Earlier this month, the Sun Buckets team was in Northern Arizona hosted by five off-grid families who have agreed to use our cooking system. One of our users wondered if she could use a Sun Bucket to cook a frozen pizza. It was a great question – if you’re going to use a new cooking system, you want to be able to cook with it the way you’re used to cooking, whether that’s heating a frozen pizza, or simmering chicken in a huge pot of stock (a delicious meal we later had at this woman’s house).
Ever since our trip, I’ve been thinking about pizza. In the summer, I love to make pizza on the grill, so why not on a Sun Bucket?
The Sun Bucket started at 644°F (340 C).
While the Sun Bucket was charging, I made a simple, no frills pizza dough. 1 C. of warm water, 2 t. yeast, 1 t. sugar. I let that sit for about ten minutes until the yeast bloomed, making the surface frothy. At that point, I added 1 t. salt, 2 1/2 C. flour, and 2 T. olive oil. A quick stir to combine all the ingredients, then I turned it out on the counter to knead, adding more flour as needed, until the dough was a tacky, but not sticky, smooth ball. The dough went inside of an oiled bowl and was covered until it doubled in size, about an hour. I punched the dough down (my favorite part) and let it rest for an additional 10 minutes. The dough was then ripped into four small dough balls and the Sun Bucket was ready for action.
I rolled out each piece of dough until it was between 1/8 and 1/4 thickness. I cooked these directly on the Sun Bucket’s surface by laying down a piece of aluminum foil. My crusts were big (and irregularly shaped), so I slid the foil around to ensure that all parts of the crust was being cooked. 2-3 minutes on each side and the crust was browned and cooked through. I repeated the process with the remaining 3 crusts.
When the crusts were done, I let two cool completely to be frozen for use on another day. The two remaining crusts each got 2T. of prepared pizza sauce and 2-3 oz of shredded mozzarella cheese. The kids like cheese or pepperoni and green olive, but the grown ups like their pizzas a little jazzier. Using a small sauté pan, I sautéed a half cup of sliced mushrooms and 2 T. of jarred sun dried tomatoes. The Sun Bucket was still so hot that this only took 4 minutes.
When the pizzas were topped, it was time to bake them just enough so that the cheese melted. The crusts were already cooked through and while they could use more crisping on the bottom, I didn’t want them to burn. Instead of putting the pizza directly on the Sun Bucket’s cooking surface, I decided to use my grill pan coated with a little cooking spray. The heat needed to be trapped in the pan so that the cheese would melt, so I covered the pan with a pizza pan (unfortunately my pan lacks a fitted lid).
I started with half of one crust, topped with cheese as a trial. This went into the grill pan, was covered, after 3 minutes the cheese was starting to melt, and in 10 was bubbly. It was time for the more heavily topped pizzas – the other half with pepperoni and green olives, and one big crust with pepperoni, olives, mushrooms, and sun dried tomatoes. Each round took 10 minutes.
The crust was crisp on the bottom, chewy in the middle. The toppings were piping hot, and the cheese was gooey. And it tasted exactly the same as when I do this on my grill. What can’t my Sun Bucket do?
The Sun Bucket was used for 55 minutes and made 0.6 kg of food with an approximate caloric value of 1300 calories.