Public Bakeovens



Cooking with Fire in Public Parks


If you want a bake oven for your park...

Cooking with Fire

1. The cost of a bake oven varies a lot:

at an Arts co-op, $1500, volunteer labour, recycled bricks

at a historical museum, $20,000, expert oven builder

If an oven is not locally built but imported from a distance and has designers involved, the cost can go up very high: new Christie Pits oven ordered from France, cost $153,800.


2. Maybe first test local interest with a few campfire cookouts:

breakfast in the park

big pot for goat, little pot for rice

Zakia at the tawa

pancakes at park "sleep-in" protest

3. It's also possible to bake in a temporary oven:

Ovens like this one can be made in an hour with loose bricks and angle iron to hold the roof.

Others, like this one, can last a long time even though they are made without mortar.


4. Permanent ovens come in many different kinds:

Dufferin Grove oven 2002, holds 40 loaves

Lawrence Heights oven has fire in two places


new Christie Pits oven ordered from France, all-in cost: $153,800

lframe% | John Polanyi schoolyard has a barrel oven made with cob

Lefferts House (Brooklyn) oven with colonial fireplace

first fire in Falstaff oven with no chimney

stomping mud for Mabelle cob oven

first fire in Mabelle oven

adjusting the draft on Thorncliffe tandoor

naan bread sticks to the clay oven wall

5. Ovens can draw people together:

making more pizzas

they bake so fast

Quita Jane and Annick with their ready bread

Despite the happy photos, wood-fired ovens are a lot of work.

A bake oven caution: Baking bread is not a virtual activity in any sense. Itís a very physical activity spread out over real time. Making bread slowly (less yeast, slower rise), which tastes better, is an activity spread out over quite a bit of real time. Making a fire increases the time. It also means thereís smoke, splinters, soot, and heat. All senses become involved, intensely. In addition to that, baking or cooking with fire in a park draws other people, always. They almost always want to tell you a story of older ways of cooking food where they come from. Hearing stories from your neighbours or from strangers takes more time. This means that a community bake-oven runs on a different time (an older kind of time) than most peopleís watches, or schedules, do. If you want to live in a slower time a few days a month, this is a wonderful way to do it. If you love good bread but you have to keep moving fast, a visit to a good bakery will be more satisfying. Donít try to bake in a wood-fired bake oven, at least not until your life enters a different season.

Jutta Mason: Cooking with Fire in Public Parks.


Here is a short Youtube video showing naan bread being made at Thorncliffe Park in September 2014.

See also: Step-by-step photos of Oven Construction

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Content last modified on November 08, 2018, at 03:32 AM EST