Dutch oven cooking and baking at the campground isn't as simple as it may seem, but with the right tools and accessories your camping meals should be easy to prepare and most likely will taste better outdoors and under the stars.
These 15 essential items for dutch oven baking are recommended by the Mad Chef of the Forest, a dutch oven chef with more than 40 years campground cooking experience.
ShovelAll you need for dutch oven cooking is a small shovel, but a shovel with a longer handle is easy on the back. A U.S. Forest Service ladies fire fighter shovel is recommended.
Lid Lifter ToolThe lid lifter, or "gonch hook" in cowboy vernacular, enables you to remove the dutch oven's lid while it is full of coals without dumping any of the coals into the food below. This tool has small legs to stabilize the lid from tipping side to side and is sold in specialty cowboy or saddle shops.
TongsTongs are an all-around item for camp cooking. Tongs are essential for turning meats and vegetables on the grill, and for grabbing anything that is hot.
RackA clean rack is essential for placing the dutch oven lid on, in order to keep it clean. Cabella's and other camping supply stores sell this item.
Baking PansBaking pans keep your dutch oven clean. Deep baking pans that are 3-inches deep and round are the best to for dutch oven baking so you get the optimum volume out of your oven.
Beach Pebbles or a Metal RackUse beach pebbles or a rack so that you can center the baking pan in the oven to facilitate even heating, just like in a conventional oven. If you choose to use beach pebbles make sure you have four ¾-inch dried pebbles. And if you choose to use a rack, select an 8-inch diameter metal rack.
2 Pairs of Leather GlovesKeep one pair of leather gloves clean for handling hot food items like baked potatoes and for other food handling like husking barbecued corn. The second pair for is for dirty, sooty jobs like handling the exterior of the dutch oven and other dutch oven tools.
2 Oven MittsOven mitts are great for many campground-cooking needs, but are also essential for the bail of the dutch oven and for removing baking pans from the oven.
Flexible Putty KnifeThe flexible putty knife is used for scraping the bottom of the oven without scratching the iron. A putty knife that is 3-inches wide is recommended. Food should not stick badly if the oven is well seasoned, but if you need to scrape the oven clean, use the putty knife. Do not use a stiff wire brush because it will scratch your dutch oven.
Paper TowelsPaper towels are nice to have around camp for many reasons and they can be easily disposed of in the campfire. One way to clean a dutch oven is to heat it on the fire until the food starts blistering and lifting up from the iron. At that time, scrape the oven with a putty knife, dump out the burnt food, and wipe with an oiled paper towel.