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It's over 100 degrees right now... might as well experiment with solar baking!

Do any of you have much experience with solar baking? Since it's so hot here in Baltimore today I figured I would finally try it! Trying to bake a loaf of bread right now... I'll check on it at 3 p.m. and see how it looks.


I parked my truck in the most open, sunny spot of the parking lot this morning and let the pan pre-heat from 9 to 11:30.  Then I dropped the dough into the oiled roasting pan and closed it back up. Around 1:30 I moved the oven 180 degrees so that it's still getting the full rays of the sun. There are intermittent clouds today even though it's very hot, so I'm not sure if it's going to work, but we'll see!


I'm also a little worried since I forgot the clear plastic that goes over the pan to hold in the heat, but hopefully the black plastic liner of my truck will help keep the temperature raised. Also, I probably could have figured out a better parabola for my windshield reflector to maximize the heat a little more.


Not sure if bread was the best first experiment since bread really does better at super high temperatures to get that nice crust, but I'm curious to see what the results are in any case.


Maybe a better first experiment would have been dehydrating some tomatoes or peaches... perhaps I'll try that tomorrow!


Anyway, here's the dough when I first put it in at 11:30 a.m....


We'll see how it turns out!


It would be even more awesome to do this experiment in the big basket on my bike for the ultimate renewable energy machine! I thought about it this a.m. but biking to work with a big bowl of dough, windshield reflector, and huge roasting pan was a little too much to figure out last minute. Maybe next time!


The original blog post, which also contains a link to the recent Kojo Nnamdi show about an American diplomat's experience spreading the word about solar cooking in Afghanistan, is located here: http://www.baltimorediy.org/2011/07/its-scorching-out-lets-solar-ba...

Views: 213

Comment by Cornelia on July 21, 2011 at 4:01pm
Looking forward to the end-of-day / next day report! It IS HOT!!!
Comment by Aliza Ess on July 21, 2011 at 4:24pm

Aw, end report is not good Cornelia! I had a feeling that my oven still wouldn't get hot enough... I didn't cover the roasting pan with a plastic bag to hold in the heat, and I don't know if my reflector was set up at the right angle. I think I'll try crackers or something next  time instead of bread!


Comment by Pat Johnson on July 22, 2011 at 8:42am
You definately need a way to insulate the pot (even the oven bag probably wouldn't have held in enough heat. I double wall of insulation would do it though. Try finding a large innner tube (truck) and laying a window pane (or some other type of glass over it. The black rubber would insulate the sides and the glass would hold the heat. I experimented for a while before I bought a solar oven from the Solar Oven Society nealy 10 years ago and it still works great. It has a double wall and double clear cover that gets up to 23 degrees without the solar reflectors. If I put the reflectors up I get 350 degrees. For every one they sell they donate 2 to 3rd world contries that have deforested their lands so it was a great cause and a great oven! Its large enough to do 2 whole chickens at a time.
Comment by Ginny Hopper on July 26, 2011 at 1:01pm
So sorry your experiment didn't work. My first attempts at bread baking only provided me with 'door stops". I kept trying and today I bake wonderful bread.
Comment by Aliza Ess on July 27, 2011 at 9:26am
Aw, thanks for the support Ginny :) Usually my bread baking turns out better when I actually use and oven and follow the recipe! Can't wait until its winter... for now my only dough goals are rising dough for grilled pizzas or flatbreads!
Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on October 27, 2011 at 2:33pm
Great post, as usual, Aliza! A new skill that's definitely appreciated.  Consider submitting it in the First-Ever End-of-Season HOMEGROWN Fair.  All you have to do is edit the title to include “HOMEGROWN Fair Submission”.  Prizes awarded to the best of the best in all categories - including skillsharing!
Comment by Sharon Cousins on July 31, 2012 at 7:12pm

Sorry it didn't work out in the end.  You really needed that oven bag (or you can use round pans and 4 qt. pyrex casseroles—one upside down—for a cover).  The oven bag makes an astounding difference.  You are also far enough north that it will help a lot if you set the shade into a tub or bucket that let's it blouse/cone a bit under the food/rack, to let the light under.  But you are ALMOST there.  Solar cooking does work.  I can use it more than my stove six months of the year way up in northern Idaho.  Here is a section of wiki page with one of my best set-ups for a windshield shade.  I can get two gallons of camp water hot enough for dishes in half an hour in that puppy if the sky is right, or start early and cook up to ten pounds of meat or a couple gallons of soups/stew.  The link will take you to the part with the picture (click on it to see the close-up), but the whole page is worth careful attention if you want to cook with windshield shades.  http://solarcooking.wikia.com/wiki/Windshield_Shade_Solar_Cooker#.2...

Comment by Sharon Cousins on July 31, 2012 at 7:17pm

LOL... I'm the opposite of Aliza now.  I hate it when winter rolls around and I have to pay if I want to bake bread!   I bake far more of our bread in summer when the power is free.   Solar breads are wonderful.  I don't have a rig to do far-end crispy-crust artisan, but all the more everyday breads come out much better in solar cookers most of the time.  Here is a link to a picture of a batch of solar Challah: 


Comment by Sharon Cousins on August 1, 2012 at 3:50am

Oops, didn't look at the dates.  Guess this is an old post, so maybe Aliza has it all worked out by now.:)

Comment by Aliza Ess on August 1, 2012 at 2:15pm

Sharon, I am so impressed that you got this to work! Your tips were very helpful, thank you. I shared your photo of the solar baked challah on our Facebook page, it is amazing!


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