Bake Outdoors and Beat the Heat
Do you want to avoid baking yourself out of your own kitchen on hot summer days? With a little trial and error, I was able to quite successfully bake bread in an outdoor barbeque grill. See the short video documentary.
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With summer temperatures running obnoxiously high on occasion, the appeal of indoor baking starts to wane a bit for me. The energy conservationist (and cheapskate) in me finds it a little painful to watch our central air conditioner struggling to compete with the kitchen oven. I also enjoy grilling pizza so I sometimes combine the events. There’s an element of adventure in outdoor baking you may find appealing.
My grill is a pretty basic model and not thermostatically controlled, so it took some practice to get familiar with where to set the flame height and where to position the bread in relation to the flames. The most important thing I found was not to have too much heat too close to the bottom of the bread or it will scorch. That was easily solved by cranking up the side burners while keeping the center burners, directly under the bread, on medium.
For the bread to bake uniformly, I think it’s necessary to bake it in some kind of covered baking vessel, ala the no knead baking method. A cast iron Dutch oven ought to work well, but definitely do NOT use a La Cloche clay baker as the base is too fragile for grilling purposes. As you can see in the video, I use a heavy baking stone with a Cloche lid over it. This works great but even a heavy duty baking stone should not come into direct contact with flames or it may crack. The stone I use is specifically designed for grilling and comes with a flame diverter (a metal tray the stone rests in) that prevents cracking.
Even if your grill has a thermometer on it, it’s probably not going to give you a very reliable reading. The use of a simple instant read probe type thermometer takes the guesswork out of determining your total baking time. Wait until the internal temperature of the bread is in the 200-205 degree range before taking it out to cool.
If you have any experience with bread or pizza grilling, I’d love to hear about it.