash cake recipe is from in the upcoming Wild Reading Level 2 curriculum coming out in June 2022!
Our curriculums aim to make it easier for you to spend time outdoors with your children while covering grade-level academic skills at the same time!