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Heartsurgeon

Baking on the grill - a revelation!

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I bought a gas grill this year so I could bake bread at Burning Man 2011. It worked so well, I now actually prefer using it over my convection oven (Thermador)!

If you have a grill, you need to try this.

If you don't have a grill - get one, you'll never regret it.

The advantages include

quicker pre-heat

no clean up

higher temperatures (especially when making pizza)

no heating up the house

I've included some pictures to explain the technique.

My bread is a variation of the no-knead formula (see the artisan bread in under 5 minutes thread).

Here's my current bread formula:

12 gms yeast

20 gms salt

20 gms malt powder

100 gms whole wheat flour (KA)

900 gms all purpose flour (KA)

800 gms water

mix, let rise 2-4 hours, retard in the fridge prior to use.

to bake, form mini-boules (about 75 gms each, or 24 per batch)

let rise 2 hours

slash just prior to baking

bake at 450 degrees on a baking stone, with 2 cups of water added to a tray beneath the baking stone

15-30 minutes depending on oven characteristics.

I've included a pictorial guide to the grill part of the baking (a pictorial guide to the mini-boules in available in the artisan bread thread mentioned above).

gas-grill.jpg

I use a four burner gas grill with a tall enclosure. The grill is tall enough i can actually stack multiple baking sheets inside when I'm baking in volume.

pan-with-stone.jpg

I bake on a pizza stone, elevated above a aluminum sheet pan. This allows for baking with indirect heat (rather than actually grilling the bread), and generation of steam.

pan-with-brackets.jpg

The aluminum pan isolates the baking stone from the grill (indirect heat), and adding water to the aluminum pan generates steam during the baking process. A standard aluminum baking sheet is used, along with some aluminum brackets to hold the pizza stone.

alluminum-bracket.jpg

The aluminum brackets (Sklip Sheet Pan Rack System) are key to this set up. They are relatively cheap, and allow you to stack as many items as you want! Ordered them online from JB Prince.

grill-baked-bread.jpg

With this system, you can bake bread, exactly the same as you would in a regular oven, with the bread baked on a stone, above a source of steam.

adding-water-to-pan.jpg

Here's how to add water to the tray beneath the pizza stone. I do this at the beginning of the baking process to aid in crust formation. Obviously the bread is already baked in the picture (I forgot to take the picture earlier in the process).

temp-dial-450.jpg

Through real-time manipulation of the heating knobs, the grill temperature can be controlled with remarkable precision, albeit manually. I actually verified the built in grill temp probe, with my own temp probes, before I started using it.

grill-baked-bread.jpg

The results are really quite good, you may encounter some hot spots in the grill, but the grill actually is a convection oven with relatively uniform baking characteristics.

Next up, I'll take some pics of baking a pizza in this setup.

Pizza is amazing, because you can get the system heated up anywhere from 500-700 degrees, and it's totally different (better) than baking a pizza in a home oven at 450-500 degrees.

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I discovered the same thing when my oven went out on my Viking range several months ago. I did sourdough on a pizza stone elevated by a cake pan in my grill and the loaves came out perfectly baked. Instead of steaming, I paint water on the loaves before putting in the oven, then after 10 minutes, paint them again. It works as well as steaming. So if you are ever caught with no power or gas you can always have fresh baked bread in your grill.

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half sheet pan used.

the clips were designed to stack sheet pans, and can be used for many things.

it was serendipity that my pizza stone was stackable with these clips, as the pizza stone only matches the sheet pan in one dimension.

i use the same setup to cook pizzas on the stone. The level of the pizza stone ends up fairly close to the level of the built in temperature indicator.

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"Going to give it a try when the weather is nicer "

Why wait!

I've baked with the ambient temp in the 30's without problems.

It feels pretty fine when the bread comes out and you can bake yourself in the residual heat from the grill.

Granted, the grill might not perform great in windy cold conditions where it cannot reach temperature, but that hasn't happened to me yet.

Grilled a pizza last nite, the grill hit 550 degrees and the pizza was done in 10 minutes. It was in the 30's.

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I have baked bread and pizza before on a baking stone in the gas grill but both my tanks are empty and it is like 27º outside. Once I heated one side of the grill and not the other and the stone broke because it was heated unevenly. Your way should help keep that from happening again. BTW the brackets arrived today.

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I got multiple brackets...they actually are quite useful for baking in volume, they let you stack as many trays as your oven/grill will allow. Also, if you need to refridgerate food items on sheet pans, the brackets let you stuff more goodies into the fridge. It's a genius idea (the brackets), in my opinion.

The impetus for all this was trying to develop a way to cook bread daily for 20+ people in a remote setting.

I didn't want to work out a new way to bake bread on a grill, I wanted to recreate the way i baked bread at home, in the oven.

With this setup, you have indirect heat, you have a baking stone, and you have a place to generate steam.

I started out with the baking stone directly on the grill surface, and toyed with the idea of using a cast iron griddle off to the side, as a way to generate steam. The stone got much hotter than the ambient temp (due to direct heating), and I also worried about cracking the stone. The griddle off to the side produced plenty of steam when i threw water in it, but the steam was not uniformily distributed (I even bought a grill fan to try and even it out!).

In the end, the clips really allowed me to recreate the traditional oven experience.I still worry about cracking the stone, and in this colder weather, i tend to crank the grill up in stages to allow the stone some time to accomodate the heating process. Haven't cracked it yet.

The bread comes out great. The real revelation is how much better the pizza comes out. With a hotter enviroment (550-600 degrees usually), the pizza crust gets crispy, the topping get browned, all at once, in 10 minutes or less! Now I know why pizza plces like to use super hot ovens, everything is easier.

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JB Prince is where I ordered the clips from.

They come in a 2 inch and 4 inch version. I bought both, and found the 2 inch version very limiting for baking purposes. I recommend the 4 inch version.

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Thanks for the link. I could use those brackets for so many things. I make lots of bagels for the kids and proof them in an old fridge on half sheet pans covered with plastic wrap. Had been using old spice jars in the corners to stack them (no shelves in the fridge). These will be great. I also do a bit of baking in my Grill Dome (similar to a Big Green Egg) and this will make life easier there too. Great find.

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I kind of like this idea, for pizza making. It looks like you have a weber grill, how close do you think from the top is the elevated stone. And where did you get the stone so as to match the Full sheet?


Its good to have Morels

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The grill is a Weber Summit. The elevated stone (as seen in the pictorial above) is at least 12 inches below the top of the grill. I don't use the stone when I bake foccacia bread (i bake it in the sheet pan lined with a silpat), and I can stack 2 sheet pans of bread, above the sheet pan which is directly on the grill surface, with plenty of clearance above.

The sheet pans are half size

The stone was purchased from cooking.com (14 x 16 inch)

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I bake pizza on a propane grill. I preheat the grill all burners wide open, as hot as it can get. I can get mine to 750F.

I bake the pizza on an aluminum round pizza pan with holes in it. I don't preheat the pan. I elevate the pan with a wok ring, they are cheap and it works prefectly. I put the wok ring directly on the grill. If I put the pizza pan on the grill without the ring it burns.

The pizza bakes fast, 4-6 minutes, depending on how big the holes in the pan are. This is as close as I can come to woodfired pizza with my equipment. I love baking on the grill. If I have unused pizza dough I will shape those into breadsticks and bake them the same way.

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