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Cooking with Fire in Public Parks
On Nov.6, 2018, Shauna Kearns baked bread in the smaller Dufferin Grove oven for the Depanneur Table Talk that night. Shauna had been invited to talk about the outdoor bake oven she got built in Braddock Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. She told a story about how she became a wood-oven baker. First, she said she went to a place in England called Tracebridge Sourdough. And that's where the bug really bit her. No wonder. It turns out they have an Alan Scott oven too.
We found out about Shauna's work when she came up from Pittsburgh, where she was starting to work with bricklayers at the Trade Institute of Pittsburgh (TIP) to help people coming out of prison to build bake ovens for sale. Shauna said she first met the people at TIP when she wanted to build a bigger bake oven in Braddock PA, to replace a smaller oven that was crumbling. TIP shows the building of the foundation here. What happened next is complicated: read more
An email from Peta Christianson, who works with a group called Cultivating Community in Melbourne Australia:
We have a cob bake oven in our community garden – the oven was built through a workshop with Alan Scott around 15 years ago – I’m sad to say it has been pretty dormant for the most part of that time with the occasional lighting however we now have a local sour dough bread enthusiast who we are lighting the oven with more regularly. We light the oven about monthly now and make bread for a low cost community fresh food market as well as invite members of the local community to come and bake their breads from many cultures with us. We usually have a pizza dinner the night before we bake bread for the market. We also light the oven when we have special celebrations – pizzas are very popular but my favourite thing is when people bring something from their own culture to bake and share. Our baking group is gaining momentum and we hope to be able to skill up more people in the community so we can bake more often....read more
Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY. February 19/20, 2011.
Report by guest baker Yo Utano.
Somehow the guest baker project went international, and I found myself in a park in Brooklyn, New York. One day last fall Jutta Mason came across an oven while riding around Prospect Park on her bike (it is bigger than our High Park). Anna Bekerman, a long time baker at Dufferin Grove who is in Brooklyn at the moment, visited Lefferts Historic House to which the oven belonged and together with the staff there, planned a baking day. I took an overnight bus to join them.
Anna, her little baby Alice and I met Elyse, Billy and Margaret on a windy Saturday afternoon to preheat the oven. The oven comes with two parts: a baking chamber and a hearth fireplace, next to each other. Just the sight of it excited me.
While the fire was on, we sat in the kids’ room of the house and exchanged our knowledge and experiences. Lefferts House runs educational programs on the way of life of both natives and early settlers in the area. For Billy and Elyse, food is at the center of education, and so the oven was built. School groups and visitors learn how lives were lived there in the early days from the gardens (including grains and flax for fiber!), the oven, hearth and other cooking equipment, as well as from the museum inside. read more
Anna, Mayssan and Jutta went up to Kitchener to see the Working Centre, in particular the cafe and the bake oven. One of the centre's long-time supporters and collaborators, The Working Centre is as active as a beehive.
The bake oven is beautifully made, only a bit small. Here is a July 2014 article about a pizza-making gathering there.
The Bread and Puppet Theatre company seldom performed anywhere without baking bread to go along with the show. At the company's farm in Vermont, there are two ovens, a smaller one close to the living quarters, and a very big one out in the performance field. Sometimes that oven baked bread for thousands of people.
At the time of our visit, Peter Schumann ground the rye meal in a big hand mill. read more
Portuguese stone oven baking in Hawaii about an
"outdoor stone oven, a reproduction of the “forno,” the oven used by the Portuguese immigrants who came to Kona in the 1880s. The loaves are sold for $8 each on a first-come, first-serve basis until sold out. Sales start down at the oven at about 12:30 p.m. and tend to sell out quickly so get there early. These Special Bakes are part of the Society’s Portuguese Bread Baking Program, which celebrates Portuguese contributions to Kona’s ranching heritage and perpetuates the art of baking Portuguese bread in the traditional way. Portuguese families typically shared their ovens communally and worked together to produce the weekly bread for everyone."
Explanation by Syed Luqman Ahmed Shah: This is special type of bread,called "ma'nne" particular to Seraiki belt,upper Sind and parts of Baluchistan,,,, It is paper thin, soft n crispy and keeps its texture for almost a fortnight (even more) if properly stored. Its specially used for "sohbat" a traditional dish in the region.
From Muhammad Naeem Khan: This comes from my native village Bannu, It's a part of popular Pastoon Dish "Posti Pan-da" presented at events like weddings Parties etc. as bread.
Polestar Bakery, Guelph Ontario: website.
(thanks to Dale Howey for sending this link) From In The Hills magazine, Aug.20, 2013: All Fired Up. About wood-fired oven bakers near Creemore:
Matthew Flett bakes 90 loaves of sourdough, 30 focaccias, pus batard and dozens of doughnuts in his oven to sell at Creemore’s Saturday farmers’ market.
Anna Hobbs and Byron Beeler built a Quebec-style oven where they bake Nova Scotia brown bread for their family.
Alan Hibben had his backyard oven built by Alex Chernov's company, Stovemaster.