By The Maj.
Ok, I can cook and as with most men, I prefer to cook over a fire or grill. I actually enjoy doing so and I absolutely love campfire cooking. That said, I DO NOT bake, mainly because the conventional oven hates me and unlike cooking over heat, adding more heat tends to burn whatever you are cooking. So, I leave the baking to my wife who has more patience than I do and I stay out of her way. Yes, those of you thinking “Neanderthal or caveman” pretty much have me pegged when it comes to cooking. I have approached the need for bread post-SHTF in a manner that my grandfather taught me many years ago, which is the hoe cake – it is simple and fills a void relatively easily for a “caveman”.
I have gone without bread for extended periods of time and I can honestly say that I missed it. While hoe cakes might work to fill that void post-SHTF, think of the absolute treat having fresh baked bread would be in a post-SHTF world. My problem has always been the time, effort, and technical skill required to pull off making fresh baked bread with a conventional oven, much less attempting such a feat under austere conditions. Well, I received an “EZ DOH Manual Bread Dough Maker” the other day and I figured, if I can make bread with this thing, then pretty much anyone can. My wife laughed when I pulled it out of the box and announced my intentions to “make bread” – more on that later.
Pulling the EZ DOH out of the box, I admired the simplicity. It is simple, equipped with an HDPE (plastic) bucket and a crank assembly. That is it and that is a big plus in my book because I was half expecting all these different attachments or pieces. The crank assembly attaches to the bucket with two handle turn bolts, the crank handle can be removed from the crank assembly, which in turn removes the kneading rod. Right away, I could tell that it would be easy to clean, which was another plus in my book. The box also contained a comment card, pack of yeast, recipe booklet, and an illustrated information sheet that detailed the product as well as steps in the dough making process (almost the biggest plus for a caveman). The most surprising thing was the directions for making “easy French loaf” bread were also printed right there on the side of the bucket – so, even if I happen to lose the instruction booklets (raise your hand if you haven’t before), I still have the instructions to follow on the side.
I read through the directions on the side of the bucket and then read through the booklets that came with the EZ DOH. Naturally, the booklet had recipes and “how to’s” for dinner rolls, sweet rolls, pizza dough, and several other items. After digesting the material, I headed to the kitchen with the wife in tow (I think she was there more to watch me fall on my face than anything else). Reading the directions again, I gathered all of the necessary supplies and ingredients. I then went through, step by step adding all of the ingredients, stirring, turning the crank handle and looking at the pictures to make certain I was doing everything according to the directions. I removed the dough, greased the bucket and allowed the dough to rise, prepared the cooking sheet while I was waiting, and then baked the bread according to the directions on the bucket (even putting 3 slashes in the dough). Now, I will be the first to admit, my “French loaf forming skills” need some work, but I was absolutely successful on my very first attempt at “making bread” with very little effort.
Cleaning the EZ DOH was as simple as its construction and I prepared for round two. I had a pot of venison stew in the crock pot already and I had noticed the directions for making bread bowls in the booklet. So, the next attempt was centered around some modified instructions but met with success and some very nice bread for bread bowls all the same. By this point, the kids were wanting to try their hand with the EZ DOH and I had another thing I wanted to try with the dough anyway, so we cleaned up the EZ DOH and started all over again. However, this time, I moved outdoors to try my hand with “French bread” in the Dutch Oven, so I left the kids under the wife’s supervision with the EZ DOH while I prepared the fire pit for coals and Dutch Oven for baking bread. I was nervous as to what the outcome would be, but once the coals were right we put the bread to the test. Well, it worked (a little crustier on the bottom) but very edible and more uniform than my first “French loaf” attempt.
After we cleaned the EZ DOH up, we enjoyed the venison stew in the bread bowls we had made earlier and I even went back for seconds with some of the bread from the Dutch Oven. All said, EZ DOH helped provide a fun experience for the kids (their first time being involved with or seeing fresh baked bread at home) and my wife even used the EZ DOH to make “sticky rolls” the next morning for breakfast (I think she was jealous the kids and I had so much fun with it the day before). Of course, now the problem is explaining to the kids that we are not going to be making bread every day.
As a post-SHTF item, I can see plenty of uses for the “EZ DOH Manual Bread Dough Maker”. Since it does not require electricity, it is an ideal setup for making dough when the power goes out. The simplicity of the design means that it is easily cleaned with soap and water and there is not a lot to break on the design. About the only possible (emphasis on possible) drawback to the design is the durability of the bucket, since it is made out of plastic but I really do not see it as being a major issue. If you have wondered what you are going to do with all of that wheat you have stored for post-SHTF, the EZ DOH might just be a tool that you could benefit from having in your supplies. Bread post-SHTF will definitely be a comfort item to enjoy with a meal, but fresh baked bread can make a pretty handy barter item as well.