Outdoor bread baking, gas grill and attempt #1
I tried my hand at baking bread on the grill this past weekend. With summer upon us, and daily temps at 100 degrees, sometimes higher, it is necessary to forego the kitchen oven and hone my breadbaking skills in a 'cooler' environment.
Since I normally do the grilling, I had an idea of my hotspots ahead of time. I'd researched the web, and the many links of TFL to understand that this was a venture where I shouldn't expect perfection, but as with an bread baking, note that with due time I might surprise myself with the results.
Remember my pizza stone that was unfit for the kitchen? I'd thrown it out into the garden to use as a stepping stone. Oh yes! It's true. I went for that gem, scoured it with a non-suds steel wool pad, doused it with organically compounded dish soap, washed it some more. Returned it to the outdoors to air dry, retrieved it and slathered it with olive oil. Placed this little gem outside to bake in the sun and returned a couple hours later. Rubbed a paper towel over it and placed it on the center rack of the grill, over an old toaster oven rack. (I wanted to build a bit more insulation around the stone and grill rack.) Shut the grill door and fired up all four burners to the low setting. I allowed them to heat for 15 minutes, while back in the kitchen I was proceeding with last minute details for the first loaf: egg white/cream wash, slashing and a covering of sesame seeds. (Next time I will slash first, wash and then apply seeds...the wash made the surface a bit tricky to cut).
Back out to the grill, carrying the loaf (set upon a bit of parchment for easy slide to the stone), and my old stew pot I planned on using as a cover/cloche. Open the grill, slid in the loaf, covered and went inside for a cooler 20 minutes. Back at that time, removing the cloche item, I would find the loaf burnt on the bottom, but a lovely golden brown on the top. (what to do, what to do....surely it can't be done in a mere 20 minutes?). Carried the cover into the kitchen and with furrowed brow set about to panic. Threw caution to the wind and went quickly to retrieve the loaf. Picking it up I discovered how hollow it sounded, and the wonderful camelized smell. I knew I was on to something.
Round two, or, loaf #2. I turned two of the four burners off, leaving only those in the center on low, dusted the crispy-fried remnants of parchement off and allowed the oven to build even heat for about ten minutes. Redux of earlier loaf final prep and I am back to the grill for a second attempt. Slid the loaf onto the heated stone, this time leaving the cover/cloche in the kitchen. Returned the cover on the grill and went to time this prize for 15 minutes. ... tic, tic, tic.....Lift the cover and note that the loaf is NOT burnt, but a beautiful golden color on the bottom, yet the top is far from being browned. Quietly lower the lid on the grill and continue to bake for another 15 minutes. Final result? Not a golden browned loaf atop, but none-the-less an absolute in all other ways. I had an open crumb unlike anything I've ever accomplished in all of my prior baking attempts. With such success I had concluded that I'd never eaten better bread....I truly was a convert to this new way of baking. Today I will be attempting trial #2.
The camera battery is recharging as I type.