Being on a canoe trip for your birthday is a treat in itself. Make it even more special with a camp-stove friendly birthday cake. More akin to a fudge brownie—and less reliant on food science for success—this backcountry birthday cake recipe is just as festive as a classic bonne fete cake when decorated with icing and candy.

Backcountry Birthday Cake Recipe

Prep at Home

  • ¼ cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) vanilla sugar or granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) powdered eggs
  • ¼ tsp (1 mL) baking powder
  • ⅛ tsp (0.5 mL) salt
  • ⅓ cup (75 mL) icing sugar
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) chocolate chips (optional)
  • Coloured sprinkles or candy (optional)
  • Parchment paper and foil

In a sealable plastic bag, combine flour, vanilla sugar, cocoa, powdered eggs, baking powder and salt. Seal and store at room temperature for up to one month.

[ Paddling Buyer’s Guide: See all camp kitchen accessories ]

Pack icing sugar, chocolate chips and candy in separate sealable plastic bags.

Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit into the bottom and about half an inch up the sides of a six-inch skillet; roll up and pack. Pack a piece of foil slightly larger than the skillet.

a chocolate birthday cake, made with a recipe perfect for camping
Let the pros show you how to make a backcountry birthday cake on your next camping adventure.

To Serve

  • ⅓ cup (75 mL) water
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil

First, preheat your camp stove over low heat.

Shake flour mixture in bag; pour in four tablespoons of water and the oil. Gently squeeze until evenly moistened.

Rub a little water over both sides of the parchment paper to make it more flexible and prevent burning. Place parchment paper in skillet. Pour batter onto the paper and spread evenly; cover skillet with foil.

Hold skillet about two inches above the burner for five to eight minutes, or until the top just looks dry and edges spring back when lightly touched. Remove from heat; let stand covered for two minutes. Invert cake onto a plate or heatproof surface; peel off paper.

If using chocolate chips, sprinkle over hot cake and let melt, then gently spread to cover evenly. Let cool completely.

For the icing, add one teaspoon (5 mL) water to the icing sugar in the bag and gently squeeze to blend to a smooth, thick icing, just slightly thinner than a soft putty. If necessary, add a few drops of water at a time, and squeeze icing to mix, just until desired consistency. Cut a small tip off one bottom corner of bag, twist bag just above icing and gently squeeze to write or draw decorations on top of cooled cake, then garnish with sprinkles, as desired.

Additional Tips For The Perfect Backcountry Cake

Parchment paper might sound fussy for camping, but it does allow you to “bake” in a skillet without adding oil, which would create a fried product rather than a tender baked one.

If your burner doesn’t go low and tends to scorch foods and uses a pump to build pressure for the fuel canister, pump less pressure, or release some pressure, before lighting to reduce the flame and prevent burning baked goods.

Chopped dehydrated berries and nuts are a nice backcountry alternative to icing and sprinkles; just sprinkle them over top of the batter before cooking.

As a cheater backcountry birthday cake, you can use your favorite pancake recipe, stir in some coloured sprinkle and make a large pancake, then decorate the top with icing and more sprinkles.

Storm-proof matches can double as impromptu candles.

Baker’s Backcountry Cake Recipe from the NOLS Cooking Show:

 

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