Sunday, March 14, 2010

The finish work has begun...

The oven is moving right along. The facing is almost complete. It is taking on a life of it's own. I am amazed by it's size and beauty and the opportunity that lies ahead for us and our community.

There have been plenty of times for me to feel intimidated by it's size. I have never worked with an oven this large. It is going to take my longest bread peel, the handle, plus my 2' arm to reach the back, working quickly to load in 100 loaves of bread, rotating half way through baking and unloading at that perfect moment when the crust is dark, chewy and caramelized. I feel completely confident and secure moving into this relationship with the oven.

Dale recommended using cobblestone to face the oven. I was not crazy about the idea of cobblestones. However, I drove to Salem to buy 1 cobblestone, brought it home for a second opinion and we decided to give it a try. So the next day, I came home with a 1/2 ton of hand selected cobblestone. After seeing it on the front of the oven, we could not have picked a more beautiful rock. Placed just above the 7' red brick, bullnose shelf, it is a perfect fit.

The siding went on the oven today. We also had a counter top delivery for the bread bar/espresso bar. We will offer a full line of delicious coffee and espresso drinks using our Italian made Sorrento, 2 group espresso machine. We will offer coffees, teas, juices and water.

A gentleman stopped by on Friday to see if he could drive the "bread truck" for deliveries. I told him we weren't going to get that big, but perhaps there may be another position available.

The chimney should make its debut out the top of the building this week.

The sheet rockers began yesterday re-sheet rocking the entire interior about 5,760 sq. ft. of rock. They will finish up today. What a difference it makes covering up all the insulation.

The two biggest things that happened this week were that someone gave us a 40qt. Hobart mixer that weighs in at about 800# and stands 5' tall on the floor. 4 of us could barely get it into the truck. It was the heaviest thing I have every lifted in my life. This mixer will be for our pizzas. Our breads are still hand mixed and kneaded.

And secondly, John's folks arrived this week on a moments notice. Drove all the way from Missouri (2150 miles), in three days, to help us finish up the interior work. We are so thankful for their unconditional love and generosity.

We've also started fencing in the wood lot. We'll need a lot of wood to fire this oven and having it right outside, next to the oven will make it very convenient.

The Statesman Journal called this week to follow our story. We will be in touch with them this week.

The Oregonian wrote a little piece on The Bread Board.....

Thank you all for your support in this venture.

Keith and John
The Bread Board
Where Food, Culture and Community Intersect

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Not your typical Calistoga Mud Bath

The oven looks bigger every day. I think the more it is framed in, the larger it appears. Similar to what it says on your vehicle mirrors.

This week, the oven was framed in. It looks like a beast from the street, but we are glad it is in proportion to the humongo building. The framing roughly stands 12' tall and 10' wide. However, the building now appears to look abandoned with the occasional car parked out front. Believe me folks, we are working like crazy on the inside, you just can't see us. We are inside that big box that you see from the street laying fire brick, and working on the interior of the oven.

The most exciting part of the week was the oven received a mud bath! Dale and I drove to Portland at 6am on Monday to pick up the 4 bags of Kastolite. It is a high temperature, silica/alumina based material. Each bag weighed in at 500#. It's purpose is to insulate the oven and fill in any voids that may occur over time. It does not dry as hard as concrete, but more like a putty. This will also allow the oven to "move" as it heats up and cools down. Thanks to the llama trailer and a gas guzzling truck, we made it back in one piece. We had a crew waiting on this end to help us mud the oven. We had to do this when the weather was good because if this product gets wet, it is not usable.

So here we go a mixing it up. Not before Dale reads the bag and says it is going to cause cancer if ingested, so the mixers wore masks. John C. in the llama trailer filling buckets of Kastolite, Dale at the mixer, Louie pushing the wheelbarrow inside the bakery and me on top of the oven about 6' in the air with the scaffolding in front of the oven. We had a giant void to fill in the back of the oven (about 5'tall, 6"wide and 8' long). After I poured the first bucket I had groaning thoughts of how long this was going to take. The Kastolite has to be weighed and so does the water used to mix it. It does not pour, it is like muck, so it dumps out. Louie had to lift 5 gallon buckets of this stuff 5' up to the scaffolding to me and then I would crawl on the dome to the back of the oven to dump the mud until it was 5" thick and then move forward. There were times when I felt like Farrah Fawcett in her naked painting days. I was covered in muck crawling all over the oven with no room for stopping. 4 hours later, we reached the front of the oven with a bit of material left to use at a later date. Thank you so much guys, we could never have done it without you.

Dale is making great progress on facing the oven and building the bridge between the front of the oven and the first arch. I told John last night that Dale doesn't sleep at night and that's the first thing Dale said to me this morning...."I was laying in bed awake last night...." Thank you Dale, I know this is a much bigger project than we both imagined. I believe we are over 1300 fire brick at this point.

The chimney is soon to go up on the outside of the building. We are still deciding on how to face the oven. We will have a 7' bull nose brick shelf across the front. This will help when we rotate the breads half way through baking. We will probably go with a cobblestone finish as we need a material that will handle firing of up to 1200 degrees each night.

All of the doors are now in the bakery. We love the double doors going out to the garden area. The sheet rockers are starting on Saturday and will be there for 1 week to sheet rock, tape, mud and texture.

We also purchased the paint for the exterior of the bakery. It is a beautiful......oh, I'll keep it a surprise. It should be painted in the next dry spell.

The counter top will arrive on Monday. It is in 2 sections. A 16' section and a 10' section. This will act as the bread bar, espresso bar and the platform for any late night crazy dance parties.

The Oregonian article should be out sometime this month and the Oregon Wine Press will also feature us in April. We are so grateful for the interest and support we are receiving from our friends and the folks of Falls City.

Off to make chalkboards for the bakery!

Keith and John
The Bread Board
Where Food, Culture and Community Intersect.