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

Mildrith Springs to Life!

Two o’clock in the morning.

I’m still a little bleary-eyed, having slipped out of bed only a few minutes before.

Mildrith is warm. I’d fired her the previous evening for a few hours. The fire was still going when I sealed her off for the night. I’d closed the damper, inserted the fire door and shut the steel gates.… Continue reading