A Morning At The Bakehouse

My lack of posting is due to not having cooked much on the weekends. However, this weekend I did some baking – again… considering I recently said cooking was more my thing than baking, I’ve definitely been doing more baking than cooking lately.

Yesterday morning a friend and I attended a bread making course that took place at an old bakehouse. A tiny bakehouse. It was a four hour course with only three participants, two bakers, two helpers and a kind of lecturer. It was one of the best courses I ever attended, and it was so much fun.

If you’re interested in a glimpse into the bakehouse, you can get one here.

The “lecturer” was the father of the two ladies doing the baking with us, and he told us everything he knew about bakehouses, how a wood-burning oven works, about dying traditions, how hard it was to get into bakehouses these days. One helper was one of the ladies’ husband who did anything that was necessary around the bakehouse to help, and the other helper’s job was to fire the wood-burning oven. Outside the bakehouse was a gadget that helps you bundle brushwood for firing the oven, which none of us attending city people had ever seen before, of course.

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The atmosphere was very relaxed, there was lots of laughter, and the four hours just flew by. I hadn’t had breakfast, and on entering the bakehouse I could already smell baked bread and Swabian onion cake, which immediately made me hungry. It turned out that the family who ran the course had the bakehouse to themselves once a month, and people from the area looked forward to that because they started baking at 6 in the morning, and people can order bread and onion cake to buy.

During this course we learned their way to make bread, onion cake, and potato cake. As a bonus, we were shown how to make New Year’s pretzels. This is a different type of pretzel from our typical Swabian Brezel. It can usually be found in bakeries between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, in two sizes – large and huge – and is made from a salty dough without being covered in the typical salt solution.

Naturally we got to try everything, and each of us took home two loaves of bread and the pretzel we made ourselves.

Are there any old bakehouses where you live? If so, have you been to one, and did you get to experience baking there?