Baking Bread the Doukhobor Way

I was back in Saskatchewan last week visiting family, which coincidentally happened to coincide with the annual Saskatoon Exhibition. Exhibition week was always important to me growing up, not just for the rides and cotton candy but because my family (and when I was a bit older, me too) would work at the Doukhobor bread baking booth. This is one of the major fundraisers for the Saskatoon Doukhobor community each year, where on average 1000 loaves of bread each day, baked the traditional way in wood-fired clay ovens, are made and sold (and when I say sold, I mean sold. As in sold out. Every night, with big line-ups waiting for the last batches before the fair-grounds close for the night).

As I was saying, I was back during Exhibition this past week and decided to sign-up for a shift of bread baking along with my Mom, Dad, and cousin. There are three options for working in the booth: the kitchen (where they make and pan the dough), the ovens (where they bake the bread), and “up front” (where they sell the bread, either as full loaves or as slices with butter and/or jam). I worked all three when I was younger at one point or another, but I’ve always enjoyed working the ovens. There is something very zen-like about it, and the job is also part PR in nature as you get to chat with curious fair-goers who pop by to watch the firing and baking process in action. Don’t get me wrong – it is hard work. While the 8 hour shift usually flies by, it is always busy (and hot!) and the next day I am inevitably at least a bit sore – regardless of whether I was 15 or 32.

Being 2013, I decided it would only be right to introduce a bit of social media into the process this year. Thus I used Vine to capture the life of a slice of Doukhobor bread from start to finish in three 6-second videos. The fruits of my labour (trust me, creating three 6-second videos over the course of 2 1/2 hours with no chance for a do-over is actually a bit more difficult than one would think) are posted for your viewing enjoyment.

And for one of those “now and then” shots to prove that I actually did bake bread back in the day, here is some photo evidence of me hard at work at the bread booth – first when I actually was 15 (with my Mom, Uncle, Baba (Grandmother) Androsoff and Dyeda (Grandfather) Cheveldayoff) and then from last week.

Bread Baking

Ryan breadbaking 2013

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