Introduction: Solar Ground and Baked Whole Wheat Bread.

How to make solar bread.

Step 1:

Here's how I make my whole wheat bread. It's a quite a bit heavier than most breads, so often I add a few cups of regular white flour to help it rise more.  But here is the basic recipe for just whole wheat.
First I grind the hard red winter wheatberries in my solar grain grinder.

Step 2:

This grinder I adapted from a standard Jupiter electric grinder, and along with a 45Watt solar panel, an old 24V slot machine motor, and a hand made adpater, the unit will put out enough flour in a sunny afternoon to make at least 3 good loaves.  Since the motor is rated at 24V, it will run all day on the 12V from the panel, and does not overheat.  Trying this on 24V will shorten the life of the motor when run for several hours at a time. Also, running at 12V is slow, so the grains do not heat up when grinding unlike some other more modern methods. I will be glad to do a post on how to build this if there is interest.

Step 3:

I feel that fresh grinding the grain ensures that the oils in the whole wheat do not have a chance to get rancid.  One reason companies sell white wheat flour is that the oils and goodies have been removed because they do tend to spoil quickly.  With fresh ground that doesn't happen, and I thnk it's a healthier bread.
To 4 cups of the flour, I stir in one tablespoon of salt, a tablespoon of sugar (though it really doesn't need it, but it helps the yeast) and one rounded teaspoon of yeast.  You can use regular bread yeast, or I have been lately using distillers yeast which I get from our local wine-supply shop for about $10 a pound.  Then add 4 cups of warm water and stir up well.  When it's sunny I can put the water into the solar oven for a few minutes to heat it up somewhat.  You don't want the water too hot, or it will kill the yeast.  Just enough so that your little finger feels a bit warm when you put it in the water.  You could use cold water, but it will take longer to rise.

Step 4:

I mix it all in a plastic bowl, as it seems the heat is retained longer, which helps the yeast rise faster. I cover it with a towel, and let it rise until at least double in volume.  This can take up to nearly a couple of hours, depending on the temperature.

Step 5:

After the dough has risen, then add 1/3 cup of oil and stir in 4 more cups of flour.  Then dump it out onto a good breadboard and start kneading the dough.  It will be quite sticky, so sprinkle more flour on top and under the dough and keep kneading.  Keep adding flour until the dough quits sticking to your hands, and you will soon find that the dough gets a certain 'feel' that is well, doughy, but not sticky. I generally knead the dough for about 10 minutes or more, until it feels just right.  You could use a bread mixer with a dough-hook, too if you don't want to put up with the goo.

Step 6:

If you add too much flour, the dough will tend to get a bit dry.  that just means your bread will be a little dry, but still yummy.  I like to get it to just past the sticky stage, but not too dry.
After the dough is done to your satisfaction, put a little oil in your bowl, and rub the ball of dough around to coat it.  Cover and let rise until doubled again.  Another hour or so.

Step 7:

After the second rising, get out your 3 bread pans, and oil them with a cube of butter.  I have tried oil, but the bread seems to stick sometimes, whereas if I use butter, it never sticks.
Punch down the dough 20 or 30 times to get the air out, knead it a little bit more, and then cut the dough into 3 equal parts. 

Step 8:

Shape each part into ovals, and put them into the 3 breadpans.  Mush them down and flatten them out. Cover with a towel and let rise, once more, until they are doubled in bulk. If you wish you can put a slice or two on the top of the loaves to allow some of the moisture to escape, but it works fine without that.

Step 9:

I bake the loaves two ways.  The first is to use our gas oven at about 360 degrees.  You can either preheat the oven or not, it doesn't seem to matter too much.  If not preheated, just add 15 minutes to the baking time.  You can check the bread after about 45 minutes.  Any sooner, I notice that often the bread will fall.
Sadly, this type of whole wheat bread does sometimes fall regardless of how careful you are, but even tho' it may look awful, it still is a very tasty bread, and does make wonderful toast.

Step 10:

The second way I bake it is to put out our commercial solar box oven, and let it heat up.  When the dough is ready, I carefully put the 3 laves in the oven and let the sun do all the work.  Solar cooked bread in a commercial oven takes a bit longer, say, an hour and a half.  This is because our solar oven has a hard time mainaining the 360 degrees, so I just let it bake longer.  You can pretty much tell it is getting close to done when the moisture is suddenly released, and the glass of the oven fogs up.

Step 11:

You can tell the bread is done, when you tap it with your fingernail and it sounds solid, and has a hard crust on the top.  Remove the loaves from the pan, and check the underside to see if it is fully done.  It should not be gooey or doughy.  If it is, pop back into the oven for another 10 minutes or so.
Put the loaves on a rack to let the air circulate around them, and TRY to wait until they are cooled down before cutting off a nice slice. Or set them sideways in the pans as shown...

Step 12:

This bread has no preservatives, so it will mold within a couple of days.  If you can't eat it by then, be sure to give a loaf or two to neighbors or friends.  If you store it in your refrigerator, it will lose some of its good taste, I've found, however it does store very well if you slice it, put it into a gallon sized baggie, and put it in your freezer.  It will keep its good taste frozen for many months.  Simply pull out a slice or two when you want toast, and pop them in the toaster.  Yumm.
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