A couple years ago I talked about my experience with baking bread in an outdoor grill. One solution to baking yourself out of your own home during the hot summer months. Recently, Breadtopia reader Marianne Preston posted a photo of her success using a Big Green Egg to accomplish the same thing. Since the bread looked so good, I asked her if she wouldn’t mind ellaborating on how she did it. Read her account below.
Thanks very much, Marianne. Great job!
My bread baking experiment in the Big Green Egg was only my 4th attempt at using the Egg. We had just bought it the previous week. It’s is pretty easy to regulate the temperature in the Egg once the Egg’s ceramic has had a chance to reach the appropriate cooking temperature. I’ve found that it’s best to start to close off the air entering the bottom damper door and the air going out the daisy wheel top as the cooker is approaching the correct temperature. It’s harder to reduce the temperature because the ceramic holds the heat so well. Even when you open the Egg to put in the bread or to remove the cloche, the temperature returns to baking temperatures within a couple of minutes (assuming the Egg is properly preheated)–without adjusting the damper door or the daisy wheel.
When baking in the Egg, it’s recommended that you use the Egg’s plate setter (http://www.biggreenegg.com/setters.html) or make your own version using firebrick. Here’s a link to the firebrick configuration:
The firebrick acts as an additional heat sink as well as a shield for the pizza stone which is placed on top of the brick. If you look closely at the picture I posted you might be able to see the way I had it set up.
I was aiming for a temperature of about 500F. I made the mistake of increasing the airflow after I loaded the bread into the Egg and the temperature crept up to 550F. Should have left it alone. I used no-stick aluminum foil under the loaf (Alcan Slide) instead of parchment paper. After 20 minutes, I removed my terracotta pot as well as the foil and baked for an additional 15 minutes. I should point out that this was a recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and was a smaller loaf than the ones you usually post on your site. I wanted to start “small”. :) The loaf was great although the bottom did get a little too dark, but I managed to scrape off the burnt parts. Next time I will try to leave the aluminum foil in place and/or try to keep the temperature at 500F.
From my experiment it looks like you bake the bread at the same temperatures as in the kitchen oven for about the same length of time. And, you pre-heat the pizza stone for about 30 minutes. Obviously, using a live fire is a little less precise and requires a little more attention, but I think it’s well worth the effort. I’ll certainly do it again.