Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Day 5 (the best day!) Ershmatt & bread making

Today we traveled up to the little mountain village of Erschmatt. We went to Burger und Backhaus (the Burger families bread baking house) The Families would get together and bake bread at the same time so they would use as little wood as possible. The oven takes 2 days to heat. We came here to bake our own traditional rye bread. Traditionally men were the ones to make the bread as you will see in later pictures it was hard work. The lady to the right in this picture broke the tradition and was the first female to bake bread in this haus. (the man on the left gave us the tour and history of the town.) You can't really tell by this picture but when you looked inside this oven it was the depth and width of the room, in other words you could fit a lot of bread in there.

We went into the mixing room which was heated to aid in the raising of the bread. (we were pouring sweat by the time we were done.) If you look down in the right hand corner at what looks like a little gunnysack is actually the sourdough starter from the last batch of bread.Here our Aussie friend is disolving the starter in warm water.Next we start mixing up the dough, The picture is a little hazy on account of the flour being thrown into the trough. Thus far it is pretty easy mixing. We mix it until it is thick enough to stay in place.It is pushed down to one end and covered with more flour to keep it from drying out.x + x is marked into the top, a little prayer is given, God (+) multiply (x) our dough.
While the dough was rising they fed us a very nice lunch, then we went for a walk around town. The houses are built close together on a more rocky ground to allow the more fertile soil to be used for hay, crops and grazing. Can you see the date on this header? 1595, that is the year this barn was built.
The main door opens up to a threshing floor with bins on the side for holding the grains. this barn would have been used by a couple of families. Our guide demonstrated how the threshing was done.

The little door to the right of the main door was this room below, used to store foods and dry the rye bread. The winter winds and dry air would do such a good job that they would have to use a hammer or axe to break the bread. They would then have to put it in soup to soften it, or they would put it in their mouth and suck on it all day. Yum!
Now I bet you are wondering, "How did they keep the critters out?" Well if you look closely you will notice the foundation of the barn is on stones on stilts. That kept the mice from crawling into the barns. Pretty smart! This barn was built into the hillside so it had a little basement where goats were housed.

Here is a view of a different barn with no room underneath, I wonder why? You can see the foundation really well in this picture.
Now back to the bread,
It looked like lava and had grown to fill the trough. you can kind of see the stretched out x .

Now is where the muscles come in handy. We did more mixing.The dough was pretty stiff by the time we were done.
Now it is time to roll out the dough. These are some of the bread presses. The one on the left is pretty old.
You shape the dough into a little cone.
Press it, cut slits to allow to raise.
WaLa! you have a bunch of Rye breads that look like base balls
After the dough was done we had to let it rise once more. So while we were waiting a local music teacher (for grade schoolers) took us to the choir balcony of the local church and taught us some common Swiss songs, Here is one of the songs we sang.

We then took our bread to a little (take less time to heat) oven next door to be baked.
We then had a nice little snack and watched a old (1940-50) movie on how they made the bread. It was done in winter, probably because of the warmth of the fires. Instead of a snack or lunch while the bread was rising they would drink. It started to become quite comical every time there was a break in their work they would drink.
Later in the trip we ate some of the bread we made, it was tough and chewy. When we had their rye bread it was cut very thin and tasted a little better. Were just amateurs.
This day was wonderful we really got immersed in the culture, we learned so much.


Familie May said...

Wow, this was really interesting. What an experience to make bread that way. I love to see the pictures.

A Friend's Perspective said...

That is cool. I am so jealous!