by Tammy Taylor
As I rose early one morning and glanced out the window at yet another beautiful Taylor-Made sunrise, I wondered if the day would be good to bake bread outside. The clouds are beginning to burn off. And a quick check of the forecast shows that the weatherman promises lots of sun and low wind. Of course in a solar oven you need the sun to bake bread, but wind can wreak havoc with the reflectors. I decided to go for it!
You’ve just got to love those precious souls that wake up eager to greet the day. You know the ones – they spring out of bed with a smile on their lips and a song in their heart?
Well unfortunately that’s not me. Oh I love mornings but I’m certainly in slow gear until I receive coffee-inspired motivation.
So into the kitchen I shuffle, yawning and still half asleep – morning coffee still firmly gripped in my hand. Luckily I know myself well enough that I’ve started using several Bread-Making Shortcuts. I’ve already premixed the dry ingredients for my bread recipe and placed them in baggies in the freezer.
I simply pull out one of the premixed bags of dry bread ingredients. Then I mix it with yeast, warm water, butter and an egg. Now I set it aside for the first rise, punch down and shaping.
By the time the loaves are shaped I’ve set up the *solar oven and it’s ready to go. Since the winter sun here in North Texas is still pretty low in the southern sky, the oven is tilted pretty strongly to the south to channel the sun’s energy directly into the oven.
The bread pans go into the oven to rise a second time. I keep the oven door ajar so it doesn’t get hot enough to actually bake the bread but offers a warm environment which will allow the bread to rise beautifully.
When the second rise is complete I close and latch the oven door. Even though the temps today are a chilly 40 degrees, the temperature inside the oven rises quickly to over 300 degrees.
About thirty minutes later I brush melted butter on the crusts to both soften and add the flavor my family loves. Fifteen minutes later this bread is ready to come out of the oven. (inhales deeply….)
There’s nothing like the smell of fresh-baked bread! Hummmm…. Although the quantity of flour I used kept the bread from rising properly, I see someone sneaky just couldn’t resist helping themselves to a slice while it’s still hot… (See note below about my fluffy sandwich bread recipe!)
I’m still pretty new to solar baking but I’m already in love with it. Our climate in the summer is stiflingly hot and humid and I hate to turn on the oven and pump even more heat into the house. Although I often make homemade bread I seldom do so in the summer months because of this. I’m anxious to try this solar oven for baking bread this summer.
I also plan to use it quite heavily to dehydrate garden veggie excess from our garden. I’ll simply keep the door ajar so humidity can exit and the heat doesn’t get too high. Can’t wait to give it a try.
Have any of you tried a solar oven? Do you have any advice to share?
UPDATE: My bread recipe always seemed result in a pretty heavy and dense loaf, so I’ve changed to a Taylor-Made KitchenAid Sandwich Bread recipe that delivers a light, fluffy loaf every time!
You can see our other SOLAR cooking articles here
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