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In the cool of the evening, the patio is inviting–a respite from the midday heat. It’s nice to crank up the barbecue and enjoy an evening with family or friends in the quiet shade. We can think of all kinds of reasons to use the grill at our house. In the summertime, you don’t have to heat up the kitchen to bake. Sometimes, it’s just nice to get out of the kitchen, enjoy the fresh air, and bake outside.
You can bake nearly anything with a covered grill. (If your grill doesn’t have a cover, improvise with a large inverted pot.) The heat rises and circulates in the covered area just as it does in your oven. The heat source can be charcoal, gas, or even wood. We prefer gas because it is easier to control and does not impart a smoked taste to the bread. Since it is hottest near the flames, elevate the bread even if you have to improvise. In our grill, there is a secondary shelf for baking potatoes and such. You can enjoy fresh-baked dishes and desserts while camping, at the cabin, or at the next family reunion. Here are a couple of our favorite items to cook on the grill while we beat the heat of summer.
Baking Bread on The Grill
You can bake nearly anything with a covered grill. (If your grill doesn’t have a cover, improvise with a large inverted pot.) The heat rises and circulates in the covered area just as it does in your oven. The heat source can be charcoal, gas, or even wood. We prefer gas because it is easier to control and does not impart a smoked taste to the bread. Since it is hottest near the flames, elevate the bread even if you have to improvise. In our grill, there is a secondary shelf for baking potatoes and such.
To bake bread, use your favorite recipe or save time with a mix. Mix the dough according to package or recipe directions. After it has risen, you can form oval country loaves, hamburger buns, or dinner rolls.
The trick to grilling bread perfectly is controlling temperature and time. If your grill comes equipped with a thermometer, you’ve got it made (though ambient temperatures and winds may impact how well your grill retains heat). If you have a thermometer, just heat to the temperature designated on the package or in the recipe. If not, you can guess. After a few loaves you’ll have it perfect and we bet that the first batch off the grill will be just fine.
Rolls and buns will probably bake in 15 to 20 minutes and loaves will take 20 to 30 minutes depending on size and temperature. The tendency is to over-bake so an occasional peek to see how your bread is doing as it nears completion is okay.
Because the heat is so concentrated at the bottom and there is no fan to circulate the heat, the bottom of your bread will bake faster than it should. We solved that problem by putting one baking sheet on top of another. The space between the sheets helped insulate the bread from the bottom heat.
Baking Pizza on The Grill
Pizzas are baked hot and fast on the grill. On our grill, we turn the heat up all the way and have pizzas baked in eight to ten minutes. We probably should turn the heat down a bit and bake it a little longer, but hey—we have this system down.
The key to pizzas on the grill is to not burn the bottom of the crust. Elevate your pizza to get it as far from the flames as possible or put something underneath to insulate the bottom of the pan. Lately, we’ve simply slid a cookie sheet under the pizza pan. The extra pan and space between the pans is enough to slow the heat down.
If you like to use a pizza stone, you can do that on the grill. You can either use a pizza peel and slip the pizza right on the stone or make the pizza in a pan and put the pan on the stone.
Here’s how to bake your pizza:
- If you are using a baking stone, start the grill and place the baking stone on the top shelf of your grill. You will want the stone very hot so let it heat for 20 minutes or so before you add the pizza.
- Mix the dough according to package or recipe directions just as if baking for the oven.
- Shape the dough into a thin crust pizza, either on the counter if you are using a stone and peel, or in a pizza pan.
- Spread a thin layer of marinara or white sauce on the dough. For a white sauce, consider dips, ranch dressing, or sour cream.
- Spread the toppings over the sauce. Don’t pile the goodies on the pizza too deep; they tend to insulate the crust from the essential top heat.
- Place the pizza on the grill as explained above, either on a stone or in a pan with a stone or another pan beneath. Set the timer—we set it for eight minutes—and then check for doneness by lifting the edge of the crust. If your grill doesn’t bake evenly, and most don’t, turn the stone or pan 180 degrees about half way through baking.
- Once done, immediately remove the pizza from the grill, and if you are using a stone, from the stone. (If you don’t remove the pizza the stone, it will continue to bake.
Enjoy & thanks for reading!
About the Author
Dennis Weaver has burned food from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Miami, Florida. He is the founder of The Prepared Pantry in Rigby, Idaho and the author of How to Bake: The Art and Science of Baking available as an E-book or as a Kindle book on Amazon.
Dennis lives in Rigby, Idaho, with his wife, Merri Ann. They have five wonderful children and five beautiful granddaughters.