Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Baking Hot Day near Credin in Brittany

It was a perfect Spring day. Sunny, clear and with a nippy little breeze brushing my hair into my eyes, but keeping the heat away.

It wasn't the day that was baking though ... it was the chefs having fun with the ancient bread ovens near the town of Credin in Morbihan, close to where we live in Brittany.

The bread ovens are at least 400 years old and a huge source of pride and fun for the locals. The oven on the left in the image below, is the back of the oven depicted in this blog. The oven on the right is the one we have in our garden. Both are constantly having bad hair days!

The bad hair has a reason. By packing soil onto the top of the oven, and holding it in place with grass and creepers, the oven is able to retain the heat more efficiently.

A local school organises an annual sponsored walk where participants walk a route which takes them to farms where the ancient bread ovens have been fired up. In French it's called a fete du pain (festival of bread) and the walk is a balade. The brioche, bread, and perhaps croissants, that they make is sold to hungry walkers, alongside the beer tent. I didn't see a coffee, tea, cooldrink or water tent!

We arrived just in time to witness the end of the reheating of this particular oven. I believe it takes about 4 hours to heat the oven in the first place, but there were already loaves being sold, so we assumed this wasn't the first heating of the oven.

We quickly spotted the two chefs who were in command - I think they must have been brothers - by the way they were quietly and efficiently guiding their team of helpers to get the job done. Oh, and by their blue-checked trousers which were very sooty by the time we arrived.

 It was quite evident they thoroughly enjoyed the attention my big long camera lens, pointed in their direction for that hour or so, gave them. And I was invited to "go behind the scenes" a couple of times to get some good shots of highlights of the process.

I stayed well behind the counter when the flaming ashes were raked into a wheelbarrow, and left to calm down and cool awhile. As you can see it was monster hot! After a while it was wheeled away to an unknown hot ash pile somewhere to go into retirement.

The two chefs raking out the last of the flaming ashes

I see it's a double wheelbarrow ... good thing too!

It took a while for those flames to die down

This farm's bread oven is well set up for making bread. In fact, it's the only bread oven I have seen in the area with a shed built on to accommodate all the right furniture for cooling and rising. The baked bread is set to cool on pull-out shelves above the shelf where three huge pans of dough had been set to rise. I'm assuming the warmth from the bread helped with the rising process.

Above is the sliding shelf with warm bread and below is the rising dough beneath

I fell in love with these large basins of floury dough ...
they looked soft and comforting and wobbly!

Here's the team at work. One fella cuts the dough with a plastic "knife"; his opposite
number twists the dough into pieces easy for the next two workers to pick up; the
young girl, later joined in the process by her mother, weighs the dough ready
for the two chefs to flour them, roll them into balls and put them on a tray.

The trays are then whipped across to another "rising" cupboard - the type you see
in a more modern bakery (boulangerie) below

This wide angle shot of the make-shift boulangerie could well be wax models in a museum! It shows you all the lovely old paddles, rakes and shovels, with their very long handles, that have seen many a day of bread baking. They sit happily in amongst normal farm gates and paraphenalia.

After the speedy team effort of dividing the dough into almost (by my count) 100 brioche rolls, and after they had been set to rise for a while, each one was lightly scored on the top before being placed on the paddle, two by two, and slid into the hot oven.

Beautifully risen dough balls ... giving off that delicious smell of raw dough

Each brioche being lightly scored

Into the oven they go!

It took two of the team to close the oven door

Twenty minutes or so into the baking process, I was proudly invited into
the baking arena, and the door of the oven quickly opened, for me
to exercise my right as unofficial official photographer

I thought they looked done enough at this stage ... but the door was closed again.
The aroma of baking bread was over-poweringly delicious!

We couldn't wait to taste our brioche!

What a tasty and fun experience this day of the fete du pain was! Definitely an experience to repeat.


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  2. Wow it makes my mouth water!And such beautiful photography.

  3. The bread was really delicious Jannie ... with little bits of chargrilled stuff on the bottoms too. Thanks re the photography ... I'm a bit of a pointer and shooter as without my glasses I can't see if it was a good shot or not, and with my glasses they get in the way of me looking for a good composition in the viewfinder! Oh for the eyes of youth ... and yay for a good camera!! LOL