Camping Desserts: Apple Crumble

We love to camp.  We’ve been camping with a group of friends for years. In fact, it’s the group of friends that Alicia used to camp and rock climb with back in high school. Before any of us had kids we used to go for hiking trips where we would camp at a campground at night. We talked about “bagging a 5000-footer.”  Back then we’d have pre-made food that we just needed to heat-and-eat.  By the time we got back from hiking, everyone was too tired to cook.

Camping Apple Crumble

Camping Apple Crumble

Then our group of friends started having children.  I would have liked to wimp out, but since I was the third one to get pregnant, I not only couldn’t use it as an excuse to not go, I had friends who already understood what sort of help a new mom would need when camping.  With children,  we tended to lean to a lot of ready-to-cook foods.  We also started doing potluck meals, since everyone wanted to be sure they had food their children would eat.

Now the majority of the children among our camping friends are 8 and up, with just 2 pre-schoolers in the entire group, so we’ve started to think about more “fun” camp cooking.  This year we tried two camp desserts that involved a lot of work, but were fun to do.  We made toasted doughboys and apple crumble in a home made camp oven.


Alicia & Ellie with camping oven

Last weekend while camping with Ellie’s Brownie Troop I saw how they made and used a camp oven to make apple crumble. She really wanted to do the same with her friends while camping, so I brought the tools & ingredients along.

Ellie recruited three of her friends to help, and in the end, instead of managing to  recruit some of the boys, I got one of my friends to help too 🙂

Here’s what you need

  • Box with flaps still attached
  • Aluminum foil
  • 2 or 3 metal skewers (long enough to go through the box and out the other side
  • 2 foil pans that fit in the pan
  • Charcoal
  • Apple peeler
  • Apple corer/slicer
  • Bag of apples
  • Brown sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Quick Oats
  • Butter

Ellie and her friends peeled, cored and sliced the apples.  She’s 8 and she taught her friends, ages 6 and 10 how to peel, core and slice apples.  (Note, they used a corer/slicer, I wouldn’t have let them use knives.)   I occasionally saw others helping too, I think they used a little Tom Sawyer magic on the others.

Put charcoal in your campfire to get it hot and burning.

My friend and I wrapped the box, inside & out, with aluminum foil.  We used a little duct tape to hold it on.   You have to cover  both the inside and outside to prevent fires.  When we unwrapped the box later, we found a hole had burnt through the box, but the foil had prevented a fire from starting.

The skewers are to make a wrack for your food to sit on above the coals. Poke them through the box about halfway up.  Make sure they go completely through the other side so that they are structurally sound. Make sure your foil pans fit inside the oven.  I had to fold the ends up a little to get the doors to close.  It’s best to check this before adding the hot coals.


Camping oven with apple crumble and coals

Once the apples are peeled, cored, sliced and piled in the pan, prep some topping.  We mixed brown sugar, cinnamon & quick oats in a bowl to help with the distribution.  It’s hard to say how much, but after we sprinkled it liberally someone commented that they usually put a lot more oats on top, so we doubled the oats.  It was  good layer.  Then we put pats of butter around the top.  The whole thing was piled quite high in the pan.

We put the apple crisp in the oven on the rack we had made for it.  Then I took the other foil tray to the fire.  Using long tongs I pulled the coals out of the fire and put them in the tray.  I looked for ones that were clearly burning on their own and would keep burning. It was VERY HOT.  I used fire gloves to put the pan into the oven and closed the door.

I warned the adults that the box was now hot, and that if they saw smoke coming from it to DO SOMETHING.  I made sure everyone knew that we did not expect smoke to come from the box, and that it should not be bumped.

Make sure you leave a door cracked a little, or don’t close both sets of flaps.  We managed to put the coals out by not allowing any air into the box the first time we tried, luckily I noticed long before we wanted to eat dessert.

You can’t really overcook apple crisp as long as you’re not burning it, so we set it up before dinner, and when we were done eating, about 2 hours later, pulled it out to eat.  It was AWESOME.

Perhaps the best part of the apple crisp was how proud the children were of the really awesome dessert that they made themselves.

Happy Greening



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