When I moved onboard Spirit (our first sailboat, a Hunter Legend 37) almost 3 years ago, I downsized my belongings drastically, getting rid of a whopping 8 garbage bags full of clothes. After donating what I would say was about 75% of my stuff, I felt liberated and so excited that I was finally getting to experience living aboard a sailboat, which was one of my goals when Jack and I met.
Although I was stoked to be an official liveaboard, there was one thing I was going to miss dearly from land-lubber life - and that was baking.
Spirit did not come equipped with an oven, only a tiny 2-burner stovetop with a broiler and the rail mounted BBQ in the cockpit. I grew up loving to bake, so suddenly not having an oven was really the only thing that I did not love about living on a boat. The broiler is a tiny propane heated square that sits only 3” above whatever you are trying to heat, burning anything left or forgotten for more than 1 minute. Pretty much, the broiler’s job is restricted mainly to toasting bread and melting cheese.
Convinced that I would one day bake onboard our boat, I began reading and experimenting with making recipes on the BBQ, mainly in our cast iron skillet. This was a step up from burning things in the broiler, but it was hard to maintain the heat on top of the skillet without burning the bottom. We found that this was the best way of making homemade sourdough pizza, giving it a crispy crust.
After a couple of rounds of trial-and-error cornbread, I felt that there must be another way to bake with the cooking tools we had on board. I found that a cast iron dutch oven (we have this one and love it!) can be used on the stovetop as a mini oven, placing a cake pan inside of it. Discovering this satiated my baking cravings and opened up opportunities galore for new recipes to be made onboard.
After trying different recipes such as banana bread, breads, cinnamon rolls & many other not so successful recipes, I refined my Dutch Oven technique even more. By adding a heat diffuser to better disperse the heat of our tiny stovetop burner I found that I could eliminate the burnt bottoms that seemed unavoidable when cooking on the stovetop. To further perfect the dutch oven setup, I added the threaded piece of a mason jar lid underneath the cake pan, to suspend it in the dutch oven and ensure even baking.
Successful attempts have included cinnamon rolls, sourdough biscuits, brownies, breads of all sorts, carrot cake, monkey bread, lasagna, enchiladas and more.
Comment below if you want to try this unique method of stovetop baking - we would happily give you any tips/tricks we have figured out!
Until next time!