Off-Grid Baking – Tea Lights and Toaster Oven

By Beverly Sandlin

Grammyprepper sent me a link to a lady who has been experiments with a gutted toaster oven and tea lights.   And I just had to try it in my toaster oven (LINK to the article on using the Deadwood Stove Oven In the House or Outside) that I converted for rocket stove baking. Wow, it works!


I did a little research and found there is a $389 (Yup, almost $400!!!) tea light oven out there called the Herc HERE.

If you follow my link back to my toaster oven converted to work with a rocket stove you will see that I did not bother to gut it (Why?) and I cut my hole in the bottom to sit on top of the rocket stove. The lady who was playing with her version had holes drilled in the back which did not allow it to heat up like mine does. So, here goes…

The Herc has these fancy terra cotta bricks on the top. Well, we know you can bake on unglazed terra cotta and that it holds and radiates heat – I went down and bought a $1 unglazed terra cotta plant saucer and used some leftover heat resistant caulk to attach it to the inside top of my oven.

terra cotta saucer

I only have one place to slide in my grate, so I went to my “obtainium” pile and selected a piece of hardware cloth (Small mesh wire, I have no idea why they call it “cloth”.) cut it with a good scissors to the size of the bottom of my oven and then bent 4 to raise the grate.

hardware cloth

Then I placed the tea lights (Walmart brand is the best I have found at less than 5 cents apiece and go for about 4 hours.) on the base of hardware cloth around the 4 sides so that I didn’t burn what I was baking. I also slid out the bottom tray that on mine I had drilled holes into – it worked with it, but some of the candles went out as they needed more air.

toaster oven temp

It takes from 15 to 20 tea lights for my oven to bake a Rhubarb Crisp. I’m on a Rhubarb Crisp kick – rhubarb season – and have baked 3 now in this oven – I’M PLEASED!

rhubarb crisp

I did put in my oven thermometer. I had no problem getting from 300 to 400 degrees and even had to blow out lights to bring the temperature down! Reality is you don’t need more than 275 degrees to bake successfully – remember that heat rises so it is probably hotter than the thermometer is registering. Fewer candles used (Saving money.) and just a bit longer to cook. In other words, don’t sweat the numbers.  :-)

Generally, you can use your tea lights 2 to 3 times for baking which means you have your cost down to 15-25 cents per use – Dare you to heat up your big oven for that! Your kitchen stays much cooler than if you do start your big oven too. No, you should not leave candles unattended – of course I did…

This actually worked better than the Camp Heat, so I am adding to my stock of Walmart tea lights. And I am keeping this oven in the house as for summer it makes much more sense to use it than to start up my big oven for most of what I am baking for 2 people.


And here is my Rhubarb Crisp recipe.  :-)

Normal cook time: 55 minutes

Don’t sweat the measurements, I don’t. Plus I didn’t want to open a whole new box of instant oatmeal, so I just used a couple of single serving packets of Instant Oatmeal Maple & Brown Sugar. And once I forgot the vanilla with no bad results. Plus I have both Canadian ruby red rhubarb and pie rhubarb (not red), did it with one and did it with the other then mixed them. Canadian is more tart – I like that.

1 cup light brown sugar firmly packed

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup quick cooking rolled oats (2 single serving packets = 1cup)

1/2 cup melted butter

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

4 cups of 1/2″ to 1″ sliced rhubarb

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix the sugar, cornstarch, water and vanilla in a saucepan and heat until it is clear stirring with a whisk, then dump in the rhubarb and mix.

In a bowl mix the brown sugar, flour, oats, and cinnamon, add the melted butter and mix. Put half in the bottom of a pan. Now dump the rhubarb mix over it and spread to level. Pour the rest of the crumbly mix over the top, firm with your hand, bake and enjoy.



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