Wednesday, January 20

Christening the new oven!

Big news at the bakery! The traditional oven, which has been under construction for almost a year, is finally ready for use!

Arequipeños like their pan de tres puntas, a special rustic bread cooked only in a traditional wood oven. As a competitive bakery, having this oven is essential.

But you can't just heat the new oven up the first day you want to cook bread. Over a month, the oven must be heated gradually before it can be used at full capacity.

Señor Raúl figured those daily heatings shouldn't be wasted, so Wednesday, we ate a feast of marinated lamb leg and potatoes.
And in the process, we learned how the oven works, and why few bakeries go to the trouble to have one.

The tiny oven door shown below is chest high. It opens into a small, concrete chamber where the wood is burnt down to coals and then pushed aside to insert the bread--or in this case, our lamb, as Señora Delia is doing below with a 7-foot-long paddle.

Below the open chamber is the complicated stuff. Glass shards, then a special clay, then bricks fill the bottom cavity that maintains the oven temperature. 

This special contraption costs about $4,000, no small price here in Peru. But Señor Raúl predicts that over time, less and less bakeries will have traditional ovens, making pan de tres puntas a valuable commodity.

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