Backwoods cooking: bonfire banana boats and toffee apples

‘Practically the only thing you can’t take into the great outdoors is a microwave, and who needs one of those?’ – Nick Allen


Banana boats and toffee apples are so popular amongst Scouts, the recipes may as well be hardwired into our DNA. Not sure why? Head into the garden. Light a fire. You’ll soon see why.


For bonfire banana boats

You will need:
Mini marshmallows
A knife, for slicing
A spoon, for eating


  1. Slice the banana lengthways – leaving its skin intact.
  2. Cut a few horizontal slits into the banana, without slicing all the way through.
  3. Get your child to fill the gaps with chocolate and/or mini marshmallows.
  4. Wrap the banana in foil and place it into hot embers for ten minutes or so.
  5. Await the results eagerly, checking the foil regularly to avoid burning.
  6. Eat when the skins have blackened, and the chocolate has fully melted. Banana boats aren’t the prettiest of desserts, but it seldom matters. They’re at their peak when the ‘stuffing’ has melted and meshed together, creating a deliciously gooey mess.

Top-tip: For a healthier version, swap the chocolate and marshmallows for peanut butter.


For toffee apples

You will need:
A peeled greenstick* or metal stick
A bowl
An eating apple
Brown sugar
Cinnamon or nutmeg


  1. Get your child to wash the apple, and explain why this is important. Once clean, place the apple onto a peeled greenstick* (or metal stick) and hold carefully over hot embers until the peel is scorched (but not burnt). You will need to assist with this for safety.
  2. Remove from the fire and scrape off the peel together.
  3. Get your child to make up a messy mixture of sugar and nutmeg/cinnamon in their bowl. Roll the apple in it until it is fully covered and sticky.
  4. Rotate the apple slowly over hot embers until the sugar melts to form a glaze, then remove from the fire and allow to cool slightly before eating.

* Green stick skewers are a brilliant Backwoods Cooking tool and are perfect for this recipe and any others involving skewered food. Here’s how to define, find and prepare one:

A green stick, quite simply, is a stick that has been recently been removed from a tree, or which has at least recently fallen from a tree. On inspection, the wood should be alive and green. The ideal wood to use is hazel, followed closely by oak, birch and apple.

To prep the stick, simply pull it from the tree, and carefully peel away the bark before use. The peeling process removes any potential bacteria living on the outside of the stick, and makes it less likely that your food will taste bitter.