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First outdoor bread


I was itchin’ to try the gas grill as a bread oven, so I made a loaf this afternoon. It was not perfect, but baking in the grill seems entirely manageable. And after some Googling, I see that plenty of other people also use grills for baking bread.

To add a margin of safety, this loaf was only about a third stone-ground whole wheat and two-thirds unbleached white flour. It was a mixture of sourdough starter and ordinary yeast, which has become a habit with me mostly because I like the taste. There was not much oven spring, but I have never been good at oven spring. Such oven spring as I got was not at the top of the loaf, where I had slashed an X, but around the edges.

My grill has a warming shelf several inches above the grill surface. I set my cast iron skillet on the shelf. To try to get some steam into the oven, I put a pan of water on the grill and let it come to a boil before I put the bread in the oven. The bread was still slightly too done on the bottom because of the high flame down there, but that was not a big deal. It didn’t burn.

The best part of this bread was its shatter-y crust — not a bit tough. There was a very slight whiff of flame in the taste, but not much. Here are some observations and some notes for the next attempts:

— Put the pan of water directly under the bread pan to keep the bottom crust from getting overdone. Use less water.

— Get a smoker basket and give the bread a teensy touch of hickory smoke.

— Throw an onion on the grill for the last ten minutes or so to give the crust a little roasted onion taste.

Overall, it was a fine little loaf of bread with a superb crust. I think there are two keys to getting a good crust. One, don’t use any oil at all on the dough either while it’s rising, or in the pan. Use only flour to prevent sticking. And two, get as much steam into the oven as you can. Steam is always the biggest challenge.

One Comment

  1. Jo wrote:

    Fine looking bread. My opinion is one can be more self-sufficient with an outdoor source for cooking. A motherly word of caution – check for gas leaks when using an older propane cylinder. Using soapy water around fittings is a good test. My niece received treatment at the burn center in Augusta, GA & over half their patients sustained their injuries from propane grills. Just motherly concern. Almost all grill users do fine. Enjoy yours too. Really enjoy your posts so much.

    Saturday, June 20, 2015 at 12:02 am | Permalink

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