Monday, June 6, 2011

Solar Bread

Bread is often used as a metaphor for life. In fact, the word is used just as often as a metaphor as it is a food. Peter Reinhart has written some wonderful books on bread, many of which I own and refer to every day. In an interview, he states "bread making parallels the stages of how our souls unfold in search of meaning and purpose . . . it is whether each of us can find the links, the metaphorical and actual bridges that connect us to something bigger than ourselves." 

I'm not nearly as eloquent as Peter Reinhart, but I share his sentiment. As a mother and wife, making bread is a prayer of love. To me, a meal isn't complete without an accompanying loaf of bread. The smell of it cooking brings a sense of satisfaction and well being (but the 45 minute wait to slice it open is absolutely agonizing). The look on everyone's face as they eat a still warm piece of bread, though, is the best reward.

Our Global Sun Oven out by the garden path.
Rick, my wonderful and talented husband of 32 years, recently discovered the art of bread making and makes such awesome bread that that I've pretty much delegated him as baker of our daily bread. That leaves me to make the sourdough baguettes, the bagels, pita bread, and whatever other bread strikes my fancy. He's been absorbed in his new inkle loom, though, so I decided to experiment with the bread making process. Knowing that we were going to have a bright sunny hot day today outdoor cooking seemed the way to go, so I thought I'd give the solar oven a try. I make coffeecakes in it—and they come out great—so I was wondering how bread would turn out. It would save on our propane use and keep the house cooler than if we had a 475 degree oven on for an hour. Anyway, I mixed some dough at 10:30 last night so I could get the bread out by 11 a.m. 

Rick's recipe is super simple—flour, instant yeast, sea salt, and water. That's it. Mix together and leave overnight. Normally he'll cook the bread in a Romertopf clay cooker, but I was planning on using two regular loaf pans in the solar oven. Because of that I increased the flour and added more yeast because I wasn't sure if the solar oven would be hot enough to pop the dough up nicely. And I couldn't resist adding some honey and powdered milk.

The finished loaves.
My solar oven bread recipe:

4 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. yeast
1/4 cup powdered milk
1 Tbl. honey
2 cups water
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

I mixed the dough and left it over night. I put the solar oven outside first thing to heat up. Then I divided the dough into the two loaf pans and let them rise a bit while I ate breakfast. I left the breads in the solar oven while I ran 5 miles and took a shower. When the internal temperature of the bread reached 210 degrees and the top looked brown, I took them out. The bread didn't rise as much as if I had left it for a longer second rise, or baked it in a hotter oven, but it did taste great and had a good crumb. Next time I might let it rise a bit more. Rick says I should use less yeast, especially since I'm leaving it overnight to ferment, but I'm not sure about that. I feel that the bread should be risen about an inch or more over the top of the bread pan before it goes into the solar oven.

We have a Global Sun Oven, which they say can reach temperatures of 400 degrees. Ours tends to average between 300 and 350 degrees. It's wonderful, though, and I'll post other solar recipes.

No comments:

Post a Comment