Friday, January 9, 2009

Baking Bread in a Solar Oven

Sun baked bread....

In previous posts I have talked a little about my joy of cooking with a Solar Oven . Should the need arise in an emergency, we have a way to bake bread and pretty much anything that can be baked. I love my oven. The last 6 months with it have been a great learning adventure.

Particularly, I wanted to share some tips on baking bread in a solar oven.

The chamber in a solar oven is a lot smaller than a conventional oven.

One thing I have found is that is is possible to only bake two loaves at a time. This is okay if you plan on making a few batches. Just start them an hour apart and they will be perfectly timed for the solar oven. The only situation this would not be true, is if you bake your bread in a WIDE mouth quart mason jar. Grease them pretty well! Then you can bake them 3-4 at a time.

Second, For bread, once you have formed it into a loaf, it is okay to put it in the oven immediately. The oven takes long enough to heat up that the final "proof" can be done there inside the oven. This allows your bread not to get too light and have better slicing quality.

Third, I heard that it was very difficult to get anything brown in a solar oven.
The enclosed chamber holds in the moisture.

They will get good and golden brown, however, if you don't clasp the door shut.
Close the glass, but don't clasp it. This allows moisture to escape but not all the heat.

They are still pretty pale, but not white.

Test them for doneness by inserting a meat thermometer in the loaf. If it registers 175 degrees, it is cooked.

In any situation however, it is always good to have some practice cooking in a different way than with gas or electricity. This oven is great for camping!! It is light enough my 5 yr. old can carry it. It is also amazingly fun!

More information can be found at: I don't sell them.


Kathy said...

I could totally use one of those now since my oven is STILL broken. They are supposed to be out Monday morning to fix it. Yeah!!

Chef Tess said...

Oh I hope it gets fixed soon!! It's not fun being without it!! You should get one of these! They are so cool!!

Amy said...

That is fantastic! Where did that thing come from?

Chef Tess said...

You can order them online. Ace found one local but they are used all over the world! Base camps at Mt. Everest, third world countries, you name it. Check out that web address. I was so impressed by all that they do for the world in general.

Anonymous said...

I have one of those Sun Ovens too, but haven't tried yeast bread yet. Questions: What city (latitude) are you in? What time of year did you do this? (if Jan. that is really impressive b/c the sun is so low if you're in the northern hemi) How high did your temperature go? When did you start the bread *in* the oven (time of day)? How long did it take to be done? How did you know it was done--did you keep poking a thermometer in? (I bring my bread up to 190 degrees in the regular oven). What kind of bread is this? (I make 100% whole wheat with King Arthur--my feeling is a white might bake faster or easier). What a great idea not to latch it--I get lots of condensation from casseroles and other things. Thanks so much for posting this, and if you can answer these questions, I will feel so much better prepared !

Chef Tess said...

I actually don't tell where I am exactly in Arizona. However, it is safe to say that we are almost exactly in the middle of the state. When I make yeast bread I do the final raise inside the oven while it heats. This ensures the dough doesn't raise too much. My cooking period in January (yes this really was in January) is usually about 5 hours, depending on the day. It stays pretty sunny. Temperature in the oven usually averages about 350 degrees. I usually plan on keeping the bread in the oven 1 1/2-2 hours from the start of the rise to the time I first test it. 175 degrees plus for doneness. This is the "overnight started bread" (check under basic bread under the labels section for complete tutorial). White bread does bake about 25 minutes. I prefer whole wheat flour. I grind my own, but I adore KA brand as well. One of my favorites! Great questions. Hopefully I have helped. Please come back often.

Shire said...

Oh, that is so helpful, yes ! I understand why you don't want to say, no problem, which is why I asked latitude. My latitude is 39 and yours is probably around 34, so 5 degrees difference. In Jan here, my oven didn't get much above 300. This is VERY helpful and I will do a test run this weekend (it's April now, and my state gets almost as much sun as yours). I am thinking of getting a hand mill to grind--Country Living Mill. I showed my husband your painted bread, and he was very impressed.

Anonymous said...

My husband made me a simple box solar cooker with plywood and a old window (the handy guy he is) tho we haven't ever got the temp above 260 degrees F I've cooked bread, cupcakes, pulled pork, cookies and beans. I live in Alberta Canada. People told me it wasn't gonna work I've proved them wrong! :)

Chef Tess said...

Waaawhooo! That is awesome!!

Anonymous said...

OK, I'm in. I found a Solar Oven made from cardboard at a garage sale for $1. This was not homemade, but commercially done for 3-rd world.
So now I'm starting the bread, will bake it in my SO.
Wish me luck!
I'm still debating whether to spend the $ for a metal one. Hopefully this will provide an answer.

Jamal Mohamed said...

Great post on "Baking Bread in a Solar Oven". As a professional chef i have to appreciate your work. Keep Posting useful posts like this. Keep in touch with my websites- cooking courses in dubai | cooking institutes dubai