Monday, 19 September 2011

A Fun and Fabulous Weekend - Icelandic Althing

Spit with clay, copper, rivet pots and fry pan.
This weekend we were reenactment camping.   The weather was on the cool side, which meant lots of blankets and a good reason to wear the wool tunics we make.   It was an early Norse themed event and the second reenactment group I play with, camped together to do some awesome period playing.   

We had two cooking fires going.  One spit held pots with peppered apples, hot cider, veggies, water, stew and sausages.  The other started off with a dye pot and a pan for flat breads but ended up with a huge roast beef, which was our dinner.

Cooking flatbreads, while watching the beef.
The owners of the property had hoped to get a permanent outdoor cob oven built (which we were going to get to play with), but real life intervened and they weren't able to get it built.    What they did do, was cobble together some wonderful supplies for us to make a temporary oven to try out.  We piled up cinder blocks, put on two kiln shelves and made a little enclosure of soft fire brick.   We were pretty certain that it would hold enough heat to bake bread, despite a couple of people who were sure it wouldn't work.   My small pottery kiln uses fire brick to insulate the kiln, keeping the heat fairly well contained and allows it to cool down slowly. 

Experimental temporary bread oven
We built a fire in it and kept it going for a little over 4 hours, until the fire brick was quite warm to the touch.   We scraped out the fire, did a quick clean out of the ash and promptly popped in a loaf of bread dough, totally forgetting that we needed to let the oven soak, or sit closed for a few minutes to allow the temperature to even out.   Our first loaf, was burnt on the outside, but cooked on the inside.   It was pretty amazing how quickly people decided to check it out and ripping off the burnt edges, devoured the yummy insides.    We were able to cook 3 more loaves of bread after that, with each loaf taking a few minutes longer than the previous loaf simply because of heat loss due to opening the door and of course because there wasn't enough extra insulation to hold in the heat for a long time.

Bread from the oven and the charred remains of the first loaf

We were thrilled with the results and thankful that the event organizers had gone to the extra effort of getting us the materials to play with. We were over the top with excitement after getting the first useable loaf from the oven.  That we got 3 delicious loaves was beyond expectations.  How cool was it that the event organizers facilitated such a fantastic experience for us on a great day?  Our group was collectively overwhelmed and over the top with excitement.


Woolly Bits said...

hmm, that bread looks yummeh! though I wouldn't mind a bit of flatbread off the griddle either:)) years back we had planned to build our own outside baking oven, but with only 3 people, one of them not even keen on bread, it wouldn't really have made much sense... still, I love homemade bread - good idea really, maybe I should get one going?:)) thanks for the drool-over pix:))
btw - what did you dye?

Leigh said...

Sounds like a fantastically fun weekend. And the oven! So cool. I've never seen anything like it. The bread looks wonderful.