Baking Bread on a Solar Cooker: A Step-by-Step Guide
We are very excited to share a success story from Jim Petty, one of our customers in California. He has been experimenting with his SolSource Classicfor baking bread and shared photos and notes from his most recent trial.
He says that the resulting whole wheat loaf tasted great! The pictures do look delicious, even better than our experience using solar ovens to bake bread.
In order to bake using SolSource Classic, he replicated the inside of an oven by placing an aluminium cake pan on top of a raised platform inside a stainless steel stockpot. The raised platform was made up of two wire cooling racks separated by small metal muffin cups that raised the cake pan about 1 inch above the stock pot bottom. Raising the cake pan off the bottom of the stockpot prevents the bottom of the bread loaf from burning because the bread doesn’t make direct contact with the focused heat at the center of the pot bottom.
The recipe he used was a standard yeasted wholewheat loaf, which required the “oven” to be preheated to 425°F. Preheating took him about 45 min, while the baking time was about 1 hour. He says that next time he will try raising the pan an additional 1/4 to 1/2 inches to compare the results. We suggested that he also experiment with adding aluminum foil to the bottom of the stainless steel stock pot before adding the rack. This might also help reduce the bread’s direct exposure to high heat. If you’d like to replicate this set up, all you need is a stock pot, round cooling rack that fits inside the stock pot, and something metal to raise the cooling rack evenly above the bottom of the pot (such as metal muffin cups or cookie cutters). You will also need an aluminum pan that fits inside the stock pot for the bread, as well as a thermometer.
- Start making your wholewheat dough and let it proof after kneading (1-2 hours before you start baking).
- Place the metal muffin cups evenly spaced in the bottom of the stock pot.
- Put the metal cooling rack on top of the metal muffin cups.
- Insert the thermometer so you can keep track of the temperature while preheating and place the lid on top.
- Place the stock pot on SolSource and align it to the sun using the focal aid.
- Wait for the pot to reach the desired preheat temperature as indicated by the thermometer (about 45 minutes)
- Now put your ready dough into the pot. Add a splash of water on the side of the pot to create some steam for a crusty loaf.
- Bake for 1 hour or until it has risen, sounds hollow when tapped underneath.
- Remove from the pot and leave to cool on a wire rack.
If you find that the stock pot does not preheat very quickly, try using one that is matte in finish to reduce the amount of light reflected by the pot. You can also experiment with a cast iron dutch oven. If you find that the bread is slightly burned on the bottom, try increasing the height of the rack inside the pot by using taller muffin cups. You can also try adding a sheet of aluminum foil to the bottom of the stock pot before placing the muffin cups inside. Please let us know how it works out, either on SolSource Classic or another type of solar cooker or solar oven. We always enjoy learning from experiments!