The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Outdoor bread baking, gas grill and attempt #1

  • Pin It
GrapevineTXoldaccount's picture
GrapevineTXolda...

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. 

Marni's picture
Marni

What a great bread adventure! That sounds like such fun and I'm so glad you enjoyed the results. I don't have a stone lying around to use or I'd be trying the BBQ tonight, you make it sound so good.

Marni

Trishinomaha's picture
Trishinomaha

I can't wait to see photos and hear of your further refinements on this method.

 Trish

GrapevineTXoldaccount's picture
GrapevineTXolda...

trial run #2...so tomorrow morning, weather permitting, I'll have another go-round.  Camera battery is charged, dough is proofing in the fridge and this baker is, ready, set, and prepared for 'lift-off'...or, as we baker's would note, 'ready for rise and toast'.  :)

Thanks for hanging with me, I promise to post the success, or failure, part II, as it unfolds.

GrapevineTXoldaccount's picture
GrapevineTXolda...

Success!  Well, I think so, anyway.  :)

First loaf:  Two outer burners placed on LOW with a preheat of 15 minutes; prepping the stage with the old grill pan and pizza stone atop.  Scored my room temp loaf, then washed it with egg white/cream, sprinkled atop with sesame seeds. 

Loaded oven after preheat, baked for 25 minutes, lifted grill lid, turned the boule 180 degrees and quickly and quietly replaced the lid.  Continued to bake for another 15 minutes...no peeking....turned off the grill and allowed the loaf to sit in radiant heated arena for another 10 minutes.  Lifted the lid and blessed the saints!

Second loaf:  (had to dash for a commitment, but returned hours later to dub this a  success, too).  Preheated the grill, this time using all four jets, each placed on the LOW setting.  At ten minutes preheat, turned off the inner two jets, placed the scored and washed/seeded loaf atop the fandangle and headed into the A/C and my timer.  'Let's try 35 minutes and see what happens'....tic, tic, tic....Lift the cover to find another blessed beauty, a bit more golden and I'm thinking, 'Turn off the heat and allow this baby to radiantly smile for another ten minutes. 

I have photos...how many would you like to see?  (You'd think this was the birth of my grandchild, wouldn't you? :)  )

Attempt #2...Outdoor bread baking, gas grill 

Marni's picture
Marni

I can see why you're thrilled. That loaf is just gorgeous! Do you have a picture of your setup in the grill?

Does this seem like more work than usual? Or does the fun of it all make up for it? Do you think it can be done without the stone? I'd love to give it a try. Did you mention what recipe you used? So many questions- I hope you don't mind. I'm in Southern California and it can get pretty hot here too- sometimes I dread using the oven.

Is this picture of the first or second loaf? It looks delish.

Marni

Trishinomaha's picture
Trishinomaha

I am so glad you posted pictures. I will definately be trying this. The pictures of the set-up of the grill are also very welcome. I suspect there will be a lot of bread grilling going on in the next few weeks all over the country =).

 Trish

loafluver's picture
loafluver

Tried the Weber three burner and a couple Pampered Chef rectangle stones stacked up. The flavor was what I've been after for awhile but the loaves were anemic looking. Not enough heat? The weber thermometer is pretty accurate- I crosschecked it with an oven thermo. Great way to have fresh GOOD bread. Any thoughts?

ejm's picture
ejm

excerpt from baking911.com: bread problems (this is a link):



pale crust: Under-risen dough. Over-handling or over-risen dough.



excerpt from FAQ for alt.bread.recipes:



Crust color too pale



  1. Insufficient sugar or malt

  2. Dough too old

  3. Temperature of dough too high during fermentation

  4. Dough alowed to crust during proof

  5. Insufficient humidity during proof

  6. Oven temprature too low


excerpt from northwestsourdough.com troubleshoot (this is a link):



if you forgot to spray or get enough steam into your oven in the first ten minutes of baking, you may end up with a pale crust.



I'm guessing that if the flavour was what you were looking for, it might be the last one that caused the pale crust. Did you spray the loaf liberally with water before putting it onto the stone?


-Elizabeth


P.S. We still haven't baked an actual loaf on the bbq but we've baked buns in our gas barbecue on a number of occasions.


excerpt from hamburger buns baked on the barbecue (this is a link):



Here's how we did the baking in the Barbecue: After the buns have been shaped and risen, we put them over direct heat for about 8 minutes, turning them once to account for uneven heat in the barbecue. Then moved them over to cook with indirect heat until they were done (about another 8 minutes)... (our gas barbecue can be turned off on one side).



Note that for this, we did NOT use our stone but baked the buns on a cookie sheet.


For pizza, we use a stone. We really MUST try using the stone to bake buns. I'm a little reluctant to bake a loaf of bread though - the barbecue would have to be going for quite a while. That's a lot of fuel.

jessicap's picture
jessicap

I've been making foccaccia on the gas grill, because it isn't as sensitive, and doesn't require a browned top. I let the the foccaccia (either Peter Reinhart's pain a l'ancienne, or a variation on no-kneed dough -- a wet dough, at any rate) proof on a (plain metal) half sheet pan with a lot of olive oil, turn the burners on the grill to about 3/4 power, stack that half sheet pan inside a second one -- no stone at all -- and bake (grill?) for about 20 minutes. I don't have any photos, but it has been a huge hit. And I can then grill dinner without having to remove a very hot stone.

holds99's picture
holds99

That's a beautiful loaf.  Who would have thought you could produce such a great loaf of bread on a grill?  My hat is off to you.

Howard

willow's picture
willow

Guess what I'm doing

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Nicely done. You're becoming a regular veteran of the X-File Sourdough style of baking. Appears that gas fired BBQs do a great job of baking. You reminded me of something I forgot to check on, whether my new baking stone will fit in the Weber?

What an entre to a California style BBQ, baked sourdough bread, cooling as the guests arrive for the main event. Nonchalantly telling them that this is your way of beating the heat in the summer time. That's going to be hard to top. Making it look nonchalant will probably be the difficult part...,

Wild-Yeast

GrapevineTXoldaccount's picture
GrapevineTXolda...

and a whole lotta, "THANK YOU'S"!  I'm grateful that I can be amongst folks who understand, and appreciate an effort.  :)

Now, here's my second attempt at photo downloads.  Hold your breath, I'm sweating bullets for fear that I will lose my info again.... :/

Prep onePrep one

'stepping-stone' pizza stone'stepping-stone' pizza stone

First loaf ready for bakingFirst loaf ready for baking

Brown me some more, please....Brown me some more, please....

Attempt #2...Outdoor bread baking, gas grillAttempt #2...Outdoor bread baking, gas grill

second loaf, crumbsecond loaf, crumb

GrapevineTXoldaccount's picture
GrapevineTXolda...

I was wondering how important a stone would be in the process, that's why I ventured out into the garden and retrieved the old discarded one.  I've been meaning to purchase a new one, but simply never got around to it.

Initially I thought I'd just try placing my bread atop a second grill pan (this is how I've been baking bread indoors since my good pizza stone cracked), but then I recalled that discarded stone.  It had filled the house with an acrid odor when I first used it, but, 'hey, I'll be baking outside, no worry'.  And I am glad that I retrieved it, the browning and crust of the loaves reminded me of what I have missed since having to revert to an earlier baking method.  (Who knows, maybe I'll burn the smell off of  this stone and it will be fine to use indoors).

So...honestly, I can't say how my results would be if I tried another method.  At this point I'm spoiled.  I love the crunch and twist of that bottom; it's heaven reunited, all things wonderous and I can't go back...lol.  BUT, isn't this what the true challenge is for us bread bakers, taking that bit of knowledge we possess and turning it up a knotch?  Hey, if we succeed, we share, if we fail, we still share.  Pushing the limits, the boundaries, the dough, that is what it's all about. 

Bread is our journey.  We are a happy sort.  :)

A recipe?  Oh, now this is where it gets shady.  I weighed my flour, it was five cups.  Water, that was about one and three-fourths cups.  Poolish, about one and three fourth's cups.  Salt?  Two teaspoons.  Olive oil?  Two teaspoons.  Honey?  'Yes, dear'....two teaspoons. 

   ... that poolish:  wet, not firm, part rye, part bread flour, a shake or two of flax seed, and water from the fridge...

This ain't helping, is it?  I'M SORRY :/

 

Marni's picture
Marni

Thanks for the info.  I really do hope to try the grill this summer.  Your recipe sounds delicious- and is just the way I like to bake- get started and go with how it looks and feels.  I keep forgetting about flax, thanks for the reminder.

Marni

Windischgirl's picture
Windischgirl

Grapevine, you are truly inspirational!  I shall certainly have to try the gas grill when the temps top 90F here.  I tend to wilt in the heat, and as we don't have A/C (100 year old house!) anytime I can grill I do.

I am curious if you know what the temp inside your grill was during the baking.  I tend to cook on low--a slow grill to avoid those carcinogens--and the themometer built in the grill lid reads about 275F on low...much too low to bake bread.

So: anybody who tried this have a read on grill temperature?  If not, I will rig up a way to have my oven therm. hanging off the side, or some such, to figure out when we get into the 400F+ range.

Wow...I could bake my rolls first and then grill my burgers and never heat up the kitchen.  What a concept!

Windi

Philadelphia PA

lucyolive's picture
lucyolive

I've been trying to perfect my gas grill bread baking techiques for the past couple weeks here in 100 degree+ California. This works well for me:

1. I've been using the NY Times recipe-no-knead method (wet dough, 16-24 hour fermentation, variation: 2 cups whole rye flour, 2 cups unbleached bread flour, 1 cup sourdough starter, 1 3/4 cups water, sea salt and bruised caraway seed.)

2. I lay the sticky dough on a well-floured pastry cloth, fold it over three times, and plop it into a parchment-lined pie plate. I let it rise about 1-2 hours, depending on how much time I have. (sometimes it doesn't seem to rise very much, but then poufs up when I bake it)

3. I place a covered, cast iron dutch oven on my Weber 3-burner gas grill, close the cover, turn all the knobs to "med" and preheat until the temp gauge reads 500 degrees.

4. I walk outside with my pie plate of dough, heavy duty tongs and 1/4 cup or so of water. I open the Weber cover, lift the dutch oven lid with my tongs and set the lid on the grates. I carefully lift the dough out of the pie pan and drop it into the duch oven, using the square corners of the parchment as handles.

5. I immediately pour the water in between the dutch oven side and parchment (not on the dough) and replace the lid. Drop cover on grill.

6. Reduce middle burner to "low", and watch temp. Once temp returns to 450, reduce burners outer burners to med/low. you want temp to stay under 500, but not drop below 450.

7. After about 20 minutes remove lid and check bottom of bread for burning. It should have a few black speckles, but nothing seriously burned. TURN BREAD OVER, do not replace dutch oven lid, and reduce all burners to "low". Close grill cover and bake until bread sounds hollow when tapped, approximately 20 more minutes.

This is an unorthodox method, and I admit that turning the bread over reduces the final height of the loaf, but the results are beautiful and flavor is incredible. I host a weekly potluck for 10-15 friends and they RAVE about this bread! I've tried tiles under the dutch oven to slow the browning/burning, but I didn't get results as dramatic and flavorful.

GrapevineTXoldaccount's picture
GrapevineTXolda...

The temp read 425 when I opened it, and it dropped quickly, down to 350 as I closed the lid.  (This was from attempt #3 over the weekend...I made a 75% WW sourdough.  My rise wasn't great, but the flavor and crumb are wonderful).

 

Debi18's picture
Debi18

I just came upon this website looking for a recipe and found all the comments about baking bread on the grill.  I just bought a gift for a friend who loves to cook & grill.  It's a plate that you put on a grill that allows you to bake breads and cookies (I have a sweet tooth) and he swears by it.  I purchased it on-line from grillinnovations.com.  I haven't tried cooking on it myself (I stick to inside cooking) but he loves it.  From what he tells me it sounds much easier than the ways you've been doing it.

Debi

shericyng's picture
shericyng

sheri I have also been experimenting w/ baking on my gas grill.....great success w/ pizza. I actually bought fire brick splits to use as my "stone".  With such success decided to try mt ciabatta outside. The first time burned the bottum w/ the parchment being stuck on it forever...don't laugh but I actually took a power sander and got the burned bottum off! The bread was fabulous...that great crusty outside and chewy large crumb inside.....never being one to accept defeat my 2nd try I put the fire splits on a rack on top of a few splits (trying to get my stone higher off the grill) and turned the heat down to medium. Again after 15 min. the bottum was looking burned so I decided to save my hard work and finished baking it in the oven....which defeats the purpose....3rd try  bought a grill surface thermomiter and doubled the distance from the grill rack plus lowered the temp to low (even for the preheat phase)  The therm. did read almost 450 when I put slide the bread on which is the temp I put the oven on. Can I just say say PERFECTION...did one loaf in the oven at the same time and there is no differance . I am thrilled as is my husband who can rest!!! What to try out there next....has anyone baked wheat bread in a loaf pan on the grill ????

ejm's picture
ejm

This is so fantastic. While we've successfully done pizza, pita, naan on the barbecue, we haven't had the nerve to try baking a loaf! I'll have to reread what you wrote AND send a link to this page to my husband (who operates the bbq). We have to try this! 

-Elizabeth

P.S. I'm blushing as I type the following; I don't even know how to turn the bbq on....  

ejm's picture
ejm

Excuse me for appearing to reply to myself.

We still haven't baked a loaf of bread in the barbecue, but we did bake hamburger buns. They were fantastic - we think they were even better than hamburger buns made in the oven.

Thank you for the inspiration.

-Elizabeth 

Here is the link: hamburger buns baked on the barbecue

 (I'm still blushing; I haven't yet learned how to turn on the barbecue. I did do everything else to prepare the buns though. :-))

gypsywoman's picture
gypsywoman

Hi...I just read your post and am so happy to hear you can actually bake bread in a gas grill.  Perhaps people have been for sometime but this is all new to me.  I live in Decatur and was wondering if you are baking bread on your grill and could you give me a hands-on lesson...since I live so close to you.


 


If that is not possible, can you send me instructions if you have them prepared so that I may try this myself?


 


Thanks and I'm so happy to have found this site!


Gypsywoman

midwest baker's picture
midwest baker

After I read this post, I started wondering about trying the stone on the grill. My grill is too small for my rectangular stone so I bought a 13 inch thinner stone at Target ($14). I have read that the stone gets too hot so I thought I would put some air space under it. To this end, I bought a 12" aluminum foil pizza pan (3 for $2). I had a small round cooling rack to elevate the stone over the pan. It seemed to work really well. The pizza was great. The only problem I had was the stone not being hot enough if I had just taken one pizza off and put another on right away. If I waited 10 minutes then they came out perfectly. This really draws out dinner since I need to make 5 to feed everyone. Next time I will try removing the cooling rack and just letting the stone basically crush the foil pan. I would be counting on the reflectivity of the foil to keep the stone from overheating since there would be no air space. It just might work. I may also try putting the cheese on after the pizza has half cooked to keep it from browning so much. Here are the pics. The last one is showing the bottom of the pizza. This one was perfect because I let the stone heat back up for 10 minutes between pizzas. The others were soft on the bottom. Any other suggestions? Btw, the dough recipe is Reinhart's Neopolitan pizza dough from "Artisan Breads Everyday". I highly recommend it. I want to try bread on the grill once I get the pizza figured out. Hope this spurs some conversation and ideas.


Mary


ejm's picture
ejm

We haven't noticed our thin pizza stone gets too hot - we put it directly on the grill. But now I want to try this rack idea anyway.


But there are only two of us so we are not baking more than one pizza at a time.


 To reduce the number of times you have to cook the pizza, why not make larger pizzas and dress them in halves if you are making different kinds?


For our pizzas, we stretch the dough so it basically fits the stone (the size of the one on the pizza stone box).


-Elizabeth

midwest baker's picture
midwest baker

Of course! Make bigger pizzas, dah! We usually let everyone make their own pizza (kids love that) but we could double up. Thanks.


The reason I put the foil and rack underneath is because I read so many comments about the stone getting too hot and burning the pizza to a crisp. Maybe they preheated too long. Perhaps I should try it without anything underneath.


At any rate, I wonder what a chunk of cherry or maple thrown in the fire would do. Next summer, I'll have this all figured out. Thanks, Elizabeth!


Mary

ejm's picture
ejm

Glad to be of service, Mary.


Oooh, I like your idea of putting a little wood in to mimic a woodfire oven. We'll have to try that!


-Elizabeth

Spitfire83052's picture
Spitfire83052

To the "expense" blog, it might be a bit more expensive, but just think if we go off the electrical grid, and the stores are empty, we still have the supplies to cook food and make bread.. that's why I want to learn, to be ready for anything.