Romanian Hearth Bread

Bread and baked goods - Romania

To make Romanian Hearth Bread (locally Paine pe Vatra), a dough is made one day before baking by including a small piece of uncooked dough (that has been kept in a cool place) from the last batch dough used. The dough is then placed in a wooden trough to rise overnight. A large, wood-burning oven is fired up early in the morning until it reaches the right temperature, the wood ashes are pushed aside, dough is placed inside, and the oven door closed. The bread is left to cook for 2.5 hours. Than the heavily charcoaled breads are taken out and placed under a blanket to cool down. After they have cooled a bit, the bakers beat the bread with a heavy wooden bat to remove the charcoal crust. The end result is beautiful loaves (weighting up to 5 kg each) with a deep golden crust, and no additives or preservatives, which will keep for a minimum of one week if stored in a cool cellar. The dough's long, slow rise and fermented character gives the bread a typical, pleasant flavour that makes it very satisfying to eat.Today, hearth bread is made in the counties of Brasov, Sibiu and Bistrita. These are the areas with a strong Sachsen influence going back to the year 1100, when the first German colonists arrived in the region. A production tradition includes the rotating use of one oven shared amongst several familes, for efficient use of such a large oven and to share responsibility for upkeep. The relatively small volume of hearth bread produced means that it is for personal and family use only, not sold in markets.