Sweet Treats for River Runners

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Sweet Treats for River Runners
River trips offer a luxurious approach to wilderness camping. Because weight, up to a point, is not a major consideration, it's possible to carry the ingredients for gourmet meals that enhance everyone's enjoyment of the experience. And desserts, those tasty extra items that are too often forgotten, are especially tasty after a hard day of paddling.

Many of the recipes that follow were invented on one of the numerous rivers in this country: hence the names, taken from those wonderful rivers, side canyons, and beaches that endear themselves to any of us who relish floating down a torrent of moving water.

Laura's Carob-Sesame Balls

Yield: twenty-four 1-inch balls
Preparation time: 1 hour

Butter 1/2 cup
Honey 2 tablespoons
Vanilla 1/2 teaspoon
Carob powder 1/2 cup
Milk powder 1/2 cup
Sesame seeds 1 cup

Blend butter and honey until creamy. Add vanilla. Combine carob and milk powders. Add to butter mixture. Add sesame seeds and mix well. Shape into teaspoon-size balls. Place in cooler 1/2 hour or more.

Variety Sweet Loaf

Yield: 8-inch round loaf
Preparation time: 1 1/2 hours

This loaf lives up to its name by providing a good variety of cakes and breads, all using the same basic ingredients. It is ideal for extended river trips, since the main ingredients can be purchased in bulk and then mixed into different batters once on the river. On short trips, the dry ingredients can be combined ahead of time and carried in a plastic container to save space. In any of its forms it will satisfy a sweet tooth without using sugar and provide some valuable protein.

Whole wheat flour 2 cups
Baking powder 2 teaspoons
Baking soda 1 teaspoon
Milk powder 1/3 cup
Salt 1 teaspoon
Oil 2 tablespoons
Eggs 2
Vanilla 1 teaspoon
Honey 1/2 cup
Desired filling (see individual variations)
Water 1 cup (or less)

Sift flour through a strainer for a lighter, less grainy loaf. Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Add oil, eggs, vanilla, honey, and filling directly to dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Slowly stir in water, adding only enough to moisten batter. It should not be too runny, or the cake will fall apart when done. Pour into a heated, well-seasoned 8-inch Dutch oven. Bake 1 1/4 hours with 4 briquets underneath and 9 on top for a medium oven.

Variations: For a sweeter, lighter loaf use whole wheat pastry flour in place of regular flour and increase the amount of honey to 3/4 cup.

For banana bread, add 2 or 3 very ripe bananas as filling and bake as directed.

For pineapple upside-down cake, use pastry flour in place of regular flour and add an 8-ounce can of pineapple rings to the list of ingredients; layer pineapple rings on bottom of Dutch oven and pour batter over them; when serving, turn cake bottom-side up.

For date-nut bread, add 1 cup each of chopped pitted dates and walnuts plus 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to recipe; allow to cool and serve with a cream cheese topping.

For fruit or berry cake, bake Variety Sweet Loaf plain and serve with a topping of either fresh or canned fruit or berries and whipped cream or sour cream.

Janet's Ukonom Creek Cake

Yield: 8-inch round loaf
Preparation time: 1 1/2 hours

The last night of a river trip can sometimes be either feast or famine, depending on how food has been planned and used. At our final camp along the Klamath River, Janet created this rich, delicious cake out of leftovers.

Chocolate cake mix 1 box
Eggs as mix calls for
Brandy (optional) 2 tablespoons
Water as mix calls for
Peaches 6 medium
Heavy cream 1/2 pint

Combine cake mix with eggs, brandy, and half the amount of water called for on the package. Slice peaches and place in bottom of a heated, well-seasoned 8-inch Dutch oven. Pour batter over peaches. Bake 1 1/4 hours with 4 briquets underneath and 9 on top for a medium oven. Serve with cream, either whipped or plain.

Wolf River Yogurt Cake

Yield: 8-inch round loaf
Preparation time: 1 hour and 10 minutes

Narrow and rocky, the Woy River in northeastern Wisconsin has challenging drops interspersed with stretches of quiet water. When you are not concentrating on one of the many rapids, you can take in the wild, rugged scenery and fish for rainbow, brown, and brook trout.

Cafix, Postum, or Pero 3 tablespoons
Hot water 1/4 cup
Whole wheat pastry flour 2 cups
Baking powder 1 teaspoon
Baking soda 1/2 teaspoon
Salt 1/4 teaspoon
Butter or margarine 1/2 cup
Honey 3/4 cup
Egg 1
Vanilla 1 teaspoon
Plain yogurt 1 cup

Mix Cafix with hot water and set aside. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in bowl. Soften butter and honey and stir into dry ingredients along with egg, vanilla, and yogurt. Stir in beverage mixture. Pour into a heated, well-oiled 8-inch Dutch oven. Bake 50 minutes with 4 briquets underneath and 9 on top for a medium oven. Serve.

Variation: If you're a coffee lover, use instant coffee in place of cereal beverage, mixing at the same strength.

Peshtigo Cheesecake

Serves 8
Preparation time: 30 minutes

The Peshtigo River in northeastern Wisconsin has two runnable sections and some of the best whitewater in the state. The upper section, through the Nicolet National Forest, includes numerous mild rapids. The lower part, known as the Roaring Rapids Section, plunges over one drop after another for its entire four-mile length.

Graham crackers 2/3 pound
Butter or margarine 1/4 pound, melted
Cream cheese three 8-ounce packages
Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk 16-ounce can
Lemon 1
Nutmeg and cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon each
Pitted sweet cherries 15-ounce can

Crush graham crackers by placing them in a plastic bag and mashing them with a jar, wooden spoon, or other blunt object. Place crumbs in a pie tin, Dutch oven, or large pan. Mix with melted butter to form crust. Combine cream cheese with half of the sweetened condensed milk (save the rest for coffee or tea), juice and pulp of lemon, and spices. Beat with a wire whip until fluffy. Spread over crust. Arrange cherries on top. Chill in a cooler or carefully place bottom of container in cold water. Serve.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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