"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Monday 31 January 2011

The ultimate solar bread recipe

Oh, my goodness - I am sooooooooo excited.  I have the ultimate bread recipe for a solar oven.

To see what I am talking about - here is a photo of it - actually here is a photo of three loaves from one recipe.

L - R : BBQ grill, normal loaf pan, cast iron loaf pan

I have been trying various recipes - but I have been trying one loaf / day at a time.  Today I made a recipe that makes three loaves - so I thought, why not try and cook them in different containers.

Which I did.

One of the loaves I cooked on our BBQ grill, in a normal loaf pan.  30 minutes later - cooked and yummy looking.

My other two loaves I cooked in the solar oven.

Number 2 (on the left of the picture) was cooked in a normal loaf pan with another pan inverted on top of it.  Number 3 was cooked in my cast iron loaf pan, with the lid on for the first 20 minutes - then I though about it and quickly removed the lid and loosely covered it with a piece of black silicone baking sheet.  Judging by the BBQ grill cooked loaf it would need space to rise - hindsight showed the lid would certainly have restricted it!

A stitch in time, saves nine - jam cooking
and jars / lids sterilizing simultaneously

Naturally, RMan could barely wait the 40 minutes after the first loaf was finished cooking to have a slice - which he did, dolloping home made solar preserved plum jam!

All that lovely juice gathered safely in the botttom of the
roasting tray - it can't dry out or evapourate because the
heat isn't coming from the bottom like a normal oven :-)

And, yesterday I cooked a whole chicken - but this time instead of just placing it inside the pot to cook, I lifted it off the base with a roasting grid, and turned the chicken upside down - that way the juices would baste the breasts as they dripped past.  Delicious.

Tonight - chicken breasts wrapped in bacon - stuffed with solar dried tomatoes from the garden.  With solar baked potatoes.  And a fresh garden salad.

Anyway - you decide - which loaf would you like to eat?

If you click on the photo you'll see the texture of the bread better.

I'm obviously as bad as RMan - I couldn't wait until
I was finished taking photo's to have a taste too :-)
This recipe, although it is a bit of work, has created the perfect solar oven bread.  I am a very happy little puppy :-) 

Is there no one out there who would like me to try and convert their favourite recipe to a solar oven one?


  1. I tired a simliar experiment as once I baked a loaf in the gas oven and the same recipe in the solar oven. There was very little difference. It was amazing. Now what would I like to see converted...hummm. I have not had the best of luck with potato recipes. mine always come out rubbery and a bit on the grey side. I am not sure what I am doing wrong. And when I try to bake them whole they do not seem to cook through. They are on the hard side not light and fluffy. Should I cover them?

  2. Jane - I made mash potatoes in the solar oven last weekend. Peeled, halved and placed in a pot with boiling water and cooked for 1 1/2 - 2 hours - perfect.

    Perhaps your whole potaotes were not cooked long enough? With things as dense as potatoes, you would have to cook them in the middle of the day - mid to late afternoon would probably not be hot enough. Cook at midday and then immdiately place in a hotbox to keep them warm until you need them.

  3. Mashed potatoes! I never would have thought of that. You are full of great ideas Dani.

  4. Dani...your bread looks wonderful! ALL of them! Ok, so does that chicken and plum jam :P I'm so grateful for you posting these photos of what you're doing. It's gray, dreary and frozen over here...your photos are so exciting and I can't wait to try these things!
    Are you going to share this perfect bread recipe or saving it for your book?

  5. all three look great! I've been doing a little research into solar cooking .. we're about 48 degrees north of the equator .. but I hear it can be done .. especially in the summer months.

  6. Thank you Ezrablu - yes, recipe is for the book - and oh boy, it's a winner LOL.

    So glad my photo's are lifting your spirits - I'm going to be looking at yours when we have winter...

  7. Everyone's making bread! That does it, I'm making bread today too! Nummmmmm!

  8. After looking at all that yummy food I feel like imitating a hobbit and having second breakfast! Can you do open pies (tarts) in a solar oven or would the shortcrust pastry go weird? Would you have to blind bake the pastry before filling?

  9. Mrs Mac - as long as your cooker is angled to the sun, you should be able to cook. But make sure you have an insulated solar oven. Read somewhere of soemone who was cooking bread when there was snow on the ground, but it was sunny.

    Heidi - bread and water - if it's good bread (and this recipe is just about the best I have found) then I could live off that for quite a while if I had to :-)

    Robyn - I don't think pastry will work (I haven't personally tried it) This would be due to the fact that the heat in a solar oven is damp (from all the trapped steam that the cooking food produces) unlike a conventional oven which is a dry heat from an element.

  10. I've just come across your blog through Brydie's site.., and was intrigued. I don't believe I've ever seen a solar oven, let alone someone who seems to know how to use it as impressively.., I'll be back, love this stuff.

  11. Anna - welcome, and thank you for your kind words :-)

  12. Dani they look fantastic! Well done, no wonder you were so pleased with them.

  13. CHFG - Welcome - I am very chuffed with the end result. Always nice when you finally find THE recipe :-)

  14. It really is amazing how many things you are able to use the solar oven for. I wonder if it would heat up enough for us during mid summer when we actually have hot sunny weather. Does it have to be hot outside or just sunny for this oven to capture enough heat to cook with?

  15. Wow, your bread looks fantastic. Excellent idea to experiment like that. I am taking notes on your solar cooking!

  16. Mr H - it doesn't have to be hot, per se, but with that said, the most important aspect for using a solar oven is the amount of UV.

    Also, the time of year CAN create variances in cooking time and the temperatures that you attain in the oven.

    To find out what the predicted UV is for the US of A go to: http://www.epa.gov/sunwise/uvindex.html

    For South African index levels, go to http://www.accuweather.com/en-us/za/eastern-cape/pretoria/uv-index.aspx

    Leigh - recipe book is on the way... please be patient :-)

  17. I guess I won't be doing any cooking right now as our UV rating is 1. It will be very interesting to see what it goes up to this summer.

  18. The loaves in the picture look so good.
    I love the smell of freshly baked bread and the crackling sound it makes when it is cut. I would love to bake my own loaves.

  19. Vinitha - unfortunately the gorgeous smell of baking bread escapes into the air outside. But the taste is divine - and the toast is even better :-)

  20. Here's an idea for those less than ideal days.


    Turned my Sun Oven into a year round alternative. Aluminum Foil tape and cardboard.

  21. BxCapricorn - welcome. Very good idea.

    However, here in Cape Town in summer, we have what is called the South Easter - a wind which reaches gale force on occasion. Picture it - gorgeous sunny day and hectic wind.

    In winter - I have a south facing house, which received very little sun, which does not make it condusive to solar cooking LOL

    Reckon your idea would work for me on the farm...


Thank you for taking the time to comment - it makes my day and removes the "loneliness' of sitting at my screen blogging supposedly to myself ;) I try and reply as quickly as possible so please forgive me if sometimes my response is delayed.