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Larger, bi-level ovens have been unearthed which would have been more suitable for baking commercial quantities.They have a top rack to hold the loaves, while the fire below is stoked with "the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven..." (Mt. These baking techniques and others were known to the Romans, whose own commercial bakeries were not established unitl a relatively late date (171-168 B. Once Roman administrative genius was applied to even so commonplace a task as breadmaking, the results would be impressive." ---The Bible Cookbook, Daniel S. 371) About ancient Roman ovens "Many kitchens had an oven, furnus, sometimes called a fornax...For six thousand years and more it is the oven, however crude or complex, which has transformed the sticky wet dough into bread.It is the oven which influences the final character of the loaf; the effieciencycy of an oven, or lack of it, can determine the success or failure of any bread baker's business. It was the Egyptians who first used a manufactured portable oven.This was a beehive- or barrel-shaped container of baked clay, usually divided into two by a central horizontal partition.The lower section formed the fire-box in which were burned pieces of dried wood, foten taken from the Nile, or even dried animal dung.
In Jerusalem there was a bakers' quarter where bread was baked in tiers of stone-built ovens, or furnaces as they were called in the Bible.The Jews also had fixed ovens in some of their houses, frequently in the main rooms.These ovens or hearths took the form of clay-covered hollows in the floor which were heated with burning wood.But there is an alternative and even more likely theory-that on some occasion ale instead of water was used to mix the dough.
The rise would be more spectacular than from a few errant spores and the effect would be easy to explain and equally easy to reproduce." ---Food in History, Tannahill (p.
The oven opening was closed with a large stone, sometimes sealed with clay.