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Gear Workshop The Gear Workshop forum is for the discussion of homemade backpacking gear, gear modifications, and repairs.


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  #1  
Old 04-07-2012, 03:09 PM
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Wilder Wilder is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Oregon
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When I was told to make a backpack oven, I searched the net, finding a few manufactured ones. They all had the same problem: how to control the temperature. My experiments with an empty 1-quart alcohol can and propane stove resulted in wide temperature swings while trying to hold 350F. Then came a flash of insight--the baking is done when the water is gone. A test run with the thermometer stuck in the biscuit mixture verified this.

So, here's my oven.

One medium can--4 inches wide, almost 5 inches tall. I found one with a pull tab. Take the top off with the can opener that separates the top from the can. Drill a hole in the lid just big enough to allow the thermometer probe to slide in. Attach wire to the pull tab to function as a handle.

Make an oven rack. I cut two squares out of the alcohol can bottom, 2.5 inches on a side. A hole in each corner. Three skinny bolts, each 4 inches long. One skinny bolt 1.25 inches long. I originally used hex nuts, but found wing nuts to be worth the extra weight when assembling and disassembling for packing in a snack baggie.

To make a biscuit, put the goop-to-be-baked in the silicone cup, put the cup on the top rack, put the rack in the can, put the lid on the can, slide the thermometer through the hole and into the goop. Finally, put the can on the heat. Watch the thermometer. Remove the can from the heat when the thermometer reads a degree or two below water boiling temperature. For example, if you're at 1000 feet, you're done when it reads 209F. A few runs will nail the temperature for your desired moistness.

Alternately, you can evoke giggles from your friends by using the little oven probe thingie. It will beep when the desired temperature is reached.

I also have used an origami box made from parchment as the baking pan. I'll be glad to share that if anyone is interested.

Now, can I figure out how to attach the photos? Looks like I have to post it to find out. Here goes.....
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  #2  
Old 04-12-2012, 10:43 AM
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Wilder Wilder is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Oregon
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I should have mentioned that the timer in picture 4 above is not part of the setup.

Also, the can is used to heat water and make popcorn.
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  #3  
Old 04-14-2012, 12:13 AM
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GGervin GGervin is offline
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Backpack: Gregory Shasta, Deuter ACT Lite 65+10
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A real interesting idea. I like the multi-use aspect of the oven/can. What does your set-up weigh? Also I'm curious to know if you've ever tried it over a campfire, or whether you think it would be too hard to control baking temperature that way?

I definitely think you should show us your origami baking pan.
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  #4  
Old 04-14-2012, 02:58 PM
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Wilder Wilder is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2008
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The can and lid = 96g = 3.4oz.

The oven rack = 59g = 2.0oz.

The thermometer = 8.5g = 0.3oz.

The rack is the first one I made to test the idea. It could be much lighter.

The cute little oven probe thermometer = 57.5g = 2.0oz, including the AAA battery. I wonder if they make one that uses a coin cell. I suppose it's a silly thing to backpack, but it's so fun to push it in the hole, then start telling a story, hear the beeps, and say "Oh, our biscuit is done".

The silicone biscuit form = 22g = 0.77oz.

A parchment pan = 0.8g = 0.03oz, but you can't use the same one very many times.

This oven came about from the desire to avoid controlling the temperature. It works kinda like a rice cooker. When the water has gone away, the temperature of the payload can rise above boiling and the payload can begin to overcook. So I remove the oven from the heat at 1F below boiling, since that yields a pretty good done-vs-moist result.


For example, I live at 1500 feet elev. The water boils at 209F. So I cut it off at 208F. Someone else might like 2F below boiling.

This method also frees me from having to measure mix and water. Pretty much any slurry will work out fine.

Last summer, doctors were vying for my time, so I did a lot of car camping between visits--couldn't work in my normal 7-day backpack trips. I used the oven at various altitudes always on a wood fire (sitting on coals) or on my latest woodgas stove using pellets as fuel. Worked every time.

If I wanted to make something like single layer cakes, I'd probably get one of those gift cans at Big Lots or Dollar store. And a wider rack, of course.

I had originally intended to make two biscuits per run, but I found that to require a taller oven. In retrospect, I suspect the rack bottom sheet shields the bottom of the biscuit from direct heat, which I'm guessing is a good thing.

I'll be back in a while to detail the parchment paper pan.

Any comments, suggestions or zots are welcome.
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  #5  
Old 04-16-2012, 12:40 PM
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Wilder Wilder is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Oregon
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The parchment paper baking pan is made as follows...

I have a template (4.5x5.5 inches) cut from a manila envelope. It is notated with named tick marks. The tick marks represent fold lines. For example, the first fold is made on the line that connects the two As.

Pan 01.JPG

Lay the template on parchment paper and trace around it, copy the tick marks, and cut it out.

Pan 02.JPG

Fold at A. Fold at B. Then flatten it back out.

Pan 03.JPG

Fold at C.

Pan 04.JPG

Fold the corners over so that the edges are on the seams of the A and B folds.

Pan 05.JPG

Fold the flap over the corners.

Pan 06.JPG

Repeat the previous 3 folds starting at D.

Pan 07.JPG

Put your fingers where the quarter used to be, and push the box open.

Pan 08.JPG

Pinch all edges to firm it up. And it's ready to use.

Pan 09.JPG

By using a differently sized template, you can make a box of any dimension you want. I'll show that if anyone expresses interest.
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  #6  
Old 05-02-2012, 04:08 PM
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beekeeper beekeeper is offline
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That is a cool oven. I have used a packbaker which really steams the object and cannot brown it. Does this oven brown the biscuit top?
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  #7  
Old 05-02-2012, 06:00 PM
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Wilder Wilder is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beekeeper
That is a cool oven. I have used a packbaker which really steams the object and cannot brown it. Does this oven brown the biscuit top?

Thanks for asking. I modified the oven rack awhile ago and needed to adjust the height of the top shelf. Unfortunately, I forgot to do it before making the following muffin.

So I looked around the house and found some generic muffin mix. I put some mix into a parchment paper pan and added enough water to make a slurry. Nothing precise here--the thermometer makes up for sloppy proportions.

Here it is, sitting on the rack.

01 Muffin Mix.JPG

Drop the rack into the oven.

02 In the Oven.JPG

Put the lid w/thermometer on the oven.

03 Ready for Heat.JPG

I used the Primus isobp stove running at a low flame. After about 6 minutes, the thermometer said "208F", 1 degree below boiling at my house. Turn off the stove, open the oven.

04 Done.JPG

Not quite as brown as I expected. Oh yeah, forgot to adjust the rack height. A little higher would result in a little browner on top and a little lighter on the bottom. Next time. Also I ate the muffin before I realized the picture was out of focus. Sorry.

Anyway, fluffy inside.

05 Fluffy.JPG

BTW, if you want a packbaker style muffin, put some little water in the oven.
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  #8  
Old 05-03-2012, 11:46 AM
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dsuursoo dsuursoo is offline
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i've been watching this and i have to say, this is one of the cleverest ideas i've seen in a while. pure hot-air baker, light enough to pack.. beats my reflector ideas, that's for sure.

i may just have to try this out.
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  #9  
Old 05-03-2012, 12:37 PM
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Wilder Wilder is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Oregon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsuursoo
i may just have to try this out.

Oh, please do it. With that equipment at your disposal, I bet you could make a dynamite rack.
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  #10  
Old 06-24-2013, 03:16 AM
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Beanie Beanie is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2012
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I have used two silicon muffin cases for this, one with the gloop in and the other inverted as a stand. My attempt used steam to bake, so no browning at all.
If the silicon case will take the temprature it will make a much lighter and more packable solution to the grid.
I think as I have a bit of time on my hands I will have to try this without the water.
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