A Different Take on the Dutch Oven Apple Cobbler: Using a Regular Pot and Adding A Secret Ingredient
Have you ever been addicted to the sweet tangy taste of an apple pie combined with a crispy melt-in-your-mouth crust, warming your insides on a chilly fall night? That’s what the Dutch oven apple cobbler tastes like.
Traditionally, it is a fall recipe that is served steaming hot from the oven as meal desserts. It became a famous camping dessert because it’s one of the few desserts you can cook on site.
Now before we proceed on making a different Dutch oven Apple Cobbler, I’ll share some information about the Dutch oven and the apple cobbler first with you guys.
What Is A Dutch Oven
You may be thinking of a large compartment we have in our kitchen upon hearing the word “oven”. But sadly, you’re mistaken.
A Dutch oven is a large, arm-breaking pot that is used to cook food in an oven. If you don’t have an oven, a stovetop or a gas stove can be used too. Perhaps a fireplace can be good too, but it may look ridiculous to cook there.
A Dutch oven is typically made up of cast-iron or enameled ones. They are extremely durable and are mostly used for fall recipes such as soups, braises, dishes, and pies. Using this specific type of oven produces a crispy, melt-in-your-mouth crust that’s why it’s a favorite cookware of pastry chefs.
The Dutch oven traces its history back to the 17th century when Dutch settlers came to America. They used the first Dutch ovens to preserve any fruit they can get their hands on to preserve it. Fruits were sliced and filled with flour, and other pantry staples for the dough then cooked to a crisp in the oven.
In this post, I’ll teach you how to make a mouth-watering apple cobbler using a Dutch oven or any regular pots. Any lightweight pot with a lid will do. Campers like us are accustomed to bringing lightweight things.
It’ll be hard to add a few pounds of cookware weight to our rucksack because it’ll break our backs. Can you imagine walking and climbing trails (and getting lost in the process), with a heavy Dutch oven strapped on your back? That doesn’t look good to me.
Advantage Of Using A Dutch Oven
Cast iron pots are used by our ancestors since the olden times. They are made of iron (obviously), and they’re heavy. But they’re very versatile. You can make a lot dishes in it – casseroles, braises, soups, broiled food, and desserts.
But then again, any kitchen pots with a functional lid will do. Why purchase one if you cook it in your favorite pot?
A Favorite Camping Dessert: Apple Cobbler
Apple cobbler is a pretty famous camping dessert. What makes it an excellent camping dessert?
- Easy to prepare (few ingredients needed)
- It won’t spoil that fast
- It’s delicious even when it’s cold!
- Kids love it
- It’s nutritious – yeah, apples
The secret ingredient: Chinese five-spice powder
The Chinese five-spice powder is sweet-tasting aromatic spice typically used for meat dishes, pastries, cocktails, and a wide range of foods. It’s a mix tropical spices such as star anise, cloves, cassia, fennel, and Sichuan peppercorns (a widely used ingredient in Chinese dishes).
The ingredients give off a balance of flavors- sweet, strong, and salty. It enhances the taste of any dish or pastries without overwhelming it. It will surely guarantee a mouth sensation!
I've made this apple cobbler recipe a long time ago when I was at the peak of my camping expeditions. I hope I can still remember right all of the ingredients and proportions.
If you’re making the dessert for a camping night, you can prepare the batter/cake mix beforehand and cook it on the campsite or cook one at home and just bring it over.
What You Will Need
Serving size: 8-10 people
- Dutch oven/ any pot with a lid
- Mixing Bowl
- Thin-sliced apples (about 5 cups)
- 2 tbsp. Vegetable oil
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup corn starch/ flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 4 sticks butter / 4 tbsp. melted butter
- 1 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
- 1 tsp. Vanilla extract (optional)
- 2 tsp. lemon extract (optional)
If you'll cook it on the campsite, you'll need:
- Charcoal (about 30 coals – 20 on top and 10 on the bottom)
- Metal Grid(like the one used for grilling)
- Tongs (for coals)
Peel and cut the apples vertically into thin slices. Not super thin though.
Get a mixing bowl and pour the cornstarch/flour, brown sugar, salt (if the butter is unsalted), melted butter, cinnamon, lemon extract, vanilla extract, and Chinese five-spice powder.
Mix them with a whisk or spoon until you can’t see any distinct ingredients or until it rolls up to a cookie dough. Make sure that there are no brown sugar lumps left!
Get the Dutch oven (or any pot that has a lid) and rub its sides and bottom with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Place the sliced apples. Sprinkle a few brown sugar, cinnamon, and lemon extract on top of the sliced apples, coating them.
Cover the oven/pot with its lid.
Get a handful of dough and roll it into small pieces. Break the pieces off as you scatter them on top of the apples, covering them evenly. DO NOT press the dough flat on the apple layer.
Rolling the dough into small pieces, breaking them off, and scattering them evenly without pressing is a baking style I learned from my mom. You won’t need to press the mixture down because it will naturally melt and settle at the top of the apple layer. This is the key to getting those crispy crusts and crumbles!
Preheat the kitchen oven up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’ll use coals, heat 30 pieces on top of the campfire until it burns.
You can set the Dutch oven/pot in 2 ways: inside the preheated kitchen oven or on top of a metal grid under a ring of heated coals.
Also, you’ll need to place 10 coals on the bottom of the grid, and 20 on top of the Dutch oven/pot. The heat generated from the coals is equal to 400 degrees Fahrenheit – almost the same as using the oven. Cover your hands with a glove and use tongs to scatter the coals around on the top and bottom of the oven/pot.
Bake the apple cobbler in the kitchen oven for 40-50 minutes until the top appears golden brown. Likewise, set the oven/pot on the grid for about 20-30 minutes until golden brown.
Be careful in opening the lid as you might drop the coals inside the oven/pan. Remove the coals first with a tong before removing the lid.
If the cobbler appears golden brown, remove the oven/pot from the kitchen oven or grid. Open the lid to cool the cobbler down a little.
Now that dessert’s ready, gather your fellow campers and eat your hearts out. You see, you really don’t need to bring a Dutch oven with you just to cook an apple cobbler.
A Dutch oven is super heavy and inconvenient to bring. Thus, a regular lightweight pot with a lid is a smarter choice. You can cook the cobbler at home using a Dutch oven or at the campsite using the regular pot and hot coals.
Also, do not forget these two things: Add a Chinese five-spice powder to the batter and never press the dough pieces against the apple layer.
I hope you enjoy the crispy crumbles!
How about you? Have you tried adding a Chinese five-spice powder to your cobbler or any dish? Isn’t it marvelous? Also, what are your thoughts about baking the cobbler in a regular pot? Comment below!
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