Bread and Buns Baked in Warm Wood-Stove
Written by: The Bridge on Saturday, May 3rd, 2008
On the first of April, Anna and I decided to try our hand at baking. In 2000 Eddie Vetter from Cascade and his son, Cameron, made a big wood oven from scratch. They welded it together, fashioning it after one they saw that Nigerian bakers used to bake. It has two racks inside and you make a fire under it. Anna says they got to use it once before they left for home.
First we lit the fire under the oven, assuring that we had big logs. We measured our ingredients, nothing fancy, just the basics, oil, eggs, salt, sugar, water, yeast, honey and white flour. Measurements weren’t accurate; we just judged. It was hard to ‘knet,’ knead, by hand. We had bitten off a bigger bite than we could chew!! We would have liked the dough to be tougher, but our arms were tired. Oh, well, good enough…. Something we find ourselves saying a lot here!
After cleaning our bread trays and leaving them in the sun to dry, we piled them into a wheelbarrow and hauled them and the big bowl of dough over to the dining area where we made them ready to put into the trays. Then we carried them into the kitchen, and set them down right beside the oven to rise. It took about an hour, during which we quickly kneaded a batch of buns. Once we delicately piled the bread into the oven, we let them sit inside for about ¾ hour then it was out onto the table to cool. Turns out, the loaves had big holes; we blame it on the soft texture of our dough and maybe we should have baked it sooner. To me the bread was rather bland, but we had it at breakfast the next day and everyone said it was “powerful and strong” bread, translation – they liked it.
Then we baked our buns. By then one of the women had informed us that we should rotate the pans after 15 minutes or so and switch racks, so we did that, and the buns baked nicely. They were a lot better than the bread, I thought! An oven thermometer would come in handy; then we would have an idea of how hot the oven actually is.
Well, now they want us to bake more often, which we sure wouldn’t mind doing. We plan on baking another batch this week. The problem is, a big bag of flour costs over 5000 Niara, and when you don’t have money, it is a lot. Whenever they want to have bread for breakfast, Ita the Hausholter, gets up around 6 and drives to town for it. We needed to figure out if it’s cheaper to do it that way, or to bake it, and I believe it’s cheaper if he goes every time to buy it. And in that case, I’m not sure how much baking we will do! We’ll let you know if we try baking a batch of Duncan Heinz…. Mmmm, did someone say cake?
(“…. So the people took their dough before it was leavened, having their kneading bowls bound up in their clothes o n their shoulders….” Exodus 12: 34)