I don't do heat! I get grumpy and tired when it is really hot outside. I am even worse when it is hot inside my house. It has been close to 100° for the last week or so and my air conditioner is on it's last leg. During the day my house temperature hovers around 75-76° and I do not want to turn on my oven. I am doing everything I can to keep my interior temperature down and a great way to do that is to cook outside. I am taking advantage of the hot temps and using my sun oven to cook our food. Saturday was another hot day and I decided to get a bunch of baking done. Usually I can control the weather by putting out my sun oven (it will get cloudy or storm, I swear!!) but it stayed sunny all day.
I started baking at about 10:00 in the morning and I made bread first. The trick to bread in the sun oven is to not let your bread raise too high before placing it in the oven. The bread will keep rising in the sun oven and then bake when the temperature goes back up. (the temp drops when you open the door) That rule works best if your sun oven isn't above 300°, but when I put my bread into the oven on Saturday it was 400°!! So my bread just cooked and didn't raise any higher like it usually does. The second trick is to lightly mist your bread with water BEFORE you put the bread into the oven. You will get a lovely brown crusted bread this way.
This is my bread after a half hour in the sun oven. If I had let my bread stay in a 400° oven inside it would have been burned, but the sun oven keeps it from burning. I also mist my bread with water after it comes out of the oven to keep the top crust soft. Next time I will let my bread raise a little longer before cooking, but this loaf was still yummy! I used THIS recipe to make my bread.
Since I had the oven out and heated up I decided to keep baking. My kids love to eat Monkey Bars and I had several ripe bananas ready to use. These bars take minutes to put together and only 15 minutes in a regular oven. The original recipe uses a jelly roll pan but that obviously won't fit into the sun oven. I used 3 rectangular pans and stacked them. The sun oven is like a convection oven, it cooks evenly no matter what part of the food is in the sun. All 3 pans were cooked and done at the same time. I actually took a shower after putting these in the oven, so I know they were in there for at least a half hour. (my shower wasn't a half hour but using the hair dryer etc. takes 30 minutes :)
The pans fit just like this inside the oven. I bought the 2 lighter pans at the Dollar Tree store (they are Wilton baking pans) and the darker pan from the Honeyville SLC retail store. The Dollar store also sells a set of smaller muffin pans (holds 6 muffins) that I stack too. I used THIS recipe for the Monkey Bars.
Even though I got the Sun Oven to have for emergencies, it really is such a life saver during the hot summers in Utah. It also saves me money on our electric bill. I also know how to use my Sun Oven and all the little tricks and tips to making food work out. Don't count on knowing how to use a sun oven if there is an emergency. If you own one, pull it out, use it!!!