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Let’s Raise a Glass to Mildrith the Oven!

Mildrith exceeds expectations with this busy bake! Here, she dispenses with 12 of the 20 Sprouted Kamut Loaves this week.

Permit me to extoll Mildrith’s virtues.

She continues to exceed my expectations, yet she has simple needs. If I feed her enough wood and fire, she is with me. She performs. On Friday, she was miraculous!

Last week’s orders spiked to over 40 loaves. (Thank you, Pender!) Some of those were extras I built in to account for last minute requests. And they were all accounted for in the end — including a Sprouted Kamut loaf for the Happy Monk!

So I had some concerns if Mildrith could produce enough heat to bake all that dough without a re-firing. That would add at least three hours to the bake — and more firewood. I’d sooner not have to do that.

Building heat

I started building heat on Wednesday with a four-hour fire. The temperature fluctuates during these burns, depending on the amount of wood I feed the oven. It’s often well above 1,000ºF inside the dome, never below 700ºF.

I fed Mildrith another five hours of heat on Thursday. Then, starting on Friday at two in the morning, she got two more hours of burn before I raked out the ashes and prepared for the bake.

The ideal oven temperature for bread is about 500ºF. I put the loaves in when the oven was a bit hotter, this time, hoping to make the most of the falling temperature.

After three rounds of 12 to 13 loaves each, the oven temperature was still around 450º … enough for at least another round of baking. The loaves were beautiful! Dark finish, lots of oven spring. I couldn’t have been happier.

The benevolent work horse

Here’s to Mildrith the Oven, the benevolent work horse of the Happy Monk Baking Company!

We can all be proud of her! She is built of Pender Island … her rocks, her clay, her sand, the beams and rafters of the shelter structure, and even the horse-manure plaster that protects her from the elements. And I am grateful to the many people who took part in her creation!

To Mildrith and the staff of life!

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