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Camp Stove Cooking: Homemade Pizza

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Julia Barton makes homemade pizza on an MSR Whisperlite camp stove in the Wyoming backcountry, circa 2016. PHOTO COURTESY OF JULIA BARTON

By Julia Barton DIGITAL PRODUCER

During the summer of 2016 I embarked on a month-long backpacking and climbing trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains with NOLS, a nonprofit wilderness education program. We carried mostly raw ingredients with us—flour, sugar, butter and grains–meaning we were cooking from scratch most nights on the camp stove. During that time, I learned how to make homemade pizza, a meal that feels extra gourmet when eaten on a remote mountain top, far from traditional kitchen amenities. 

Making dough, especially outdoors, can be intimidating, but I assure you that it’s not as significant of an undertaking as it seems. If you’re car camping, you could even buy pre-made dough and bring it out with you. Either way, this pizza is sure to hit the spot after a long day outside.

I do most of my backcountry cooking based on approximations, and the measurements below don’t need to be exact—ratios and texture are the most important components for the dough. I recommend making the dough in the morning and carrying it with you as you hike during the day or making it on a day when you get to camp fairly early in the afternoon, so the dough has time to rise. 

Depending on the size of your pan, this recipe will make two to three pizzas.

For the crust you’ll need: 

  • 1 teaspoon dry yeast
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pound flour

This is what I use for toppings, but feel free to get creative here:

  • Dried tomato paste
  • Dried onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cheese
  • Summer sausage

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the yeast in some warm water and let the yeast bloom for a few minutes before mixing in the salt and sugar. The mixture should foam up a bit, at which point you can begin adding in flour. 
  2. I usually add flour in a plastic bag as it can be a messy process. (Depending on the type of flour you use, the elevation and humidity, the measurements may change a bit. Focus on hydrating the flour just enough for it to come together.)
  3. Let this rest for a while to rise.
  4. Once the dough has risen and is ready, heat your pan on the camp stove with a bit of oil or butter and squish your dough so it covers the entire surface of the pan—cover and let cook until the bottom starts to brown and flip. 
  5. Add on your toppings (don’t forget to re-hydrate the tomato paste first!) and cover so the cheese melts. 
  6. Rotate the pizza as you go to make sure it cooks evenly and enjoy!

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