One great side item that always goes with barbecue (and grilled chili!) is delicious bread. Not much beats a piece of soft, warm bread to help soak up that extra barbecue sauce on your plate. So, why not bake bread directly on your grill or in your smoker while you’re cooking your meat and other sides?
You may not have ever thought about making bread anywhere other than in your kitchen’s oven. But a dry, hot grill makes for a perfect outdoor baking “oven”. Almost any bread recipe can be successfully done on a grill. Though to ensure you end up with a good result and not a charred chunk of dough, there are some important tips to keep in mind.
In this article, we’ve put together some of the things you need to know on how to make bread on the grill perfectly every time.
Firstly, it is important to note that bread will bake much faster on a grill than it does in a kitchen oven, sometimes up to twice as fast. This is because of two things: the fact that the grill can get much hotter much faster and it also produces more convection than your oven does due to the airflow through the vents.
On a grill, you’ll be baking the bread using a lot more heat than you would traditionally use to bake bread. So, to end up with a good result for your bread, you’ll need to maintain a consistent medium-high cooking temperature (375 to 450°F) and bake the bread over indirect heat.
Using indirect heat (using a two-zone grill setup on a charcoal or gas grill) will ensure an even and thorough cooking process. Remember, if the grill is too hot directly under the bread, the outside of it will burn, while the inside remains doughy. Alternatively, if the cooking temperature is too low, the bread will not have the delicious crunch that you are aiming for.
The other good thing about a two-zone cooking setup is that if you check the bread and it looks like the bottom is browning too fast, you can simply move it closer to the cooler part of the grill.
Like when cooking many other things on the grill, when baking bread on the grill, it is very important to adequately preheat the grill before putting the dough on. Putting it on a cold surface will increase the chance that the dough will stick to the grates and can result in it baking unevenly.
So, crank your grill’s temperature up to closer to 450°F to get it ready and then you can bring it down slightly just before your bread goes on.
Also, if you are doing a no-knead bread in a cast-iron pot (like a Dutch oven) or using a baking/pizza stone, make sure to preheat these accessories as well before you add the dough.
As mentioned above, maintaining a consistent grill temperature that is not too hot is a critical part of successfully baking bread. A trick to being able to do this is by using thermometers. First, you want to have a digital grill thermometer or oven thermometer on hand. Place it on the grill near your bread to monitor the cooking temperature.
You also want to have a digital instant-read thermometer with a needle so that you can monitor the internal temperature of the bread. The bread will be done when it has reached an internal temperature of 205°F and golden brown on the exterior.
Unless you are extremely comfortable with operating a smoker, you probably wouldn’t dive right into smoking a full packer brisket on your first try smoking meat. The same idea applies to baking bread on a grill.
If it is your first time, a good starting place is with pre-made frozen dough. This will allow you to get the hang of controlling the grill’s heat properly for bread. Once you are comfortable with that, you can try a no-knead bread recipe. Usually, these recipes involve putting fresh dough in a cast iron Dutch-oven pot. So then you are not having to worry about the bottom of the bread burning. Once you feel that you have mastered that method, the next step would be to try a traditional bread recipe.
Source: Big Green Egg
If you are going to be baking bread dough directly on your grill grates, make sure that they are lightly oiled first. This is especially true for flatbreads or pizza dough. A light coat of oil will prevent your dough from sticking to the grate and help ensure even cooking across the bottom.
The last thing you want is for your bread to end up with a soggy interior. The way to prevent this from happening is to allow the steam to escape by slashing the top of the loaf or rolls in a few places. Usually, two or three quarter-inch deep slashes is enough to do the trick.
If your bread keeps getting too dark too quickly, try putting the dough on a baking stone (aka pizza stone). These thin pieces of stone can help the dough cook thoroughly and evenly without burning the bottom.
But, not all baking stones are made to withstand the high heat of a grill. So, make sure the one you have or get is grill-safe. If the stone you have says it shouldn't be used for broiling, don’t put it on your grill!
When it comes to how to bake bread on the grill, it’s actually a lot easier than you may have anticipated. By following the tips we covered above, you’ll be able to enjoy delicious grill-baked bread today. The most critical things to keep an eye on are the cooking temperature of your grill and the internal temperature of the bread.
Also, another good accessory you may want to have on hand is a baker’s peel (aka pizza peel) to easily move the bread on and off the grill.
If you try baking bread on the grill for the first time or have some other tips on how to do it properly, leave a comment below. We want to hear all about it!
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*Feature image for this article courtesy of Big Green Egg.
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