Introducing the Outback Oven [79]

by David Fisher

Sometimes powdered mash potato and cold baked beans doesn’t cut it on a kayak camping trip. Sometimes, on short trips where space isn’t so much of an issue, you have the option of going gourmet. Now for some, gourmet means bringing a bottle of red. Others will bring cheese and crackers. Both are good options but I’d like to introduce a new(ish) tool in the gourmet cooker’s armoury, the Outback Oven (OO).

The OO is a 10 inch Teflon-coated pan with a snug aluminium lid and an insulating fabric surround. This all sits on top on your gas burner. There is a heat diffuser in between to prevent scorching. It is recommended to use a remote canister stove rather than a sit-on-top system which can suffer from downward reflected heat pressurising the gas canister. Also, a burner with a large round head with an excellent simmer controller is highly desirable. The OO also comes with a thermometer to help control the heat and aluminium heat shields.

If you are wondering what it can do, just think of your normal oven and you’re on track. Many of you have seen the OO at work.

My most successful output has included:

Garlic bread bought from the local supermarket comes in all shapes and sizes, most of them long. I found a short one that fits the OO and it worked a treat.

Bread rolls made from Laucke dry ingredients meant for a bread maker worked fine too. A little time was spent kneading the dough and proving it and then I baked it off in two batches. The first was half the loaf cut into three rolls (each a decent bread roll on their own); the second was the other half in one big bread roll. Both batches turned out fine. The three smaller rolls had some egg wash to make them go brown on top.

Roast lamb was a worthy challenge. I baked a couple of delicious 400 g mini roasts for 45 minutes while the potatoes, carrots and snow peas and the gravy were prepared. Although shared with Training Coordinator John Piotrowski, there were plenty of eager and hungry kayakers on that trip who also experienced this unique camp meal.

Triple choc muffins made from a packet mix bought at the local supermarket. Just add milk, an egg and a splash of oil to the packet mix and mix the ingredients well, put into the moulds and bake. It is pretty easy, tastes great and the clean up is easy too.

Other goodies I’ve also tried are cupcakes from packet mixes and baked pasta. The cupcakes were passable but not great as the paper cases were too flimsy and so they flattened out too much and tasted a bit cardboardy. I’ve not tried again as the muffins seemed to work well. The baked pasta was OK but it was too much volume (nearly killed me trying to eat it all) and took too long to bake.

Overall, the Outback Oven is a useful tool for those not counting every last gram that goes into their kayak and who enjoy a treat.