The Burned Seed Feast: An Offering and a Blessing

A sublime Seed Feast loaf, an offering to and a blessing from Fornax, Roman Goddess of the Ovens.

Last week’s bake was all but finished when I realized I’d forgotten to make my offering to the goddess of the ovens, Fornax!

Last Thursday, Feb. 17, was the final day of the Festival of Fornacalia, a day when Roman bakers made an offering of spelt grain (they tossed some into their hot ovens) and asked for Fornax’s blessing for the coming year.… Continue reading

The Festival of Fornacalia: Bring Out the Flowers and the Spelt!

The baker and Mildrith, the oven
This week, the baker will give thanks to Fornax for keeping Mildrith warm this past year, and her continued presence in the year to come!

Unless you’re a baker, it’s not something you’d typically mark in your calendar. Behold the Festival of Fornacalia, the “festival of the ovens.”

The Roman celebration was for the female deity, Fornax, goddess of the ovens.… Continue reading

Rye Bread: The Agony and the Ecstasy

Rye and Spelt Sourdough Loaf – A Happy Monk fave!

Last week’s Rye and Spelt Loaf scratched a need for me — the taste of rye, that unusual grain that bakes and tastes so differently than wheat. I’m rarely over-the-moon about my bread, as many customers are, but this loaf was beautiful!

The coarse rye flour in this loaf was highlighted by the milder tasting spelt flour, and I tasted that big earthy flavour I love so much about this under-appreciated grain.… Continue reading

A Hard-Earned Homecoming

Feb. 13, 2:45 am. Air temperature: -3.8ºC (25ºF). Mildrith internal temperature: 977ºF (525ºC)!

For days, I’d been keeping an eye on the weather forecasts.

An arctic outflow was making its way south, they said, bringing lower than seasonal temperatures. And that, combined with windy conditions, could produce wind chills of up to -20ºF. Snow was expected in coastal locations.… Continue reading

Ode to Mildrith the Wood-Fired Oven

Mildrith the wood-fired oven of the Happy Monk Baking Company, Pender Island, British Columbia
“She’s my one, my only,” I think. But I must be dreaming.

When I step outside at 2 a.m., it’s cold and dark. I find my way to Mildrith’s shelter with the light of a headlamp. Sometimes a light breeze jostles the wind chimes. They sound like an eerie, monastic night-chant. Compline.

The fire in Mildrith, the wood-fired oven, has been burning 17 hours.… Continue reading