Would you like to bake something once in a while, but a lack of space or the price of purchasing an RV oven doesn’t really make it viable for the amount of times you use it?
Today I’d love to share a super simple way to make an oven from things you may already have in your home. It’s compact, inexpensive and surprisingly effective!
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I began experimenting with making an oven because I love creating something from nothing and/or utilising what I already have, and am really interested in off-grid ideas that don’t rely on electricity.
My poor Hubby will tell you that I am not a Michelin star chef (Sorry Babe.) I do however like to throw a cake together for the kids once in a while, or cook a roast on a cold winter’s night.
This oven doesn’t have the precise temperature control of a regular one, but with a bit of practice it’s surprisingly effective. I probably wouldn’t attempt a souffle or a sponge, but if I can cook a roast without burning it (and believe me, I can burn water) then you can do it to!!
A conventional oven is hot and dry, so we need to replicate that. I had a large stainless steel boiler which is perfect for the job, and you might have one to. If not you can pick them up cheaply at the op-shop, or hit Mum up for a spare. Failing that you can buy one the same as mine here. I highly recommend one with a glass lid so you can keep an eye on your masterpiece.
The next thing you need, just like a regular oven is a shelf. This lets the hot air circulate around your dish and helps to stop it burning on the bottom. The boiler I have happens to have a pasta strainer that fits neatly inside the main pot and is suspended about 5cm from the bottom. Another idea which I think actually works better is a camping toaster like the one pictured below, with the handle removed. The reason I think the camp toaster is better, is because the pasta strainer traps much more heat underneath and makes it more likely to burn your dish. You can get a cheap camping toaster here.
After you have found a suitable ‘lifter upper’, you need a dish that fits neatly inside. There are loads of non-toxic options in all shapes and sizes these days, making it east to find something to fit perfectly in your ‘oven’. When choosing a dish, be sure that it’s a bit smaller all around than the pot so that the hot air can move around freely. This ensures your food will cook evenly. As you can see, mine is probably a bit big but I had it in the cupboard already, so it will do. Here is a good place to get yourself one.
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Not essential but quite handy is a thermometer. If your pot has a glass lid you can put one inside and keep an eye on things. You can get these for about 5 bucks here. Just don’t do what I did and get a meat thermometer lol.
This is where things differ from a conventional oven. Because a pot has a lid, and heat rises, it’s tricky to stop all the heat from escaping as soon as you put your dish in. The best way I’ve found is to put your ‘lifty-uppy’ thing in the bottom, put the lid on and heat up the pot first. Once hot, take the lid off, pop the dish in as quickly as possible and replace the lid, remembering not to let the dish touch the sides anywhere. This oven doesn’t use electricity and can be used over gas, hot coals, a wood stove or a BBQ. In this example I’m using a gas burner, roughly one third open.
For the sake of this article I’ve pulled out the big guns and whipped up a fancy (packet) cake. Keep an eye (and a nose) on your heavenly creation- and the thermometer- and adjust heat as needed.
Rising.. rising, no burning smells.. winning!
And voila! A taste extravaganza unlike any packet cake you’ve ever tasted.
A boiler makes an excellent make-shift oven for those times when you need one. Unfortunately, even the tiniest bit of oil or food residue on the inside will leave stains, just like in a normal oven and it can be ridiculously hard to get off. If you use your boiler for a zillion other things like we do, you’ll need a safe way to clean it. Bicarb soda mixed with peroxide into a paste cleans stainless pretty well. You can find both in the supermarket. It’s non toxic and kind to the environment. If you have hard core stains, try filling the pot with water before hand, add two cups of white vinegar and simmer for a few minutes. Let cool then scrub with the bicarb and peroxide paste.
So there you have it. A cool little DIY oven for your Tiny Home on Wheels. Anyone can cook a dish that would make your Mamma proud, even if you have the culinary prowess of a wombat.
Thoughts, questions, ideas? Share ’em below, we’d love to hear from you!
Until next time, happy travels 🙂