The oven is the heart of a bakery – or is it the soul? Regardless, the right oven is key to making consistently great artisan bread. Some of the key oven characteristics include: a masonry deck (gotta get that oven spring!), the ability to produce lots of steam (a moist oven environment allows full loaf development and a great crust), and thermal stability (so you can unload and load the oven without causing wild temperature fluctuations). Bongard, a French company, makes the finest steam tube deck ovens in the world – but they cost $90K, which was a little (ok, a whole lot) more than we had budgeted for an oven. Luckily, we found a used Bongard on the web that had just been pulled out of a bakery in Michigan. Moving one of these 12,000-pound beasts, however, is no small task. It had to be completely disassembled, shipped out to Driggs in a semi, and reassembled (three people working for 10 days, thousands of bolts, four subcontractors, 500 trips to Ace Hardware…) Here are a few photos of the epic oven install:
Predawn ice scraping in preparation for the unloading
Crack forklift operator Jerod Pfeffer unloading oven sections from the semi
Ty bolting together the first two oven sections – thank goodness for impact wrenches!
The complete oven frame with masonry decks, cast iron steam blocks (600 lbs per deck!), and burner tube (lower left) installed
Now where does this piece go?
Anyhow, the oven is now up and running smoothly and cranking out some test batches of great bread. So come visit Jerod and me and Monsieur Bongard on our opening day of April 5, 2010 or any day (Monday-Saturday) thereafter!