Dashboard Cooking? Can it be done? Of course, your car acts like a great big solar cooker.
Summer time weather in many parts of the world, including the Southern USA, routinely gets hot enough to heat up the interior of a car to extreme temperatures. “The car is hot enough to bake cookies!” We hear it all the time. But can you really bake cookies in the car? One hot Sunday afternoon, I decided to find out.
I wanted to find out if the car really did get hot enough to bake cookies.
I began by preparing my car dashboard. Since I didn’t want to mar the surface, I placed a cup towel on the dashboard for protection. then I placed a wire rack on the cup towel. Using the wire rack allowed hot air to flow under the cookie sheet to help heat the bottom of the pan. I placed an oven thermometer on the dashboard as well. Then I closed up the car to heat, and went inside to prepare the cookies.
For my experiment, I picked up some pre-made cookie dough at the supermarket. So it was a simple matter to just place the cookie dough nuggets on to a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.
After pre-heating the solar oven, I put out both pans of cookies at the exact same time. The outside ambient temperature on that day was 100° F (38°C). The temperature in the car was about 150° F when I put the cookies in, but eventually maxed out at 175° F (80°C). The temperature of the Sunflair maxed out at the same temperature. So, in this case, my car was as hot as the solar oven!!
The cookies in the Sunflair baked in two hours. But – even at the same temperature – the cookies in the car took three hours to bake. And yet, they did bake. Part of the reason for the difference might have been that my car was not pointing directly into the sun as the SunFlair was.
The cookies looked exactly alike. Can you tell the difference?
So the conclusion to my unscientific experiment is that dashboard cooking is possible. But if you decide to try it, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Do not bake cookies or heat food on a dashboard when the car is in motion. This is hazardous and could cause serious injury to you or your passengers in the event of an accident. It also would be a distraction and obstructs your line of vision. It might even be illegal in your state.
- Do not heat food in an unopened can, for example soup. You must vent the can prior to heating. Otherwise, the can will become a small pressure cooker that could cause serious injury if you try to open it while it is still hot.
- Although some people are unconcerned, it might be unwise to eat food cooked in an open pan or container, like these cookies, due to the off-gassing of chemicals from all of the plastics inside the car. Here is more information on that.
- The thermometer in the car registered 150°F (66°C) within 15 minutes of putting it in the car. Please do not leave your pets or your little ones alone in the car. Just think about cookies baking on the dashboard.