Friday, June 21, 2013

Sun Oven Chronicles: A Few Fails...

Despite how it may seem, I've had a few fails in the sun oven too.  

There is this claim that the sun oven won't burn your food and your food will turn out more moist than in a traditional oven because of its "nondrying heat".  It also claims you can cook multiple layers of cookies because of its "even heating".  I of course enjoy proving people wrong found it my duty to challenge such claims.  
Test 1)
Roasted carrots.  Roasted carrots are soooo good.  However, they can dry out really easily (at least I seem to dry them out often) and so I thought I would try peeling and cutting a carrot and just sticking it in there and see what happens.  You can KINDA see their reflection in the top reflector, but it totally fogged up and I forgot to take an after shot (which wasn't much to look at...).  (and it was so long ago now, I have no idea how long I left them in for.... I would guess less than an hour.)

Basically, without olive oil, and at such low temperatures (350, when normally I roast at 425) they totally did dry out and weren't yet as soft as I would consider to be done.
 Ok. that WAS kind of unfair, since that's not how I would normally roast a carrot, exactly...

Test 2)
The accessory kit contains three stackable racks that you can use to bake or dehydrate three layers at a time, to make maximal use of the small oven and supposedly works because of the "even heating".

I made some oatmeal pumpkin cranberry cookies and froze the dough into balls (a phenomenon I have seen plenty online, but have yet to try myself) so that we would have easy-to-access, cookies on demand.  (kind of a dangerous thing, now that I'm writing it out...)  So I got out two of the racks, and put 4 frozen dough balls on each layer.  I can't remember how long I baked them for, but I know the recipe says 12 minutes and it was much longer than that.  At least 30 minutes.
 They look good right?  I brought them in for a comparison and after eating them I quickly realized two things: 1) the bottom rack was not cooked as well as the top and 2) both layers weren't really done yet.
Unfortunately, I don't think this test can be considered conclusive yet because I have since tried baking them in a regular oven and they also came out looking done, but the middles were still so mushy that if you tried to grab one off the cookie sheet, the middle would be left behind.

Boo.  Me thinks this test is to be continued...

Now about burning food...

Test 3)
This next test, I feel is also a bit unfair, BUT they do claim that your food won't burn, right?
Sundays are very tricky right now because we have church at the dreaded time of 1pm- a.k.a. naptime.  This means that after church is a mad dash to get food into our kids' bellies and put them right to bed.  I was going to just cook chili in the sun oven while we were gone, but then I knew I'd still have to do the cornbread when we got back.  Then it occurred to me that if nothing supposedly burns in the sun oven, maybe I could cook both the cornbread and the chili in the sun oven while we're gone.  I had a Young Women's presidency meeting before church, too, so that means it would all be in there over 4 hours...  I didn't take a picture, but I put the chili in the pot and then balanced a bread pan with the cornbread on top.

Here's what came of it:
 The cornbread turned out verrrrry dark and crusty on top.  BUT, the kids still ate it and it didn't actually have a burnt taste- it just wasn't as soft and tender as usual.
The chili was fine.  Not burnt at all.

After the multi-level cookie incident, (and before I discovered that they don't work well cooked when frozen) I tried baking them again and they weren't done after my initial check, and then I kinda forgot about them... (45-ish minutes later...)

Again, they weren't "burnt" as in blackened and burnt tasting, but they were totally crispy and hard- not how I wanted to eat them...  So yes, you can over-cook things if you're a doofus, but it is harder to burn foods than a regular oven.

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