Thanksgiving is one of my favourite times of the year–the harvest is in, the jams are made, the leaves are golden, and the focus is good food . On the holiday weekend, I always like to try something new with food, like making cinnamon rolls in a brick oven like we did last year.
On the Sunday morning, my dad and I built a brick oven at the farm with bricks I had rescued from the landfill. We placed it in the field between the farmhouse and the barn and used an piece of scrap metal from some old farm equipment as a roof. Once we got the fire going, the oven heated up quickly–I couldn’t believe how hot it got, even without a proper door. It was so hot that the cinnamon rolls I made cooked in only a few minutes. The sugar caramalized the second we put the tray in the oven and I had to quickly turn it around so the rolls wouldn’t burn. With the residual heat, we roasted potatoes and squash.
We were going to resurrect the brick oven this year, but we didn’t get around to it–there’s been a lot going on here between my kids and my niece. But the chill in the air and the sun on the red maple leaves has reminded me of the brick oven and I was regretting our decision not to get it going again.
As I stoked the oven last year, used a stick to prod the glowing coals, I reflected on the importance of the hearth in the pre-industrial home. I imagined my ancestors, generations of women sweating and scorching their skin in front of the fire. My great-grandmother was a cook in a big English manor and she must have spent days stirring things in front of the fire and feeding the flames.
I liked the brick oven. But truth be told, I’d rather use my lovely electric oven on your average day. And I think my great-grandmother would have liked my oven too.