COME LET US BAKE BREAD TOGETHER!
Hello, Little Bend Friends!
Today was August 1st and we had a warm, sunny Saturday here at the farm. It got up to about 85 degrees which by Minnesota’s standards is HOT! So I tried to decide what to do on this dog day of summer and I came up with baking some potato bread!
What you may ask? Why bake bread on a hot day and risk warming up the house and probably needing to run the air conditioning! That doesn’t sound to energy conscious and with in Little Bend’s philosophy!
Well settle down and let me tell you how to bake bread using one of the gifts that God gave us! You see we made bread from the sun! Yes the sun baked our bread. No we didn’t throw a chunk a dough out on the back deck and hoped it cooked! You see we have a solar oven and if you have never heard of solar oven before it is a device that uses the sun’s rays to cook food.
How it works is you have a black container under glass that heats up the air and then there are reflective panels that collect the sun’s rays and directs it into the container. Below is a picture of the particular solar oven which Little Bend uses and it is made by All American Sun Oven
However; there are many different styles and varieties and you can even build your own from plans readily available on the internet if you are so inclined.
We started out the traditional way of baking bread which is to make the dough and you do this the traditional way so I won’t go into that.
While the bread was rising I set up the solar oven which takes all of about 1 minute. The panels quickly unfold and I adjusted the incline and the direction to align it with the sun. My particular sun oven has what they call solar eyes as shown below. They are simply holes that when aligned properly show the sun in the circles of the oven which lets you know that you are getting the maximum sun alignment. This makes it very easy to operate and practically fool-proof. Also with the All-American Sun Oven I went and bought the pans and accessory kit which you get the bread loaf pans, stew pot, swivel rack, and other accessories.
When the oven was up to temperature which in Minnesota it took around an hour to get to 375 degrees but it will differ in different parts of the country. The dough had risen so we were ready to go. So I put the loaf in the oven and went back in the house for a cool glass of lemonade because it was hot out there!
Every 20 minutes or so I went out and checked on the operation and checked the solar eyes and rotated the oven to achieve maximum alignment. One thing to caution you on is don’t look at the reflective panels straight on! They are VERY bright. Instead try to approach the solar oven at an off angle of the sun. The other thing to remember is the oven gets HOT! So be sure to use gloves when opening the door or touching the pans inside.
A solar oven works much like a regular oven except instead of flame or electricity it uses the sun and so consequently it does not have a dry heat. Instead it is a more moist heat, think of the heat like the heat of a crock pot. This makes meats and stews come out so moist and tender they literally fall apart! However; to brown the bread which we like, towards the end we brushed on a little butter to get the top browned.
I find the solar oven so versatile and useful that I find myself thinking of all of the many ways I can use it. In addition to cooking the solar oven can be used for drying herbs, pasteurizing liquids, and even melting our honeycomb wax from our beehives! Even in the cold frigid Minnesota winters where the temperatures stay below freezing all day it will get hot enough to boil water!
So there you have it a delicious loaf of potato bread which we had with a nice spaghetti meal. It was quite delicious and so easy and fun to have the sun bake our bread! It only took around an hour to bake the bread and with plenty of sunlight left I melted some honeycomb wax and even dried some basil making it a very productive afternoon.
By the way even though it was warm out we have a way to keep the house cool so we did NOT have to run the air conditioning but that is a conversation for another post!
Till then “God Bless friends and we’ll Gobble at ya later!”