Solar Oven Corn Bread

Solar Oven Corn Bread

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here is the beauty of solar oven cooking: as long as it is sunny, with very few clouds, and you aim the solar oven at the sun, it should work. I was really
Photo Credit: Mandy

Guest Post: Mandy.  Tips on using a solar oven, with a great cornbread recipe!

A couple of weeks ago, the first day of summer to be exact, was another record breaking “heat advisory” day.

You see, here in Phoenix, if the temperature is forecasted to be over 110 degrees, they issue a heat advisory. I suppose to advise us that it is going to be hot, just in case we weren’t aware of the fact that we live in a desert and it’s summertime.

It always makes me laugh to look at any parking lot during June, July, or August.  People, myself included, will park far away from the entrance of a store if there is a parking spot open with even the slightest amount of shade from the twiggy, tiny-leafed, rather short Palo Verde trees sprinkled around the lot. When it comes to braving the inferno known as your car and touching the molten lava of a steering wheel, even a few splotches of shade can help.

This particular heat advisory came as a part of a nearly week long series of heat advisories, in which we had already seen 117 degrees. And being the first official day of summer, it seemed like a good day to do something I had never done before:

I made cornbread – in a solar oven.

Photo Credit: Mandy
Photo Credit: Mandy

I have the Solavore Sport Solar Oven.

When I was a kid, every summer my mom helped us make solar ovens out of shoe boxes, and we would cook s’mores, banana boats, and once or twice, I think we roasted a hot dog. Now, I help my kids do the same thing. Since we were trying out their solar ovens made from pizza boxes as part of our Summer Science unit, I thought I would get out my big solar oven and try it for the first time.

Having one for a few years, I had never tried making anything in it.

I was absolutely shocked two hours later when I pulled out two beautiful pans of corn bread. I don’t know why I was so surprised that it worked so well, but I was.

Not knowing what I was doing, I think made me afraid that I would somehow do it wrong.

But here is the beauty of solar oven cooking:

as long as it is sunny, with very few clouds, and you aim the solar oven at the sun, it should work.

Nervous about aiming it at the sun correctly, I researched a bit.  Here is a tip I read somewhere (I was doing a lot of reading trying to figure it out, so I’m not sure where I read it).

Point the slow cooker towards the sun, and then try to angle it so that the shadow it casts on the sides are are pretty even.

The size of the long shadow it makes will depend on the time of day, (i.e.: hardly any when the sun is directly over head, and longer when the sun is lower in the sky), but the long shadow should always be behind the solar oven so that the clear front has no or very little shadow.

Check the alignment every hour or so, you should be good. I was nervous, so I adjusted it every 30 minutes.

A set of reflector panels can also help increase the oven’s temperature, but based on my solar oven’s instruction manual’s recommendation.  Being in 117 degree Arizona, I didn’t need them.  The oven got hot enough simply due to location, time of day, and very clear skies.

Another tip I picked up is to start sooner in the day so that you have enough time for things to cook.

Baked goods, like bread, should be in the oven by 10 am or so to take advantage of the sun rising in the sky, generating higher temperatures as the Noon hour approaches.

The cornbread turned out awesome, and my family was quite impressed. 

But the best part about using the solar oven definitely had to be the fact that it didn’t heat up my kitchen!

Not a bad deal on a record breaking first day of summer.

The Corn Bread recipe below I developed a few years ago. With specific requirements I wanted met, and after a lot of testing, I am pleased with it. Because it is 100% whole grain, it is more crumbly than a box-mix corn bread, but tastes a lot better.

Whole Grain Cornbread

Photo Credit: Mandy
Photo Credit: Mandy

Ingredients:

  • 2 C. Cornmeal (10 oz)
  • 2 ½ C. Whole Wheat Flour, finely ground (12 ½ oz)
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 C. Honey
  • 1 C. Milk
  • ½ tsp. Vanilla
  • 3 Eggs
  • ½ C. Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt
  • ½ C. Olive Oil

Instructions:

Whisk together dry ingredients.  Add wet ingredients, and mix just until incorporated.  Bake in a greased 9×13 pan.  325° for 32 minutes.

For a solar oven, cover and bake in two greased 9” round pots for approximately 1 ½ hours.

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Thank you Mandy!  Wow!  I have never used a solar oven before, and wish we had enough sun in Nebraska for them to work so well.

Please comment below and share some things YOU have done to help ends meet, or how some of these ideas have helped you.

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