Fresh bread is for me one of the simple joys of life, and one that seemed important to be able to keep savoring in the micro house. So the past 6 months I’ve found it comforting to bake bread each week while working during the day at the Minim House. While it’s been fun to take the time to develop and cook artisinal style bread in the outdoor wood-fired oven, I’ve come to appreciate the ease of the breadmaker for daily sandwich bread, which is reliably produced, even with a challenging 100% whole wheat loaf.
During this time I’ve become rather amused by the idea of zero-carbon bread- from ingredients to baked loaf. This basically means no wood, propane or grid electricity to cook a loaf of bread, a historic staple of western civilization. With just 15 min of prep time. Here’s how it’s done:
- The Minim solar array on the roof generates 3-4.5 kWh on a sunny day, with power stored in an on board 12 volt battery bank, then inverted to regular household power with an Outback inverter.
- With the inverter on, hard red winter wheat berries are milled into whole wheat flour with the electric stone KoMo grain mill. The grain grinder uses around .1 kWh for grinding 5 cups of flour. Freshly ground flour is generally more nutritious than store-bought- especially whole wheat flour, which starts to oxidize immediately upon grinding.
- Whole wheat flour, water, oil, wheat gluten, salt, honey, yeast, are mixed into the Zoji breadmaker. Conventional wisdom on small solar systems is to never run any heat/cooling appliances off of them, as these are heavy loads that eat up power quickly. However I’ve found that it’s not a problem to run my a/c on a sunny day, or the electric water heater for the 10 min required to get hot water. Add to the list the electric bread maker, which uses .41 kWh of power per 2 lb loaf of bread. So total power used for bread making is equivalent to a 500 watt light left on for 1 hour.
- The Zoji goes to work, and 3 hours later a perfect 2 lb 100% whole wheat walnut-wheat loaf emerges. I’ve found it’s superior to store bought (especially when still warm), with plenty of loft, and stays perfectly fresh sitting out for 4-5 days. Yum.
A few pictures of the process: