The Art Of Baking
Baking is a scientific exercise. As compared to savory cooking, there isn’t much room for experimentation or spontaneity — or, well, art.
Although, Keith Romaine probably wouldn’t agree with that. He’s discovered that bread baking can be an artistic outlet.
He has visions of getting his neighbors to pick up some dough by building a community wood-fired oven in his backyard.
Romaine has been baking bread for five years, which, when compared to his forty years as a professional artist, is hardly any time at all. It seems as though creating edible artwork is his new passion. “It’s nice to see my artwork on people’s walls, but it’s easier to make a living if they eat the art,” he says.
All of Romaine’s dough is made from simple ingredients — organic wheat flour, water, yeast and the bacteria on his hands. “There’s this relationship that we have with bread,” he says.
The first day a wood fired oven is lit, it will stay at 500 degrees for about four hours. It takes up to a week for the heat to fully dissipate, so as the oven cools, it can be used for cooking meat, vegetables, pies and pastries at a lower temperature.
Romaine had heard about community ovens in other cities and wanted to bring one to Bloomington. He scheduled a planning meeting and advertised it on Facebook but didn’t expect a very large turn out. He was surprised when almost a dozen people came to voice their support.
The plan is to build the oven in his backyard, so he hopes he can organize a schedule for visiting bakers.
“Breaking bread is a very old term for communion, like bringing community together,” he says.