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Baking Bread in Heat Waves

Jul 31, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose

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Tomorrow's August and if it's as hot or hotter than July has been how are you going to feel justified heating up the whole house in order to have home-made bread for your height of the season tomato sandwiches or BLT's?

I've been meaning to try this technique for years and this current intense heat-wave finally spurred me into action. I was stunned and delighted by how easy it was to transition from indoor oven to outdoor gas grill.

I have a Weber Summit with 4 burners which makes it possible to turn off the two center burners to avoid blackening the bottom of the bread. I'm reasonably sure that this method can be adapted to any 4 burner gas grill but have my doubts about the charcoal grill as it's close to impossible to get hot enough to make this bread effectively.

Here's the basic method using my adaptation of the "No Knead Bread" Here's the link to the recipe if you haven't already printed or saved it.

Use heavy duty pot holders, preferably mitten-type that protect your lower arms.

Place the covered cast iron Dutch oven on the grill racks and preheat it along with the grill for 20 minutes. The grill will be about 550˚F/285˚C after 10 minutes but the Dutch oven requires an additional 10 minutes. Set a trivet or heavy duty rack alongside the grill.

Remove the pot lid (I set it back on the grill). Transfer the Dutch oven to the trivet and close the grill. Allow the Dutch oven to sit for about 1 minute to cool slightly. (I checked with my infra-red thermometer and it was 475˚F/245˚C.) Transfer the bread to the Dutch oven, cover with the lid, and set it back on the grill racks in the center of the grill. Work quickly so the heat does not escape or dissipate. Turn off the two center burners.

Bake as usual for 20 minutes. (My grill with center burners off maintained 450˚F/230˚C during this 20 minute period.) Remove the pot lid and continue baking for 10 minutes. (The grill was now 440˚F/225˚C.) Remove the bread from the Dutch oven and set it directly onto the grill racks in the center of the grill. Continue baking for 10 minutes. Turn off the burners and allow the bread to sit in the covered grill for 10 minutes.

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This basic technique will probably work with a charcoal grill for breads that require lower temperatures. If you've already tried baking bread in your grill do report back!

Comments

hands down the prociutto bread but if you have an early printing of the bread bible be sure to check the errata/corrections page as it's so much more delicious with the extra soprasetta sausage!

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Agreed. I've only baked a few times, but the breadmaking experience came in handy when I tried my hand at beer brewing.

Also, I should note that the grill comments are from experience gained by grilling/roasting--I've not yet attempted baking bread on the grill.

I'm generally a fan of charcoal and the smoky flavor it gives the food (especially with the top vent nearly closed). I wonder which of your bread recipes would go best with the addition of some smokiness?

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Rick, been a cake person and among many other food and things nut, i find bread making as one of the most spectacular activities to share. watching with your own eyes how flour and water and a few other simple ingredients turn into bread feels like making magic.

i find Bread Bible the perfect gift, for bakers and not, even for people that doesn't cook. it is almost like a fun fact book, a history book, one can find what is on each bread one buys or makes.

good job!

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You know, it may have been in I'm Just Here For the Food. Unfortunately my books are packed away or I'd go check.

I've given The Bread Bible as a gift at least 3 times, and everyone has loved it.

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thanks rick! did alton brown mention the bread bible in "bear for your kitchen?"

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Hi Rose,

To build on Hector's comment, creative use of aluminum foil or disposable pans can help form a ring of charcoal in a Weber kettle grill. Also, you can get natural lump charcoal, which burns MUCH hotter than briquettes if you need more heat. The downside is that lump charcoal burns much faster than briquettes, so you may need to either put more in to start with or add charcoal midway (boo!). You might also have to throttle the airflow to get the temperature back down to reasonable with lump charcoal.

I bought The Bread Bible after reading Alton Brown's Gear For Your Kitchen and as an amateur baker, I love it!

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mat, if you add more flour it will be a drier and denser bread. i would try to get some vital wheat gluten to strengthen the flour you are using.

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Dear Rose,

This is a more general question about baking bread by recipes in your book. I am from Europe and unfortunately your tips about flour brands don't help much. I have to choose from either "soft" (cake) flour, "hard" (bread) flour and "universal" one. I follow your suggestions and use either bread or universal flour.
However, flours differ. When I was making the rosemary focaccia, the dough did not form a ball but remained quite liquid. Similar with bagels - the dough was very (too much) sticky when I used amounts of flour from the recipe.
Is it OK to add more flour in cases like these; at the end of mixing time when you realize that the dough consistency does not match your description? If so, how much additional mixing (before adding even more flour if needed)?

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This may horrify some, but I try to bake in the crockpot. Its not the same of course, The bread is steamed, but you can always toast it later. Its worth trying.

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I cook in Dutch ovens often and have used mine on the grill several times to make pineapple upside-down cake and other cobblers. Haven't tried bread yet, but will try this!

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in ans. to the question does it change the flavor of the bread: i'm not really sure. it seemed more delicious than ever but i'd have to do a side-by-side comparison. i'm just happy it was a no compromise result!

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I always bake in the summer but adjust the timing to accommodate. With insulated drapes and windows shut during the hottest part of the day and then opened at night to admit the cool air, I plan my baking for the evening hours. The bread is usually placed in the oven an hour or so before I would normally retire; once baked it is removed to the rack to cool and I go to bed. A side benefit is that it cools while I sleep and no temptation to cut into the thing while hot.

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what lovely stories paul! great to know.

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Dear Rose, I have Great Grandmas Dutch oven, with legs (spider style), bale wire handle and rim around the top to hold coals. It works very well in a barbecue (although the REAL way is in a hole in the ground): you put coals on top also. One thing: You MUST always use a trivet and cook breads and/or cakes in separate pan on top the trivet. Out camping, back in the 1960s, my Grandma (born 1882) could cook any pie or cake (including Angel Food Cake (From scratch: she beat the egg whites four at a time in a wide soup plate with an ordinary fork) for my birthday request)) at 10,000 feet! Also works very well in the fireplace in the winter: A lot of fun! Thanks for letting people know that bakers baked and cooks cooked for tens of thousands of years with very simple tools! We put pot roast/veggies, BTW in the Dutch oven and went fishing for the day (cover with old sheet of tin, in case of rain) and came home to camp to a hot dinner, too. Paul

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This is a beautiful loaf. I can't bear to use my oven in the summer -- Mexican summers can be severe. But I use my bread machine all the time. Of course, the shape is always the same, but it produces very nice loaves without heating up the house.

During our years of living on a sailboat, I regularly baked bread on our marine gas grill in the cockpit. The grill had a huge, domed lid. I set 3 pizza pans on the grill -- they had space between them and served as a spacer to moderate the heat. I also baked pizzas the same way. They were dynamite, and their aroma always attracted the attention of fellow boaters in the marina.

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That is true Hector but I've never gotten a charcoal fire much hotter than 350F.

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To prevent bottom burning with charcoal, after the preheating (with the coals in the center), split the coals in half and move each half to opposite sides of the grill. This is called by Weber as indirect grilling.

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Hi Rose,

I live in Canada, and I was reading Rose's Heavenly Cakes, and found that there was a suggestion of using a type of flour called "WONDRA FLOUR". Where can I buy that flour? Whats so special about it?

Thanks,
Alice

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Thanks so much for posting this! I was directed here by someone on The Fresh Loaf forum, after asking a question about how to bake bread in a large toaster oven

I will be moving to Los Angeles for 1 year, and the house I rented doesn't have a stove or oven - only a grill. I bake sourdough breads almost every weekend, and will be definitely adapting your method to my recipes

Thank you!

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Thanks Rose for sharing! Two of my friends went on a half year camping trip around the country last year, and she made bread in a dutch oven over a camp fire all the time. In order to get heat on the top of the bread they put coals on the lid of the dutch oven, and the pictures I saw were of perfectly good bread loaves!

I've never ventured past pizza on the grill.

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Neat technique! Does it change the flavor of the bread?

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