Spit-Making 101

All this talk of spit and sloppy drunkenness really is making for a macho week — as advertised. But why does one actually need to make a spit to make a spit cake? Because a normal meat-roasting spit is inadequate to the job. You can’t simply skewer a piece of dough on a stick, hold it over a fire and expect it to bake into anything. It would be too massive and the outside of the dough would burn before the interior baked.

The trick to a spit cake is to expose only thin strips of dough to the flame so that it has a realistic chance of baking all the way through. Sure, you could wrap a tiny amount of dough around a stick, but how much fun would that be? A fat log-like spit allows you to create a cake of a size that’s worth eating. It isn’t difficult to make one. I’ll show you how.

First, select your wood. Here I have an untreated 3 1/2″ pine wood bannister post that I got at a local hardware store. You can use virtually any type of wood for this job, but it MUST be untreated. None of that green, pressure-treated stuff you see at the lumber yard. It’s full of a preservative called alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ) and it’s toxic. If in doubt, ask somebody.

So then, seizing the nearest convenient saw, cut off an 8-or-so-inch piece.

Like so.

Now then locate a power drill and a 3/4″ flat bit like this:

Mark the center of the post and drill a hole about two inches deep. Let me emphasize that the technique shown in this photo is counter-indicated by every power drill manual on the planet. Do not drill this way. Use a proper vise, not your hand to hold the post piece steady. I did it like this because, well, this is frequently how we do things in Kentucky. On which note, yes, that’s the back of my friend’s pickup truck. Drill holes in both ends of the post.

Now then, secure a 3-foot length of 3/4″ dowel rod and cut it in half. Apply some wood glue to the end of one of the halves…

…wipe off the excess…

…and insert Peg A into Hole B.

There, you’re done. Just let it dry. Will it burn when I use it over a fire? I sincerely hope not, but we’ll see.

But what about the hole at the other end? I’ll insert the other half of the dowel into it when it comes time for baking. It’ll be easier to wind the dough on — and take the finished pastry off — if I don’t glue it.


NOTE: Had I been thinking this through fully, I’ve have seasoned this spit before I tried making spit cake on it. Wood — even wood that’s been lubricated with oil — does release very well. A liberal covering with oil, then a toasting over a hot fire, would create a seasoning layer on your spit. I plan on doing that, probably twice.

13 thoughts on “Spit-Making 101”

    1. Hmm…interesting idea. Maybe if you broke the handles off and pushed a dowel or metal rod through the pin. Never thought of that.

  1. I love your dedication to baking. Unless the cake goes in a tin and then in the oven, i’m not baking it. But i’m glad your willing to show us how!

  2. Awesome! My kids will love this on camping trips this summer… especially when they get to tend the spit!

    1. Never thought about that particular application. Spit cake at the camp site is a fantastic idea!

  3. I tried this while camping (on a glacier-polished granite slab in
    Georgian Bay). Two 14″ steel spikes and a thick stick found on site is all it takes. Next time it gets promoted from “experimental dessert” to breakfast.

    1. FANTASTIC Derek! Thanks so much for the note. There are a lot of readers out there who will be emboldened to try this as a result of your success — cheers!

      – joe

  4. mhhh. it’s tempting… but how do you carry the dough at the camp? i am afraid that will start rising again when i taking from fridge and we drive almost two hours to the camp…. should i keep air-sealed? sorry…never did this before 🙂

  5. JoAnn, My wife says that if you keep it iced down (put it in a container and keep it in an ice chest/cooler), it won’t rise. If you allow it to warm up, it will rise!

  6. Dear Joe, I tried chimney cake for the first time at Ligonier, PA this past weekend (Oct. 10-12, 2014). I was there to parade (for the 40th year in a row) during the annual Fort Ligonier Days celebration. One of the locally sponsored food booths advertised Chimney Cakes. (These were being offered by the Transylvanian Bakery Shop in Cleveland OH.) So I purchased a couple. They were huge! I shared them with everyone in our campsite. Came home and started researching. I have to tell you, yours is the best, most comprehensive, easiest to understand site I found. I feel emboldened to try this at home, even to the point of attempting to make my own spit, (possibly out of a seasoned rolling pin with some adjustments on the handles). Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge of this treat! I am very grateful. Sara

    1. It’s a lll worth it for that sort of praise, Sara! 😉

      Thanks very much for all your very kind words and let me know how it goes!


      – Joe

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