Sunday, October 10, 2021

Baking over a fire in a "pot oven" or "cottage oven"

An interesting one minute film clip from 1950s or 60s Wales, shows a pot oven baking bread hung over a peat (turf) fire with coals. Chunks of burning peat are placed on the flat lid to bake. There is no lip along edge of the lid (so differs from dutch oven top). Excerpts mentioning Ireland and Scotland. Film clip below.

The lid does not have a raised lip around the edge like a dutch oven.
The side of the pot appears slightly flared from the base so the lid may set down in it, leaving a bit of the side to be slightly higher to hold the peat on the lid. Or perhaps a 'ledge' or ring inside to brace the lid. Just guessing, since I am having a hard time seeing details (even the feet). Has anyone studied or used this over the fire?
Pot and cottage ovens described like bake ovens/ dutch ovens over coals -


“Eggs, milk and cakes baked in a pot-oven, that is, a three-legged pot heated by piling red-hot turf under and over it, are usually to be obtained.” [at Inishken, an island off the west coast of Ireland]
The Fortnightly. London: July 1, 1892

"A few [suggestions for economy], such as the Pot Oven made from the Irish Cooking Pot, are particularly interesting in showing what can be done when there is so serious a shortage of fuel that it must be saved in every possible way."
Review of the British booklet Cookery Under Rations, 1918 by M. M. Mitchell in The Journal of Home Economics Dec 1918

"We had, of course, no real oven – only a little pot oven to stand on the floor, with red turf over and under; but my pies were a great success, and savoury, fragrant odours soon filled the little homestead."
Six weeks on the Bog of Allen in Family Herald May 15, 1875


"There is a kind of cottage-oven used in Ireland and other places, in form of a wide stew-pan, made of cast-iron, with a lid of the same thickness, on which embers of turf are put. This is placed over other embers, and an equal slow heat is maintained, which dresses a stew, bakes a pudding or a bit of meat, and is found very useful at other times as a cottage-pot."

"Muffins… These at a pinch may be baked on the Scotch girdle, or in a thick-bottomed frying-pan, or the cottage oven-pot."
Margaret Dods (Christian Isobel Johnstone) The Cook and Housewife’s Manual. Edinburgh: 1829

FILM CLIP of baking bread in a pot oven over the fire with peat coals on top from People's Collection of Wales HERE

Old photos from Ireland show a pot oven/cottage oven:
Clare County Library, link at bottom HERE
Museums of Mayo HERE
Peate, Iorwerth C. "The Pot-Oven in Wales." (Ireland) Man Vol. 43 (Jan. - Feb., 1943), pp. 9-11 Published by: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. JSTOR HERE

DUTCH OVENS - different types blog post HERE


POT PIES - Baking in a pie crust over the fire in a porridge-pot

Over the last 30 years I've baked in brick ovens or cast iron dutch ovens, but I make one recipe which bakes over the fire and the crust is always dry and flaky.

"A peach pot-pie, or cobler, as it is often termed... Rub the bottom and sides of a porridge-pot, or small oven with butter, and then with dry flour. Roll out some pieces of plain or standing paste about half an inch thick, line the sides of the pot or oven with the pieces of paste, letting them nearly touch in the bottom…Put a paste over the top, and bake it with moderate heat, raising the lid occasionally, to see how it is baking. When the crust is brown… "
The Kentucky Housewife by Lettice Bryan, 1839. HERE
The kettle hooting the porridge-pot by James Gillray, 23 July 1782. Satire of William Petty, 1st Marquess of Lansdowne and Charles James Fox (the pot). National Portrait Gallery UK HERE


Oc 20 Wed 2:30 Pots for socks. Commodity itineraries in the North Atlantic during the 17th and 18th Centuries. “reconstructs the journeys of three cooking pots from different places in northern Germany and Denmark [to Iceland] and along the way, attempts to situate these journeys within the social and cultural contexts through which they pass.” Gavin Lucas, Jakob Orri J√≥nsson and Kevin Martin HERE
Article with many images: HERE. Facebook page: The Archaeology of the Danish Trade Monopoly in Iceland. HERE



©2021 Patricia Bixler Reber
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