Thursday, November 1, 2012

Superstorm Sandy: Baking on the stovetop

When Hurricane Sandy roared far inland Oct. 30-31 and stalled over West Virginia, mine was one of the 275,000 households robbed of electricity. Fortunately, we were only without power for 36 hours. There are still people in my community who have yet to get power restored. I was pretty well prepared for the storm as far as food.

Here is one way we were resourceful: We baked frozen biscuit dough in a dutch oven on our stove top.

I noticed that the package of frozen biscuits I had in the freezer were thawing. We have a gas stove with electric ignition. That means we could light the burners with a match or lighter. But we couldn't light the oven. Well, we COULD but once it reached temperature, it would shut off. So baking was out of the question.

We put our cast-iron dutch oven on the stovetop, turned a pie pan upside down to hold the biscuits and turned on the flame. You don't want the biscuits or whatever you're baking to be in direct contact with the bottom of the dutch oven or it will scorch. You want to simulate an oven with hot air circulating. It took about 22 minutes (the average time it would in the oven) for the biscuits to get done. They cooked, they browned a little, and hey, we didn't have to throw out perfectly good food.

Note: Our first attempt -- you can fit about 6 biscuits at a time -- we added water to the bottom of the dutch oven. This is not necessary and in fact, gave the biscuit tops a weird, chewy appearance and caused the bottoms to burn.

Inspired by my post about biscuits, a friend who is still without electricity baked a pumpkin pie in a dutch oven on her wood stove. She made it crustless, meaning she baked only the custard filling. She said it worked and it was good!  She did not add water as you would with a creme brulee.

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