The Horno – Part 3

Fires are not built in the horno for bread baking, but inside a sort of metal screen container that allows the cook to extract the hot, coal filled basket and then insert the shaped dough loaf, loaded onto a wide, flat, bakere’s paddle.  Both tools have long hanldes and cleaning is also done with a long stick or pole on which is wrapped a wet cloth for swabbing the horno interior.  The test the horno for the right temperature, crinkle a fist sized pieces of newspaper and place in the horno.  If it bursts into flame, the hono is too hot.  If it smolders, with the ends of the paper tuning black, it is about right.  A dozen chocolate chip cookies in 8 minutes cooking time would be typical.  Hmmmmm, good!

I hope you found this blog to be of interest.  Of course, I’d like to refer you to a link to my Adobe on-line magazine, still free for now.  If you want to go beyond horno into home construction, Adobe builder is your ticket.  We hope you’ll try it and report back to us.

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The Horno – Part 1

One thing you’ll learn about Adobe is that it has a big tie to the kitchen.  It’s a recipe-driven technology and uses a lot of kitchen-sized implements and tools.  It also has that air of secrecy associated with cooks.  Some builders have always guarded their alleged secret recipes.  I say alleged, because after about 1970, most of the ‘recipes’ were being published in how-to books.  But today, a new brand of green builders do jealously guard their sauces, even if the general ingredients are known.  W really see this with builders who are trying out friendly chemical additives, especially those related to green building.  But when it comes to the horno, less is more.  You really don’t need anything that outgasses or could negatively affect the bread of dishes you will be preparing in it.  In fact, to be sure, you are likely to make your own adobe blocks and prepare you own mud mortars when building your horno.

The adobe horno (pronounced “or-no”) was  introduced to New Mexico back in the mid-1500s by the Spanish explorers and colonists.  Evidence of them has been found at Coronado’s first large encampment at Bernallilo, north of Albuquerque.  I will have further details about their history in a coming article in Adobe Builder, but for reason that are diverse, the horno traditions today is largely maintained by the Pueblos or Native American tribes located along the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico (and also at Acoma and Zuñi Pueblos in NM and Hopi Pueblo in AZ).  For example at Isleta Pueblo, just south of Albuquerque, over 30 families are horno bakers.  If you know the places and times, you can pull up to a bread stand, and drive away with a tasty loaf ($3 to $3.50), still warm from the adobe oven.  Some bakers bake every day, and then take their product directly to a roadside stand location and to some store outlets.  If you’re in the area, call Tim or Jenn Lente at Isleta Pueblo (505-450-8756) to discuss their oven bread, pies, sweet breat and Dough-2-go services for special occasions.

Next week, more about the horno…