We've spent this summer experimenting with alternative cooking methods and we've learned a lot. Today, I would like to concentrate on baking with a solar oven. I love to bake! I think it must be genetic as my Grandmother had her own bakery at one time and she taught her joy to me. But baking in a solar oven is a little different.
The how-to books on solar cooking all claim that it is as easy to cook with a solar oven as a stove. Well, if it were truly that easy, why would cook stoves be the norm all over the world? However, it does have a lot of advantages. Free fuel and a cool kitchen are not to be sneered at. There are a few drawbacks though. For proper baking (not emergency I'll take whatever I can get kind) you need to have good control of the temperature. Especially when baking cookies. Despite what many claim, the angle of the sun does make a difference for this type of baking. I have found that here, even on the hottest summer days when the sun is right overhead and no clouds, that I need to bake in the middle of the day. After 3:00 pm, forget it. An inferior product will result later in the day or too early in the morning. This info is important when planning your evening meal. I've discovered that it is best to have our main hot meal at noon as it is hard to have properly prepared hot food after that magical 3:00 pm. The sun angle (despite our adjusting of the oven) just doesn't allow the food to get hot enough unless it has had that magical middle of the day. In fact, the oven begins to cool and so does the food.
It also helps to allow the oven to heat 25 degrees above the baking temperature you need as you will lose about 25 degrees when you open the door to place the food inside. No matter how fast we are, we always lose 20-25 degrees.
By following this advice though, we are able to bake cookies at the right temperature for the same amount of time as in the kitchen oven. I love that free fuel. Have fun and experiment with some cookies.