It is summer time, and for those of you like me – air conditioning is not a luxury available. So, when it is 90° F and 90% humidity turning on the oven is NOT an option. Unfortunately that means for a family that goes through 2-4 loaves of bread in a week we must rely on the neighborhood market. Doing so gives us 2 choices – cheap sandwich bread with no flavor or expensive, whole wheat locally baked bread that costs an arm and a leg. Being that I am truly attached to both my arms and legs and I don’t like the cheap bread I was left looking for a solution, and I found it in the back of the shed.
After contemplating a trip to the store for ANOTHER loaf of bread I decided to haul out the smoker and give it a try. From past experience with the smoker I knew it would take a while for it to be ready to ‘bake’. Before I began my bread dough I lit my charcoal. This gave it a chance to get burnt down nicely creating the steady, even heating we all look for in our ovens.
Once my charcoal was lit I mixed up one of my favorite bread recipes. I cheated this time by using my bread machine to make the dough. Normally I’d make several loaves at one time and I’d use my stand mixer to do so. Being that this was an experiment I decided to just make one loaf.
Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread1 egg +enough water to equal 1 1/4 C 3 Tbsp Oil 1/4 Honey 2 tsp Salt 2 C Whole Wheat Flour 2 C Bread Flour 2 tsp Rapid Rise or Bread Machine Yeast Add in that order to your bread machine or mixing bowl and continue as you would with any other bread.
While my bread was rising I move on to preparing my ‘oven’. As fate would have it, my pizza stone fit perfectly on the grill rack. I decided to use that to help stabilize the heat in the smoker while the bread baked. I did add the water pan in my smoker because in a traditional oven a little humidity can help create a wonderful crust. With that line of thinking I added the water pan and filled it with HOT water (adding cold water will absorb a lot of heat that you want captured in your ‘oven’) then placed my pizza stone on the grill rack. Don’t have a pizza stone? Add a few bricks or patio blocks. They will do the same thing by trapping the heat as it is produced and releasing it slowly.
After the rising, shaping and proofing your bread dough place it on the pizza stone in your smoker, cover it up and LEAVE IT ALONE!!! Remember, every time you lift the lid on your smoker you lose valuable heat. Because my recipe called for baking at 350°F for 30-35 minutes I decided to start at 1 hour of baking time. In case you didn’t know it, the ‘ideal’ temp for smoking meat is about 250°F.
After an hour I checked the progress of my bread. I was looking nice but the top had just split and was a little under cooked in the center. I put the lid on and left it again for another 30 minutes.
When the time was up I removed the loaf from the smoker and pulled it out of the bread pan. Due to time constraints I broke the cardinal bread cutting rule – I cut it within minutes of pulling it out of the oven!!! I know, grandmothers all around the world are shaking their fingers at me.
The bread did have just a hint of smokey flavor. It adds a nice element to a PB&J sandwich, and nicely complements ham and cheese or salami. I am waiting for a trip to the market to make a sandwich with fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.