Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sun Oven, Part IV: Baking Bread with the Sun

I gotta admit that I was feeling a bit defeated this morning as I threw together the ingredients for bread. The results of my first Sun Oven experiment? Inedible, chemical-tasting cookies. The second one? Inedible, uncooked soup. Yipee, now I had the chance to make bread inedible.

After the first rising
I prepared my usual quadruple batch of EZ Whole Wheat Bread. My word, I love this bread. It would be a travesty to ruin an otherwise perfectly good loaf. I read over the pointers that Crystal (the same Crystal from Everydayfoodstorage.Net who developed that bread recipe) posted about baking bread in a Sun Oven. It seemed like it might be a good idea to forgo the second rising since the bread would be cooking at a low temperature for an extended time. All that extra time would give the bread the chance to rise to full height.

I preheated my Sun Oven and the thermometer read 300 degrees when I put the bread in.  The remaining three loaves I baked in my electric oven for comparison (and for insurance).

Bungee set-up

My beloved readers gave me lots of great tips in the comment section after my last Sun Oven fiasco. I took Julene's advice and raised the leg to capture more of the autumn sun and also used bungee cords to stabilize the reflectors. The bungees made a huge difference and it was definitely a windy day that put them to the test.

By 20 minutes, the glass door was covered with condensation. That was a problem. Condensation = less sunlight entering the box = a temperature drop.

Look! It's actually rising! 

I tried a couple of different methods of removing the condensation. First, I simply unlatched the door and the majority of the condensation went away. It came back within a matter of minutes, however, so I ended up wiping the inside of the door with a dishtowel.

I checked to see if the bread was done at about 45 minutes. It wasn't brown, but I thunked the top. It didn't have that hollow sound that bread should have. After another 10 minutes, the bread was ever so slightly brown and it did sound done.

"One of these things is not like the other"

Here's the finished product! Guess which loaf was baked in the sun? I read a tip somewhere that if you gently mist the bread with water prior to putting it in the Sun Oven, it enhances browning. By the time I remembered that, the bread had already been baking for a while. Besides, I used all my spray bottles to apply garlic-cayenne insect repellent this summer. Garlic-cayenne bread might taste good, but it was not what I was going for!

After the bread cooled, I eagerly sliced into the loaf. The outside was crusty but the inside was very moist. It was good and didn't taste at all like industrial strength chemicals. I've finally gotten the chemical smell cleaned out of the Sun Oven! I did miss that dark, caramelized taste I get from the bread baked in my oven. It also required more "babysitting" (oven position adjustments, condensation removal, etc.) than sticking a pan in my electric oven. Overall, I prefer oven-baked bread but I certainly wouldn't hesitate to eat this bread. Anyone would be happy to eat this bread during a power outage or while camping.  Finally, I'm able to appreciate what a great preparedness tool the Sun Oven truly is. I'm feeling pretty victorious. :)


  1. I am sooooo happy this worked for you!!! Yay!! I spritz my bread with water and it does brown, so for sure try it next time. I am so glad the smell is gone to, that worried me. And yay for bungee cords :) This was definitely a victory for you!!!!

  2. Yay! So glad you finally had a good sun oven experience. I haven't baked bread in mine yet. I was all set to do it one day but the sun stayed behind the clouds, and I had to make the bread indoors.