Breadmaking in Vânători village

by admin on 23/06/2012

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Although most Transylvanians buy bread baked in electrically powered ovens, a few hardy souls are still baking bread manually in wood-fired ovens.

Just a few kilometres from Saschiz, we could watch Magda, a woman in her sixties making bread manually. When we arrived, she had already filled a large trough with dough. While her sister Elisabeta poured water on the dough occasionally, she was kneading it. Having to knead such a large amount of dough must have been heavy work. Eventually, she was satisfied with the result, covered the dough with a towel and let it rest for leavening.

Instead of resting, she went straight into her courtyard, firing up her oven with lots of paper, then putting various pieces of wood on the burning paper. After having let it burn for nearly an hour, the oven was hot enough. In the meantime, she applied vegetable oil to some metal containers and put the dough into them.

Having put out the fire in the oven and moved the embers aside, she used a long wooden paddle to place the breads in the oven. The woman next door had obviously heard about our visit since she also brought some breads to be baked. When all the breads had been placed inside the oven, a wooden plate was placed across the opening, then we just had to wait for about 2 hours.

Having nothing else to do, I went for a long walk. In the beginning the houses made of brick looked solid while further away they looked much more run-down and having been built more carelessly. A woman was collecting water in a well before carrying it back home in a bucket, while a family was collecting water from a tiny creek which looked cleaner the further upstream I went. All sorts of poultry was walking around freely, while it seemed like everyone was growing vegetables in their gardens.

Returning just in time to see the breads being taken out of the oven, we could see that they were brought out using the same paddle and placing them on a nearby table. As expected, the tops of the breads were completely burned and almost shining black. In order to make the breads edible, Magda’s son hit the breads continuously with two sticks until most of the burnt stuff had fallen off. Then, he and the woman next door used graters to make the finishing touches. After the bread had cooled, we got some delicious slices of their home-made breads tasting much better than the machine-made bread we usually got.

In fact, Magda is making bread weekly for her family, but before she made bread for selling. Now, she’s feeling too old for such hard work.

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