Baking bread in a traditional wood fired stone oven in Newfoundland
Drive to the outskirts of Port au Choix during the summer months and roll down your car windows and there’s a good chance, you will smell the aroma of freshly baked bread.
A fairly new attraction established during Newfoundland’s 500th celebration of its French heritage, was the construction of four stone wood burning bread ovens in the Province in 2004, one of which is located in Port au Choix.
The community ovens are part of Newfoundland’s Basque heritage, fishermen who came here to fish the offshore waters for cod, whales and seals. Some stayed behind and established settlements along the shore, becoming ancestors to many who live today in Newfoundland.
Two pans of fresh bread baking in the oven.
Several days a week, fresh baked bread served with butter or homemade jams and coffee attract visitors to the oven site on the outskirts of town. A $5 donation is charged.
Baking bread in an outdoor oven is not easy. Local summer students working at the Visitors Center, start the wood fire two to three days ahead of baking then nurse the oven for the proper temperature while others are preparing the dough.
At least 30 to 40 people gathered around the oven on a cool, overcast morning to watch the baking process, repeated as it was 500 years ago.
The bread is served in small individual loaves with a slight crust on the outside and soft on the inside. The bread also has a slight smoky flavor.
“We do this,” said one of the young ladies on the baking crew, “because it is part of our French heritage that we enjoy sharing.”
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The stone oven in the warming process before baking bread.