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Post 9. Bread Oven / Four banal

The bread oven, which dates from 1937, now belongs to the « Société du village ». The term « banal » indicated a common good. Formerly, every village had an oven, necessary for the production of rye bread. A second furnace was located near the House of the foods ( Maison des nourritures ) until the 1950s.

Until 1935, in Ayer, bread was made a maximum of four times per year. The oven remained lit for fifteen days. Families followed one another, day and night, in the bread room, so that the oven would cool as little as possible.

The significance of rye bread in the normal diet of the residents of Valais is documented by writings dating back to 1209. Rye is the only cereal able to adapt to extreme weather conditions ( cold winter, long snow cover, summer heat, dryness ) and to higher altitudes.

Although rye bread keeps better than white bread, after three months, it becomes nearly as hard as stone. It was then cut with an axe and dipped in soup in order to eat it.

Today, the oven is used for baking rye bread once or twice a year. In 2008, five couples created a “brotherhood” ( confrérie ) in order to keep it functionning.

The oven is heated for three days to reach the temperature of 220°C. The dough, prepared with cooked mashed potatoes, mixed with rye flour and corn is left to stand overnight. Afterwards, it is kneaded by adding water and yeast. Several steps lead to the shaping out of ten blocks called “Peacocks” ( paons ). 120 rolls are aligned on boards and put in the oven very rapidly. The cooking lasts 45 minutes.

The fresco depicting the work in the communal oven was painted by Roger Theytaz in 2013.

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Post 9. Bread Oven / Four banal
3961 Ayer


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