Sunday, 29 April 2012

Bread-Baking on Wheels

The smell and taste of fresh bread from an outdoor oven is a pleasure to experience. For those of us who have tasted such bread from the Doukhobor kiosk at the annual week long summer Saskatoon Exhibition in Saskatchewan, it is a pleasure indeed.

Steve Prystupa, former museum curator, sent me an interesting story about a lady in his Manitoba neighborhood: Karen Schlichting’s Oven Unveiled. Steve suggested that some Doukhobor or other groups in Canada might adopt the idea for their own unique brick oven on wheels. Why not a pech on wheels?

The inspiration for the oven came from baking bread for the past five years with her friend Hal Loewen in his outdoor wood-fired oven. Karen Schlichting received generous help from the Manitoba Arts Council to build this 4000-pound portable brick oven, decorated with thousands of tiny hand-cut glass mosaic tiles. The welded steel trailer was tailor-made to carry the concrete, rebar, fire brick, insulation, galvanized tin and glass structure.

Karen fired the oven up for a pizza making blitz for the opening of Manitoba Craft Council’s show 'Make Stop Repeat' opening at the Mennonite Heritage Gallery at 600 Shaftesbury Blvd. on June 23rd, 2011.

In the summer of 2011 Karen held several ‘bread actions’ where the oven appeared in random locations around the City of Winnipeg. After a visit to a Costco Shopping Centre with her magnificent 'Hansel and Grettel' bake oven,
Karen Schlichting took her mobile bake oven to a North Main cafe on November 10th for a season final bake fast. Hot fresh bread is something that needs to be shared so that’s what she has been doing with it. Moreover, Karen's wagon is like a cultural ikon; it gives colour and joy to the world.

Get more information by email from Karen Schlichting :


  1. Charlie N. Chernoff30 April 2012 at 14:35

    Greetings Koozma,

    Thank you for the brick oven (Pech) story.

    I grew up on the farm and in one of our farmyards we had old log buildings that were plastered with brown clay on the outside. In the living quarters building there was a pech that my mother used for baking delicious bread every Thursday. She could fit 12 loaves of bread into the oven in a single bake. They all came out with a mouth watering aroma and we could dig into the warm loaves and eat bread along with Keeslaya Moloko (sour milk) or at least that is what we called our homemade yogurt.

    The neat thing about the old ovens in our community was that the outdoors ovens had a curved top, like the picture shows in your Post. This was to shed rain and snow. But the indoor ones had a flat top so that children could sleep on top of the oven and stay warm the entire night long came wintertime.

    Cheers. Charlie (Koozka) Chernoff. Texas, USA

  2. Khlebopechenie na kolesakh - that's Doxobor'ese for "bread-baking-on-wheels" to join up with meals-on-wheels or deals-on-wheels (a second-hand car dealership in Edmonton).

    Gunter Schaarschmidt
    University of Victoria