It may surprise you to learn that you can make bread in your grill. But since all you need to bake bread is an enclosed space that is heated, a grill works perfectly. Flatbread is a breeze and even breads that require rising times come out well.
One thing to remember, though, is that grills can get much hotter than an oven and temperature control is not as precise. Delicate breads that are a challenge in the oven should be avoided on the grill until you really get the hang of it. A few tips will help guide you toward grill-baked bread perfection.
Maintaining Grill Temperature
One thing we love about an outdoor grill is the heat it produces, creating a nice sear on food and speeding up cooking times. This intense heat, however, will affect the way bread bakes; bread cooks faster—sometimes twice as fast—on the grill as it does in the oven. Additionally, because of the natural airflow inside your grill (whether charcoal or gas), you get more convection than you do in your oven, which will shorten the baking time.
Because grills can produce a lot more heat than you traditionally use to bake bread, you need to maintain a relatively low temperature in the grill. The best way to do this is to use an oven thermometer. Place it near the bread to monitor temperatures and keep a close eye on the bread when you are grilling.
You may also want to consider (although not necessary) indirect grilling. Since direct heat can cause the bottom of bread to get burned quickly, indirect grilling can help create a more even baking environment for bread.
Baking Rolls and Loaves
Almost any bread recipe can be baked on the grill, but you may want to start with pre-made frozen rolls or dough just to get the hang of the heat. Place frozen loaves or rolls directly on a preheated grill. Watch them to make sure they don't burn and remove them from the grill when they are a nice golden brown.
A good next step is a no-knead bread recipe. You simply place the dough in a Dutch oven and put the pot on the grill—this way you don't have to worry about the bottom of the bread burning. Once you have mastered that, feel free to try a traditional bread recipe. It is best to form the dough into smaller loaves so the bottom doesn't burn before the inside is fully cooked, and make sure to slash the top of the loaf in a few places to allow the steam to escape (this prevents a soggy interior). Check on the bread to see if it is baking evenly; if the bottom looks like it's getting too brown too fast, move the loaf to a cooler part of the grill.
Flatbreads, such as pizza crust and focaccia, need to be able to hold together on your grill. You can place them right on the grate as long as the grate provides enough support. If you have a wide slotted grate, make the breads thicker, or use an appropriate rack on top of the grill. You also want to oil the grates before adding the flatbread dough.
For pizza, place the crust on the grill to allow it to get a little stiff, then top with pizza sauce, cheese, and other toppings, and put it back on the grill until the cheese is melted.
Tools and Tips
If you find the bottom of your bread is getting too dark too quickly, you may want to use a pizza stone. But before you put any cookware on your grill you must make sure it is safe to use as some stones do not stand up well to the heat and flame of a grill. It may be wise not to use anything that says it shouldn't be used for broiling.
A baker's peel—wide board tools you see in bakeries—can be very helpful getting bread on and off the grill. Super Peel is a tool that is well worth the money. It has a conveyor belt that really makes it easy to get bread onto the grill, especially pizzas.
Many grills today come with a variety of accessories, making the grill quite versatile. Check with your grill manufacturer's website to see if they have specific accessories to help you bake bread on your grill.